Whether it’s a table made of walnut, a redwood wall panel or a monumental sculpture carved from a eucalyptus trunk, the pieces artist Ido Yoshimoto creates in his Inverness studio have tales to tell. “When I look at my woodshed, I feel like it’s full of stories and histories,” he muses.
There are the environmental stories present in the wood itself—the rains, the winds, the fires, even the animals and insects that have left their marks over the centuries. But there are other stories too. “My best projects come from the pieces I know. I might have cut down a neighbor’s tree because it was damaged in a storm. I know the kids who used to swing in it,” says the former arborist. “A big part of the practice is either creating or learning the story, both the history and its evolution.”
Reading the cues in the wood serves as Yoshimoto’s greatest inspiration but within that is what he calls an exploration of form. The blocks he chooses—some of which he might have had for years before using them—have even more secrets to share. “There are signs and qualities in each piece that I try to read as it dries,” he says. For example, the wood might tell him what orientation a cut should take to best reveal the grain. “The wood dictates form and shape. It’s a collaborative thing, and I’m trying to do the best by it.”
And the material sometimes takes a project in an entirely new direction once he’s finished. “When you work with wet wood, it dries differently because you’ve cut it. There’s shrinking and cracking because of the way you’ve responded to the form,” says the artist, who has been particularly enamored of late by the possibilities the omnipresent yet finicky eucalyptus offers. “It’s kind of exciting. I like the cracks. It’s fun to get the wood, carve it and let it age. Then it has the final say.”
As he has grown as an artist, Yoshimoto is looking at different narratives when it comes to his work. He’s thinking about scale, looking to tackle larger work, and shifting his focus from commissions to creating more pieces for himself. “I’m most able to get into the flow when not directed as much by someone else’s ideas,” he shares. “I’m trying to get away from sculptural furniture and be more about functional sculpture.” No matter the size or the shape, though, there will always be stories to tell.