Art&Craft - Wood processing techniques

Nicu Ivănescu makes a playground out of bark, roots and abandoned wood at Valea Zânelor

Recovering wood every chance you get, not wasting it, trying to use as much of a tree as possible is responsible and a way to protect natural resources and the planet. We have always promoted such examples and here we are again. It's about the new playground at Lut Castle in the Valley of the Fairies. The place is no stranger to you, even if you haven't been there yet. You probably remember the bar-boxbuilt there by Nicu Ivănescu, which I wrote about some time ago. The playground is also made by Nicu. His habit of using wood bypassed by others for his projects and his atypical constructions caught our attention again.

playground valley of fairies

Abandoned beech, old and far too scrubby

Two years ago I was walking along the Sad River and saw the log from which we made almost the entire base of the playground. It was abandoned by a company that was exploiting fag because it was very scabby and thick. After a while, the owner of Lut Castle told me he would like a playground and I immediately thought of the scrubby log. I enquired which company was operating it and bought it."

This is how Nicu begins the story of the new playground. He's been sending me photos since he started work. I liked the idea and asked him to let me know when he was finished. "I'm done tomorrow!" - was the message a few days ago, accompanied by a few photos. I really wanted to see how it turned out, and I was as happy as a child when I saw the little houses, the slide, the galleries and whatever else he had imagined for the children to play in the Valley of the Fairies.

The beech tree was the basis of the whole work. The large size - from 170 cm in diameter in the thickest area to 130 cm in the 'thinner' part - and the hollow inside were very inviting in creating a challenging place for small visitors. Before being used, the beech was jet washed and then 'hardened' with sodium silicate, a natural solution well suited to keep decay at bay and stabilise wood weakened by old age, damp and mould.

playground valley of fairies

playground valley of fairies

A month's work for a fairytale place

He worked for about a month to get to the stage where the layout can be used now. The playground consists of a zipline, a small house suspended on a piece of log, climbing net and climbing board, a swinging bridge, a small house from an overturned log, two burrow-like galleries and a slide. A swing and a seesaw follow.

The structure of the perched house was made of oak and closed with pine planks. The roof, both hers and that of the overturned log, was covered with shingles made of molid. For protection, but also for staining and highlighting the wood design, the shingle was burned with a gas burner and then brushed. Everything needs to be protected with oil, but hasn't done it yet. Waiting for it to first take on the natural grey shade of the weathered and weathered wood, then it will be protected on the outside as well.

Almost everything was worked with his favourite tool, chainsaw. After watching the film at the end you will get the feeling that for him, too, this whole work was a game. He has a special joy when he works on something he likes. In fact, he only works what he likes. He doesn't accept work if he doesn't like it or if he isn't allowed to do the project himself.

playground valley of fairies

playground valley of fairies

playground valley of fairies

"I use what others throw away"

Bark, roots, abandoned wood, this is the raw material Nicu uses for the most part. The "healthy" wood of walnut (his favourite), oak, pine is used just to put them together and give strength to the work.

"I pretty much use what others throw away, what others reject. The maple rots by the rivers or roadsides, nobody wants it for fire either. When I find a wood with a more particular shape, I take it, no matter the species. About 70% of my work is made from dead, already fallen trees or those cut down by owners for various reasons. Most of the time the ideas come to me from wood I already have. I don't execute, I create."

playground valley of fairies

playground valley of fairies


He has the same theory for the furniture he makes. It's an interesting combination of folk and rock, furniture that is at first glance rustic but much more elaborate, with combinations of simple metal and string elements. He obviously loves wood and wants to showcase its beauty. Old drilled wood is transformed into a mirror frame, table top or bedside table. What others throw away, he saves by giving wood a new life. This is what happened to the old beech tree. He rescued it, cleaned it up and turned it into a child's friend.

If you are curious to see his work, you can find it on the page Xylino on Facebook or on your personal account. Xylino is the name of the company and how they characterize their work. In Greek, xylino means wooden.

About the author

Mihaela Radu

Mihaela Radu is a chemical engineer but has a great passion for wood. She has been working in the field for more than 20 years, wood finishing being what defined her during this period. She gained experience working in a research institute, in her own company, as well as in a multinational. She wants to continuously share her experience with those who have the same passion - and more.

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