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Artist transforms driftwood into whimsical sculptures that look like spirits of nature

From the moment they sprout from the ground, trees have always been beneficial to people. Even in death, trees still have some role in the environment. A standing dead tree gives shelter to some birds and bats.

A fallen tree, on the other hand, provides minerals to the soil that will ensure the growth of future trees.

But not all trees that have lived their purpose give back to their grown environment. Others have traveled to other places, blessing them with the bounty that their previous environment enjoyed. These trees have become driftwood.

Driftwood refers to the remains of trees that ended up being carried by bodies of water. It refers to pieces of wood that are either floating in rivers, lakes or oceans, or are washed ashore.

Some might possibly think that driftwood is nothing but a nuisance. But in fact, as in its previous form, driftwood has a number of benefits to offer.

Driftwood provides shelter to tiny organisms. Humans enjoy driftwood for practical uses. It may be used to make traditional boats, such as kayak. It may also be utilized as timber for building beach houses. Driftwood may also be used as firewood.

Aside from these practical uses, who would have thought that driftwood could be turned into a beautiful piece of art? As a matter of fact, one artist took notice of the beauty of driftwood and made art from it.

The naturally intricate shapes and patterns of driftwood caught the eye of an artist named Debra Bernier.

Debra Bernier is a sculptor from Victoria, Canada. She resides with her family in Vancouver Island, where she enjoys an endless supply of driftwood.

She specializes in carving figures out of objects found in nature, such as shells and driftwood. But among these found objects, she said her favorite medium to use is driftwood. The artist sees driftwood as “a work of art already.”

Speaking about her choice of driftwood, Debra Bernier said:  “When I work with driftwood, I never start with a blank canvas. Each piece of driftwood is already a sculpture, created by the canvas of the waves and wind.”

True enough, as the swirls and whorls on the texture of the driftwood resulted from the waves crashing against it, from the rocks scratching the once floating tree.

The embellishment is a product of its continuous travel to different places. “The wood tells a story and I try to think of its journey as I hold it in my hand,” said Debra Bernier, who considers herself a “co-creator and storyteller.”

“I extend or shorten the curves and contours that already exist into familiar shapes of animals or peoples’ faces.” Debra Bernier refers to her art as “Shaping Spirit Sculptures.” She hopes that her art will serve as an inspiration to others, to seek out the “big stories hidden in little things.”

Some of her works may be seen at Debra Bernier and Shaping Spirit. Here are some of her beautiful driftwood artworks:

Debra Bernier draws her inspiration from nature.

Her keen eyes enable her to see the beauty in nature, and further enhance it with her craft.

Debra Bernier’s art evokes themes of fertility and motherhood.

Debra Bernier does not solely use driftwood for carving. She incorporates other materials found in nature, such as shells and stones.

Her art reflects the connection between man and nature.

The finished pieces are a reflection of not only my life, my family, and children, but of an eternal, sacred connection we all share with nature,” says Debra Bernier.

The work of Debra Bernier is indeed proof that there is beauty in unexpected places (or things, in her case), that there is a story yet to be unraveled.

All photos were taken from Debra Bernier, Etsy, and Shaping Spirit

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