Painting With Wood

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I’m Alexey Steshak and everybody says that I’m a mad Russian interior designer and decorator! I'm a professional but I have had no education other than from high school. I learned everything on my own, through practice.

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The mosaic floor shown above is the first one I’ve made. I usually work with a variety of materials: plaster, ceramics, metal and wood and combine them with each other. I had used the same technique to make a bar counter and was impressed by the result, so I decided to use that technique for a whole floor.

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I take orders for interior design projects with one condition – that I have artistic freedom. For me, an interior is like a canvas that I can ‘paint’ on. I only do ‘wow’ projects and have turned ordinary cafes, bars, restaurants and most recently, a beauty salon, into new worlds that surprise, impress, inspire, and take people out of their everyday routine.

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For The White Garden beauty salon I imagined a large garden, fresh air, a cool breeze and a flock of birds flying overhead. I wanted to create a bright space with lots of wood. It would be an unusual concept which would surprise and inspire visitors, attract attention and stand out from other interiors. So the client agreed to go ahead.

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I wanted to convey a sense of flight, of soaring above the earth. Chaotic background picture recalls fields, forests, as if viewed from above as in a Google map. The ‘tree’ is like a great river that flows through these lands, and along with the birds on the floor, is an extension of the ceramic mosaic on the wall. Within the mosaic there is also a field, flowering trees, and birds that seem to fly off the wall and glide on floors.

The total floor area is 56 square metres. It took me five months to make it, and I worked seven days a week. I started on October 22, 2016 and finished on March 22, 2017. And that’s not counting the time spent preparing materials and allowing for drying. I’ve been combining the materials in my projects for many years, but never before on such a large scale.

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I used wind fallen trees, branches left from pruning fruit orchards, and some wood that was given to me from friends. I handled and prepared all the wood on my own. In all there were 40 bags of small wood pieces. I don’t know the exact number but there are about 20,000 wood blocks in the floor.

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The woods used for the ‘tree’ are maple, birch, pine, larch, American cherry, pear and cherry (fruitwood) and oak. For the background I used apple, pear, apricot, Manchurian walnut, mahogany, Siberian oak, Ukrainian oak, Hungarian beech and ash.

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The base of the floor is 10mm thick plywood laid on a flat concrete subfloor and then the wood blocks were glued onto it. After the wooden part of the floor was complete, I used broken ceramic tiles to add in the birds.

Despite it being a long and very laborious process, this project was a great pleasure for me, and I’ve never regretted that starting it. When it was finished I looked at the floor and felt completely satisfied with what I had done. And, of course, I also felt great joy, because I had thought that the project would never end!

 Alexey Steshak lives in Altai Republic, Russia. Learn more from @asteshak

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