|photo by Marianne Gonterman|
After the carving, the figure is then left to dry for up to ten months, depending on its overall size and thickness. Semi tropical wood such as copal is susceptible to insect infestations, and for this reason drying pieces are often soaked in gasoline and sometimes baked to ensure that all insect eggs have been destroyed. As the figure dries, it is susceptible to cracking. Cracks are filled with small pieces of copal wood and a sawdust resin mixture before painting. Oaxaca woodcarvings were all originally painted with aniline paints made with natural ingredients such as bark of the copal tree, baking soda, lime juice, pomegranate seeds, zinc, indigo, huitlacoche and cochineal. These colorings were also used for dying clothing, ceremonial paints and other uses. Now most carvers have now switched to acrylics which resist fading and withstand repeated cleanings better. However, some still use aniline paints which have a more rustic look. Painting is generally done in two layers, with a solid undercoat and a multicolored designed superimposed.
Artemio Raymundo Ramirez Ibanez, was born in San Antonio Arrazola near Oaxaca. Arrazola is known for traditional alebrijes. At the age of 14 he began artistic wood carving making small figures. By 2008 when he was 26 he had developed his own style, carving dragons from of his imagination. His show of dragons is called, Temo, el señor de los dragones or I fear the lord of the dragons. This display was at the Palace of the Governors in December of 2009.
I have more pictures of the work of Artemio Raymundo Ramirez Ibanez on my web album.