Klaus Knab, a self-taught artist, was born in Germany in 1931 and spent his childhood in Switzland. He emigrated with his family in 1937 and now lives in Oregon. His love for carving began in the early 1970s, when he lived in a small town in Northern California in the middle of a forest of redwoods and had ready access to wood. For many years he worked on found and discarded wood. "I liked the idea of giving the material a new life," he says.
Then he discovered gourds. "I found myself at the Oregopn State Fair, staring at a huge bin of gourds in all sorts of sizes and shapes. They seemed to speak to me. I loved the fact that I could change as the viewer turned the gourds; I found the different pottery-like shapes very apealiong. Perhaps most of all I loved the idea of working with another medium from the natural world."
Klaus starts by creating a drawing which he then transfers to the surface of the wood or gourd using carbon paper. On a wood surface he incises the image using an X-acto knife, then reliueves it. The next step is to give shape to the remaining image using a variety of carving tools. Sometimes he creates an image in "layers" separated by small spacers. Finally, the image is painted with acrylics and protected with polyurethane.
When working on gourds, Klaus considers the thickness of the skin. Because most gourds are too thin and/or brittle to carve and relieve, Klaus uses a burning tool to outline the drawing, then proceeds to paint.
Klaus Knab (the K is pronounced) continues to search for exactly the right design or story to ornament these natural surfaces. His work has been exhibited in galleries from Washington to New York and is in private collections across the United States.
*click image for larger view
Adam & Eve
painted carved wood
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painted carved gourd
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