Alain Mailland Wood sculptor - Chamborigaud, France

You are an active member of the French Association of Artistic Woodturning, discuss how this membership has assisted in your career and development?

I created the association in 1995 with a group of friends woodturners, all professional. We met during a class and decided to meet again. It created a big movement of sharing and partnership between us. Then we organized classes every year with famous artists, and set up international symposiums and events.

Vent d'Automne

Vent dAutomne

Can you discuss your technique of green wood hollowing?

Green wood hollowing is the best way to turn big forms both usual and artistic. You can cut a tree and turn it right away. The only point is to deal with the twist that occurs after the woodturning process, but this is what I look for when I make sculptural work. The secret is to turn fine, even very fine, like paper.

What lead you to move from functional domestic items to vegetable and marine forms – sculpture?

I used to produce usual items like salad bowls, bowls, vases, etc.. But my background was also artistic, and I came up with the idea of making wooden flowers, I had to invent new tools for that, and then I used these tools to make vegetable and marine shapes to be carved. I also use multi centers and off center techniques to produce coral nests and special organic forms. I made a residency in USA, opening me the market to american collectors, and came progressively from usual items to sculptural work.

Sola Rosa

Sola Rosa

Expand on a piece that you have worked from a root burl?

We have very nice root burls in the South of France, like heather, juniper, madrone, boxwood. I turn these roots fresh so they move after the turning and tha carving. Wonderful colours, fine grains, they are amazing.

Corail Bleu

Corail Bleu

Discuss the inspiration nature gives you?

I find all the forms and structures in nature, from microscopic world to the cosmos, the sea, the trees, the insects, the textures, etc…Everything on earth is a wonder, just have to look at it, and it will inspire you !

Explain in detail your piece, “The Birth of the Viking Ship”

The Birth of the Viking Ships 2

The Birth of the Viking Ship, Size 44 cm ; h : 23 cm

I started this piece after visiting the Viking Ships Museum of Oslo in Norway, where you can see four incredible ships from the 10 th century. I was much that impressed by the amazing shapes of these boats, along with the carving on the prew, representing a snake from one side to the other. I realized again that human are inspired by nature and natural shapes, so I wanted to make an organic piece like many ships growing together. The techniques for that pieces were : woodturning from a cherry graft, then cutting and carving green. Then carving fine, sanding, texturing the inside of the boats, colouring, then texturing the “heads” of the prews with the burner and colouring. I spent two months on that piece

Discuss how your wood turning has taken you around the world?

As I said, through American collectors, the woodturning center of Philadelphia which is named now “Center for Art in Wood”, and through the American association of woodturners, and all the organizations of woodturners in GB, Australia, NZ, Ireland, Germany and Spain.




Can you discuss “Children of Gaia”?

Enfants de Gaïa

Children of Gaia

Children of Gaïa is the biggest piece off-centered that I ever made, with seven vases attached together, carved, and steam bent.

In “Rainbowls” can you expand on the outside details / patterns on each bowl?


I just wanted to search new textures and decorate each bowl differently with very organic patterns like worms galleries, coral shapes, etc…

Alain Mailland 

Contact details.

Alain Mailland

Alain Mailland, Chamborigaud, France

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, September, 2015