Wood sculpting is a natural part of everyday life for Mauri Rönni. He selects the material for his tiny sculptures amongst the firewood used for sauna from the woodshed and uses the corner of the kitchen table as his atelier. Rönni explains his working is very simple: you just take a piece of wood and start carving it. Any species of tree is feasible, but alder is a certain choice for Rönni. Then when you remove enough excess wood from the block with a Mora knife and a chisel, he states, something will come out of it.
For a traditional wood sculptor, it is a question of honour and an expression of skill to make a statue from a single tree. Rönni explains, that gluing parts together resembles hobby crafting more than actual sculpting. There is no room for error when sculpting a single piece of timber. What has once been whittled, can not be replaced.
Normally, it takes a week to finish one sculpture, but more complex bodies of work require a lot more time. For Rönni, the trickiest part is finishing, when the thinly carved parts can easily break. He does, however, accept repairing sculptures with glue once they are done, as long as glue has not played a part in the actual making of the piece. Rönni does not want to paint or coat the clean surfaces of his sculptures with tar, so the finishing touches are made with sandpaper. With this recipe, over a hundred small expressive wood figures and bustling tableus have sprung to life. Two robustly sized cow sculptures, that have been implemented by axe and chisel, are in addition to his works.
Rönni keeps busy with themes of dancers, musicians and biblical subjects along with portrayals of autobiographical memories and country living. There is an overwhelming amount of intricate detailing, from violin strings to cobblers nails, in the often humoristic small sculptures. Rönni’s pieces have a feel for the action, which adds to the taste of life in them. The characters are amidst working, dancing or playing, not stopping to be pictured. The sculpturor has captivated the movement and the moment on to the wood.
Text & photos: Minna Haveri. Translation: Ina Aaltojärvi.