Gemeines Holz (DE)
and a fascination with Nature
Gemeines Holz is a wood handicraft project based in Stuttgart, Germany, passionate about the diversity of European forests!
Its creator Paulina Kondraskov is a trained biologist at heart as well: Paulina vibrates with the details that she recognizes in Nature around her and wants to transmit this passion with her pieces!
Paulina left the four walls of the museum where she used to work and began carving mostly utilitarian pieces with the wood she collects in her tracks.
It all started with the frustration Paulina felt when she noticed that most of the wooden objects she saw for sale were made of olive wood.
As a botanist who loves biodiversity and knows that Central Europe has much more to offer, she decided to change the paradigm!
On the tracks she walks as a guide in the European forests she began collecting wood that had fallen and started carving new pieces!
The first time Paulina carved was in 2015, when she was in a camp by Lake Baikal in Russia with a group of 35 people (!).
Every night they would light a fire and sit around to tell stories and talk. One of those nights she picked up her pocketknife and began to sculpt subconsciously: she soon discovered that sculpturing allowed her to escape from the noise where she was at the same time that she was with the group. This trip came to an end but the bug had already been woken up!
Arriving in Germany, she bought her first hook knife to make spoons and began to innovate. A year later she sold her first necklace pendant and it was in 2018 that she decided to dedicate herself exclusively to wood!
The entire process was through self-learning, watching many videos on Youtube and hours of trial-error.
Initially Paulina set up her workshop in her room and lived in the midst of her woods!
As time went by, the amount of tools and material needed was increasing, and Paulina started working in a shared workshop.
Wood is my passion because it is the ideal material! It ages in time but retains its essential characteristics, it is very strong.
When I go to a museum and see centenary pieces of wood still ready to be used and carrying a part of Natural History, I am even more certain that I love what I do!
I get goosebumps when I think that in 100 years my pieces will still be in the same state, already with a strong patine and will tell the Natural History of now!
Paulina shared with us some of the moments that make her love what she does:
the excitement in discovering how easy to sculpt (or not!) a new type of wood is;
the odor of freshly cut wood;
the joy of cutting wood with a very sharp knife;
and of course the deep satisfaction in looking at a product made with your own hands!
The Gemeines Holz project is based on sustainability values (Paulina never cuts trees specifically for her pieces, wood is always collected or sometimes received from friends and neighbors who know the project!), Originality (each piece is different - Paulina is inspired by the shape and pattern of each piece of wood to decide the final design) and biodiversity (all woods must be respected and valued!).
Each of her pieces comes with an information card that indicates what type of wood was used, where it was found and what its characteristics!
The name Gemeines Holz is a pun as it literally means mean wood but also ordinary wood in German. Common wood because Paulina wants to show that any ordinary wood has beauty in its peculiarities and mean because some species are mean for the sculptor: when she begins to carve and discovers hidden lateral branches, a very high density or wood with much resin it is a complicated day for the sculptor!
We are in love with this project and we want to support the diversity and sustainability that Paulina conveys!