While driftwood art mostly remains a Pacific Northwest art form, local artists say it’s finding an increased appreciation among an international audience.
Li Xin of China is one fan who took his love for the art to the next level. He’ll be the first international entry into the Olympic Driftwood Sculptors Lavender Weekend Show on July 17-19 in Sequim Middle School.
Xin said he came to Seattle in 2014 from Shanghai for a conference before visiting a friend in Port Townsend where he discovered the driftwood club on a gallery walk.
He reached out to club co-founder Tuttie Peetz who later gave Xin a tour of her workshop and introduced him to driftwood art form’s tools and techniques.
“I was fascinated by driftwood sculptures as they are sculpted and weathered by nature first and then finished and re-interpreted through the artist’s imagination,” Xin said.
Soon, Xin joined the club and began working on his first piece “The Dance” with helpful advice from Peetz via e-mail and the club’s website.
“It took me nearly a year to finish my piece and I thought I’d enter it into the club’s show to express my appreciation to those who inspired me with their works of art,” he said.
Xin’s piece will join upwards of 150 other driftwood pieces from the club’s 70-plus members.
Peetz said the show and club’s website receive a lot of interest internationally. A Nova Scotia man took classes after visiting the show and she has received inquiries for online classes and tutorials from others living internationally too, Peetz said.
The future of driftwood
Online classes aren’t an option right now, but the club is beginning to post videos about different techniques and tools online.
Peetz reminds people that they threw out the rule book when forming the club. She said they use power tools, insert rocks and metals and do much more with their pieces.
“I believe in trying to keep doing different things,” she said.
But as the art form grows so does the demand for wood, which artists find in clear-cuts, forests and sometimes on the beach.
“People assume driftwood is from the beach,” Peetz said. “It’s dead wood like from a desert or the forest. When the weather is good, tourists pick it all up on the beach so it can be limited.”
Peetz said her best pieces come from clear cuts, particularly old growth sites, which “we’re lucky to have here.”
Other artists will swap pieces and purchase wood not found in the area, too.
Those looking to get into the art form like Xin can see demonstrations through the weekend at the show, shop the driftwood boutique and buy raffle tickets for a driftwood piece. Proceeds from the boutique and raffle benefit a college scholarship for a high school senior going into an arts major/program.
For more information, contact 683-6860 or email@example.com or visit www.olympicdriftwoodsculptors.org.