Michal Hanula, one of the best European master artisans dedicated to wood turning, is also a designer, lecturer and one of the main supporters of freestyle design in Slovakia. Using ancient and traditional crafting techniques, Michal is known for his woodwork, but his creations also use other media such as recycled materials, wire, horn and plastics.
His technique of choice is woodturning, creating collections of items for everyday use such as vases, furniture and lamps. He is a professor in the department of design at the School of Applied Arts in Ružomberok, Slovakia, since 2005. He also organized numerous art exhibitions and his works can be found in several private and public collections such as the Slovak National Gallery.
The initial shape of his wooden vessels is obtained by turning curly ash wood on a lathe using traditional techniques. The surface of the vessels is then worked on to create new features and give it a sculptural feel.
There were two influential people in Michal Hanula’s childhood: his grandfather and his uncle. His grandfather imparted a basic knowledge of wood, tools and woodworking. He taught Michal to make wooden toys, jigs, simple joints and musical instruments such as rattles, flutes or percussion instruments.
Michal’s uncle had a small workshop in the house with a lathe. Michal remembers that the first time he turned wood he was about ten years old. Later, during his studies at the school of applied arts and university, he was lucky to have good teachers.
Michal also visited some old craftsmen to explore their process of understanding wood, tools and materials, in order to use this knowledge in his designs and artistic practices. Usually he tries to apply old crafting techniques to contemporary life.
His inspiration comes from good knowledge of this craft, traditional heritage, the things surrounding us, and nature. Michal only uses local materials because he believes in sustainability.
The wood sculpture Bochniky was made with three wooden vessels created from curly ash wood that were hand turned on a lathe. The surface of the wood was then reworked using chisels, creating a sculptural effect.
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