Schuyff originally started carving ornate shapes on to pencils, but after a trip to New Guinea transplanted his passion onto larger pieces of wood. “A few years ago, I took a very long walk into the highlands of New Guinea. At night, while camped out during the trek, I noted that there was not a lot to do, ” Schyuff told Inhabitat. “It was too dark to read and I shared very little language with the locals, so I sat by the fire and whittled branches.”
“I carved them into the same helix and corkscrew shapes as the bats. I suppose those shapes were right because I could carve them by feel. I sort of held the knife stable and turned the sticks over and over. They almost carved themselves.” “In the morning, before setting off again I would climb a tree, bore a hole and insert my carving so if you are ever in the highlands of West Papua you might look up and see one!”
Upon returning to New York, Schuyff noted that he wasn’t done with carving, so looked for a new outlet. “Branches were hard to come by on 23rd street, so I started carving pencils, brushes and wooden spoons. A few months later, I left for a summer on the west coast of Canada. I wondered what I would make there since I was not very keen on painting.” “In Vancouver, I had access to beautiful yellow cedar logs so I continued carving. I was always on the lookout for wood that I could carve, pencils, logs, broomsticks and so on. Then one day, I carved a bat and it was perfect.”
“I started carving a bunch of them. The carved bats as a group are called “Dutch Baseball”. This is because one day I was crossing the street with five or six finished bats over my shoulder and a guy in a car waiting for the light to change asked me “Hey what kind of bats are those?” “Without skipping a beat, I said: “Dutch baseball.” I don’t know where that came from, it just dropped out of my mouth and has stuck.” To date, Schuyff has carved about twenty bats, fifteen big logs, eight smaller ones and around three hundred pencils. To carve a pencil takes about half an hour, but a full bat takes a whole day. Generally, the sculptures end up with half of the wood becoming fragrant cedar shavings, but you can’t deny their beauty or visual impact.
+ Peter Schuyff