Albert Einstein

albert einstein is to me one of the most creative scientists, who did his profound work in physics in a “playful” way , and as this resonates to me, i got the idea to carve a portrait of him. i was first thinking of doing a high relief carving, but then i got inspired by marks tryptich and his bishops crest to do the portrait as bas relief.

the wood is jelutong, rather hard compared with linden that i usually carve, but it carves nicely and holds detail very well. the big circle is 25cm=10” in diameter so the portrait will be about 3/4 lifesize,,, the wood being 18mm=3/4” thick, and i have set down the background to a maximal depth of 12mm=1/2”. that is lot of wood to play with, compared what mark did on his above mentioned reliefs.


i had the idea to incorporate on a very subtle way a hint to einsteins work. if you are familar with it, i am sure you noticed it already, i have cut the background not flat as it is usually done in bas reliefs, but curved : einstein found in his general relativity theory that space does not have a fixed geometry, but bends and curves under influence of mass moving through space. the larger the mass of the body the more space curves. if objects come close to these area where space curves, their way of travel is changed according to the curvature in space. this is so with light too….

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. markyundt
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 17:10:02

    Wonderful job Doris. Reliefs have a way of challenging you at so many different levels. You never think you have enough wood.You have to make compromises to give the illusion of depth and perspective. If you are used to carving in 3D nothing on a relief makes sense and can build a feeling of frustration by not having the ability to actually carve a nose for example as you know it to be. And a 3/4 view as you have chosen is especially challenging. No depth where you know there to be depth. But a relief was a good choice for the chosen subject because the levels needed for a complete picture as you have done makes space, and surfaces, all “relative” to one another.


    • dorisfiebig
      Jul 02, 2009 @ 20:51:34

      thank you, mark.
      this carving was realy fun and i loved the challenge. yes, one may not think “now i carve a nose” then immediately one feels helpless, how should i carve a nose in just 2mm depth ? but looking on the fotos, and just see where hills and valleys, steep walls and not so steep walls, are, and copy that into the wood, amazingly the nose appears… nice connection relief and relative, i was not thinking about that, but it fits well…


  2. Dino Travisan
    Jun 09, 2010 @ 17:51:37

    Nice job, Doris. This Einstein bas relief is in what it’s said “3/4 position”. I mean, it is neither in front nor in profile. Maybe there is another term in English to say “3/4 position”. In my view, iIn profile” means a face wher you see either the right or the left side.
    Havng said that, do you have a tutorial of face relief carved “in profile”? I need it because I would like to relief-carve a soldier with kepi as head-gear. As you know kepi has an sun visor, which should protrude (stick out) too much bot in the “3/4 position and in frontal face.


  3. dorisfiebig
    Jun 09, 2010 @ 20:40:43

    hi dino, yes it is 3/4 view…. i have no tutorial, but i once carved a sideview portrait, and made fotos of many steps, so maybe it is helpful for you… not a soldier in my case, but a woman, but see if you can take ideas from it…
    homage to mucha


    • Dino Travisan
      Jun 11, 2010 @ 14:59:30

      Where can I find th photos of the following steps? Thank you, Dino


      • dorisfiebig
        Jun 11, 2010 @ 18:06:58

        hi dino, i am not sure i understand your question… the link i gave above, is a thread composed of several pages, which you can access by the little “page number buttons” at the bottom of this page. these are all steps i have fotographed for this carving, maybe not enough for call it step by step ?


        • Dino Travisan
          Jun 11, 2010 @ 19:06:00

          Doris, sorry for the misunderstanding. The steps on Einstein carving are clear and well done. I thought there were also a step by step photo sequence about the woman portrait in profile you mentioned in your previous mail. Sind Sie deutsch?


          • dorisfiebig
            Jun 11, 2010 @ 19:35:55

            yes, i am german,,, oh, i see,,, the einstein relief is the only one i did with fotographing and documenting clear steps, ,,, i did not carve too many profile portraits so far, but i will keep yur need in mind, and make fotos next time i carve one. thank you for your interest.


  4. dylangillespie14
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 17:20:06

    You have some absolutly stunning work. This is a beautiful relief. I have never done any sort of carving, more of a 2d artist(i have some work on my blog) but it must be incredibly difficult to not only take a 2D reference and make it 3D but to realize in advance what wood you have to remove is mind boggling to me. I guess it like Michelangelo said “Every block of stone(Wood) has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Great work


    • dorisfiebig
      Sep 29, 2012 @ 19:58:38

      thank you, dylan 🙂 … yes, before i carved i also thought the most difficult is to know in advance which wood i may not cut away… but, when you carve the focus shifts, as all things need to be in the correct relation, so when you cut at one point, it changes the relation to all other points, and one needs to observe these changes constantly to bring the relation step by step closer to what you want to achieve… its like with drawing sketches, you usually do not draw the “final lines” right in the beginning, but build up slowy until you reach what you desire to depict… carving is very similar…


      • dylangillespie14
        Sep 30, 2012 @ 01:20:22

        That was very nicely put. It’s also similar in drawing(as far as relating section to section) in that if you darken or an area your lights are going to appear lighter so you’ll have to counter that… unless its desired.


        • dorisfiebig
          Sep 30, 2012 @ 09:33:57

          yes, both carving and drawing, creates an illusion, we play with light, and try to achieve in our medium the lights and darks that let us see our object. your point is spot on, its form and lights and shadow. thanks for commenting on my other blog too 🙂


  5. Ken
    Jul 14, 2014 @ 04:18:48

    Beautiful Idea ,a perfect way to visualize his theory.


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