Wood Mosaics from Recycled Tree Roots by Nguyen Van Vien

Vietnamese talented artist Nguyen Van Vien created beautiful painting-like wooden mosaics made from various types of recycled wood.

Van Vien comes from a Vietnamese village called Khuc Toai, known for its traditional carpentry. Born in 1957, the artist left his home village at the age of 19 to study at the Indochina College of Fine Arts, in Hanoi. But it was a very difficult period for the Vietnamese, so after just two years of school, he had to come back to his village to support his family. He had to take up woodwork and carpentry, which barely earned him enough to put food on the table.

One day, as he was looking for material near the river, he picked up floating tree roots from the river, and decided to recycle it. After taking off the bark he noticed the nuances of the timber under the bark and started cutting them into small pieces and arranging them by color groups and shades. That’s when he was struck by the idea of using them into mosaics, especially since using discarded roots would have cut his material costs to a minimum.

Nguyen Van Vien and his brother along with some hired locals started gathering floating tree roots. But it wasn’t easy. It required great skill, originality and practice. The artist spent day and night cutting the pieces by hand and sewing them into beautiful wooden mosaics.

Most of the colors in his mosaics are from the natural roots, although he used a little paint here and there.

Van Vien has won various awards and the title of Artisan with Golden Hands for his unique work with recycled wood.

"I collect timber that other carpenters think is waste or rubbish. To me, it is valuable.”


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