IRONWOOD WILDLIFE SCULPTURES
THOMAS SUBY, BISBEE, AZ
The medium from which an original sculpture is snaped has varying degrees of importance in its emergence to final form.
For me, this rich desert wood has always had a place of efqual. I was first introduced to desertIronwood ( Olneya tesota )
through the stylized forms of the Seri Indians of the Sonoran coast of Gulf of California in the mid 1970s. It is a deep-
rooted Acacia that produces lovely purple flowers in the spring. It grows along washes thfoughout the lower elevation of
the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, California and Northern Mexico. These sculptures are the result of many years of
collaborative effort between artisan friends and muself in Sonora. We begin with wood that is long dead and often
hundreds of years old. We develop a figure from photographs, models, film and/or derect observation. Next we chalk a
form on a log, doing our best to use this valuable wood in an efficient and effective way, chipping it down to a workable
shape with a heavy hatchet. Because of its density and homogeneity, it works a lot like stone, resulting in many similar
techniques, including the use of rotary tools with carbide bits, chisels, files and sandpaper ranging from 60 to 600 grit.
My friend, Ramon has an especially good feeling for movement and character. Ultimately, I bring them to my shop for
the final detailing and finishing. My appreciation in the miracle of diversity of form in animals has deepened with each
year. I hope each piece does justice to the wildlife and to this beautiful work.