One of the marks of a great sculptor is the ability to imbue the inanimate with life. James Doran-Webb has mastered this with his breathtaking animal sculptures.
Made from reclaimed driftwood and steel, Doran-Webb uses a variety of tools to shape the wood, including chainsaws, band saws, axes, chisels, angle grinders, and standard carpentry tools. He’s been collecting driftwood for almost 30 years and has amassed around 40 tons to draw from. His favorite medium is molave, a hardwood local to his adopted home in the Philippines.
“Finding that elusive piece can take hours,” says Doran-Webb. “Think of a 10,000-piece jigsaw with several parts missing and you can visualize the frustration sometimes felt.”
Structural support comes from a stainless steel armature, and though some of the poses may look precarious, the armatures are engineered to carry double the load of the driftwood and to withstand gale-force winds.
Driftwood is attached to the frame with steel bolts and screws in subsequent layers that can be up to 8″ in depth. Even with his team of six artists, sculptures can take anywhere from 1,500 to 15,000 hours to complete.
“When I work with wood I slow down and enter a comfortable world of creativity where it’s just me, my tools, and the piece I am working with,” Doran-Webb says. “I guess it is similar to meditation in that it