Faux Bois

Faux Bois

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.

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Carlos Cortes, of San Antonia Texas, repairs a damaged faux bois bird bath. Mr. Cortes also creates and carries on the work of Dionicio Rodriguez (1881-1955), considered a genius of faux bois. You can see in the background, a piece already formed with wire and awaiting the concrete.   source

 


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.


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Amazing work by Marcella Marie.       source   her gallery here


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As though it came directly from a tree!     source


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A closeup of the leg of a chair.      source


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faux bois by Donald R.Tucker- what skills they have to have to achieve this level.   source


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Even the nails are cement…..they use stains for various effects.     source

 


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This looks like a beautiful, organic piece of aged barn or driftwood.         source

 


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.

 

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By Donald R. Tucker  source


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Faux bois table -By Donald R. Tucker    source


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simple looking, but really beautifully complex.…..source


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I would love to have this piece. in my home.         source


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These have to be quite heavy as well.     source


 Below are photos of faux bois in homes and gardens.

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Really lovely example of faux bois for inside the home.. I adore the bowls of moss as well.


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Works of art like these stand up to the elements, so plants can be used with abandon to create a vignette.    source


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As above, ferns, flowers, plants. Water away!    source


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So appropriate for a small sitting area. I might even use it in the corner of a screened porch. A pretty rustic woven basket of flowers  on the table ready to greet me for my morning coffee.     source


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A piece like this is so elegant and European looking.       source


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What a gorgeous courtyard. I could see this in the courtyard of the Italian Manor home I featured yesterday.   source


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Set on a gravel courtyard……perfecto!!!!!         source



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Both the steps and the fence rails blow me away!     source


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I can’t think of a more perfect container for moss than faux bois.           source


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I can’t even imagine the time, skill and strength it had to take to fit this fence dimension wise, so perfectly, no matter the artistry to carve the dog into the gate. Now this I would use in a heartbeat..  source


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Unique and so beautiful. Add some flowering roses, or flowering vines, and best of all…..no painting!!! source


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Longer view of the stairs and fence. Amazing.  source


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You would swear that this is old wood taking on the patina of moss.     source


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I would never conceive of this, no less attempt to build it.     source


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This is another good example of a more formal garden setting using faux bois.      source


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Lovely rest spot and focal point along a gravel path.     source


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Since tress don’t usually grow square, that is the only giveaway that this bark did not come from a real tree.  source


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I love the contrast of the soft curves of the wicker seating against the rustic quality of the faux bois columns and  entablature.     source


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Gorgeous curving stairs up to a faux bois platform-tree house, and a table and chairs in the courtyard..         source


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Stone columns supporting these gates, softened by base plantings of flowers.     source


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These tables and chairs will be around a lot longer than you and I.       source


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This might be metal faux bois, but cute and useful nonetheless.   source


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I can’t believe that this isn’t wood.  Her work demands a tactile response.  By Marcella Marie   source


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another view of the piece above.    source


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Most of my readers know of my love for dogs, so I just had to include this vintage photo of a dog perched on a faux bois garden bench. What are the odds? Whimsy & serendipity at it’s best.

 



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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. This is fascinating! Beautiful art work!

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