This is one of the most visited ancient Native American ruins in the Americas. A restored kiva can be entered by the public. If you are fortunate enough to have all to yourself for even a few minutes, you can almost feel the presence of the Ancient Ones and hear the voices of those who lived here almost 800 years ago. They cared for the land & each other using their resources wisely for centuries.
I first visited Spruce Tree House at Mesa Verde National Park beginning in 1994. I studied the dwelling in the Spring and Fall to get the visual information necessary to create an accurate sculpture that reflected the angle of the sun at different times of the year.Over the course of three years, I photographed it every 50 feet from left to right. I then began combining photographs and sketches, adjusting perspectives to create a unique "cliff dweller's view" from across the canyon. The sketches were utilized to create a pattern which were then transferred to the surface of my "blank wood canvas".
The "canvas" was a massive piece of rare Honduran mahogany that involved laminating three 2" x 48" x 20" planks together and planing the edges. I chose Mahogany because the tight grain allowed me to get fine detail that may not have been possible with a softer wood, and the hardness of the wood allowed me to shave realistic rock effects into the surface.
I began sculpting with just a mallet and chisel removing as little as 1/16" to 1/8" at a time from the surface carefully planning each cut so that the buildings and walls emerged in correct order. One miscalculation such as taking the wood back too far in the wrong place would have ruined the entire sculpture. I therefore studied each level change thoroughly before taking mallet to wood.
After three physical months of careful meticulous carving I was finished! There is no place in the world quite like Mesa Verde and it was only fitting that I create a unique tribute to a special culture that thrived centuries before the Renaissance began in Europe!
Across the Soda Canyon Overlook at Mesa Verde National Park, west of Durango Colorado is the only view possible of entire cliff dwelling. It's the only cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde that faces east. The other cliff dwellings face southwest to take advantage of the solar heating possible from the low midwinter sun. Balcony House was built by ancient Native Americans known as the Anasazi around 1200 A.D.
In gathering the necessary reference photos and sketches necessary to create this special mahogany sculpture my wife and I took the tour, up a long ladder (not for the faint of heart) and exiting on hands and knees to get Mesa top's.
The carving Is only 2 inches deep but with proper lighting (track lights, floor lamps, sunny rooms, etc.) the illusion of depth is dramatically enhanced and shows over a thousand individual bricks carved carefully over a period of weeks into a large plank of Honduran mahogany. I chose this rare wood because the fine-grained allowed fine detail and the hardness allowed me to shave the surface into a rock -like texture. I carved the wood back 1/6" to 1/8" at a time, studying my next cut carefully as to not ruin the sculpture. It was truly a "relief" when it was done!
10.25" x 35" x 2" Original Hand-carved Mahogany Sculpture