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Care & Feeding Instructions for Carvings

If you’ve purchased a Sanford Williams piece…thank you! It’s my privilege to carve a piece for you to enjoy for many years to come. Now that you have your carving, I always get asked how it should be kept and what types of cleaning products can be used.

First of all, the best place for wood-carved art to be placed is almost always indoors, or away from the elements. Wood was once alive within a tree and required moisture to run through in order to help it grow and stay alive for hundreds of years. Now that the wood is cut and dead, it’s inevitable that cracks will form over time as it dries, as there is no longer the need for nourishment.

If carvings such as totem poles are displayed outside, you will have to accept the fact that it will not last forever. It could very well last as long as your lifetime if you take care of it, but don’t be disappointed when you see the cracks form. It’s just the wood’s way of asking to go back to Mother Earth.

I usually finish carvings with vegetable oil, wax, or floor polish. Most often, I prefer the simple and natural finish of vegetable oil. It slows the cracking process by keeping the wood a bit soft without incorporating water which can cause rot and decay. If you care for your carving with my suggestion, you could have a piece that can still look good, lasting for more than 150 years.

Indoor Carvings

Once you have your carving displayed, keep it clean every few weeks or so. Dust and cobwebs are unsightly and can create a murky look over time. Use a cloth that can be forgiving around sharp points and won’t snag. Don’t use water. Water will absorb in to the wood and you run the risk of the wood drying out and cracking, and possibly rotting. Don’t use furniture polish or any other chemicals. These may react with the finish or paint and can form a milky residue or peel the paint. Don’t use DIY solutions. If you mix together items from your kitchen cabinets, one may react negatively with some woods, the paints or the materials. Keeping your carving clean is so simple: use a dry cloth. That’s all. Each year if you choose to freshen up the wood, heat up some vegetable oil until it’s a touch warmer than lukewarm to thin the oil, and then brush it on with a clean paintbrush or pastry brush. This process will increase the shelf life of your carving.

Outdoor Carvings

Large pieces displayed outside such as totem poles or sculptures require less upkeep.Please do not use a pressure washer or nozzle setting on a hose for a strong jet to clean as you might lose some of the paint in the process. If the carving has become dirty from rain and snow, only clean it once or twice a year with a shower setting on the nozzle. Carvings outside are going to be exposed to many different temperatures and environmental elements. This means that it will inevitably fade and the wood will change colour over time. Breakage is the number one problem for pieces displayed outdoors due to the drying process. The best care for the outdoor carvings is to keep it away from vandalism and to prevent children from climbing or playing on the piece.

If you have any questions specific to your carving or certain products used, use the Contact Form to notify me. Please include a description of the climate where you live and whether or not your piece is displayed indoors our outdoors.

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