There is a way to add the rustic, yet often elegant look of wood to your garden and home in the form of faux bois. This art form dates to the mid 1800’s, when it was invented by Joseph Monier. Faux bois (from the French for false wood) refers to the artistic imitation of wood or wood grains in various media. The craft has roots in the Renaissance, and was popular from it’s inception until just after WWII, when it died out as the artists who created the work did. Few pieces remain save garden pieces and they are prized by collectors.
In the July/August issue of Traditional Home there was an article about it, and about an accomplished San Antonio artist, Michael Fogg, who along with a few others, including Carlos Cortes, are reviving this art form. I also admire the work of Donald R.Tucker and Marcella Marie. Faux Bois is cement built up around a frame of rebar and lathe or wire , and is often referred to as Ferrocement. It’s this form that will serve as the base structure to for the artists piece. Cement is then poured into and around the lathe or wire. Once the base cement cures and hardens, two or three more layers are added before the detail work is chiseled, sawed, and or carved, and perhaps stained to look like real wood. Each artist experiments with additives to achieve the ideal working cement that allows enough time to do the detail work, and that will also harden structurally.
The French do not call it Faux Bois, they call it Rocailleur, but for this post I shall refer to it as Faux Bois as that is what most American’s are familiar with.
In the modern form, we often see faux bois created from cast stone or cast iron, and even resin. Faux bois can be a wonderful foil when used with smooth or polished pieces, especially in the home. In the garden, it’s rustic surface is softened by the plant and flower structure of the garden. Let’s look at how this wonderful and interesting art form can be used as an addition to the garden and home, often adding form and function, but to also add whimsy.
I am offering a few close up photos to show you how talented these artists are in reproducing the likeness to wood. The photos invite you to want to touch the faux wood as if in disbelief that they are faux.
The above examples are amazing aren’t they? Let’s look at a few pieces of faux bois, and then I will share photos of pieces in the home and garden.
Below are photos of faux bois in homes and gardens.
Faux bois is trending and hopefully the art form will be permanently embraced this tie around. I like it’s permanence and relative ease of maintenance (little or none). There is something very special about it’s visual weight as well. Here is a short (4 minute) condensed video of how one artist works on a piece.
Around here, the temperatures are back in the 90’s, above normal, as it has been for a while, after a brief respite during the holiday. We fortunately missed the hurricane inland, but our neighbors further north – New Yorkers and Bostonian’s, seemed to make the best of it, celebrating despite the rain. The sheet rockers worked here July 4th and again over the weekend. Because of the equipment and clanging, they yell at each other to be heard above the noise. Then they plugged in the radio or MP3 player to an even louder level. Mind you, this is a large home, yet they were readily heard, big time. Guess they forgot that they were in my home! Most of what they played wasn’t my kind of music. Anyway, during a break in the hard rock, the country song “Don’t let your son grow up to be a cowboy” came one and all three of them began singing the song, loudly. I couldn’t help but laugh even though the music had been blasting for hours. It was pretty bad singing, because my two dogs started howling. I laughed very, very hard, what else can you do? I have been involved with construction and design for long enough that it shouldn’t bother me, the mess, etc., but it is stressful when you are trying to accomplish some work yourself. Anyway, today it wasn’t dry enough for them to finish up, so hopefully tomorrow afternoon they will finish and be gone and I can take over. Oy vey! I am getting too old for this.
Thanks for stopping by, and especially for all the sweet comments and emails welcoming me back to the blog. You are the best! Laters, charisse