Have you ever seen something and instantly thought, “I have to have that!” That was the case with me and these wood carvings of Aradia and Cernunnos. I saw a notice from the artist, Mihaylo Melnichuk (Михайло Мельничук), on a Facebook group announcing he’d started an Etsy store, which would allow him to be able to accept PayPal. He is based out of the Ukraine, and I suppose it is harder to use that service there. The announcement was accompanied by a picture of his Aradia carving and the next thing you know…I was smitten.
I cannot describe how much I love these statues. The craftsman ship is incredibly good, and the artistry even better. Clearly Melnichuk does some research before applying his chisel and Dremel tools to the wood. He has a whole series of Norse gods, which are gorgeous. I’m particularly fond of his Hel, and rather envy this person’s whole collection. Just looking at the various figures alone has helped me get a sense of that Pantheon. All these pieces as well as the Aradia and Cernunnos I purchased are relief sculptures, but Melnichuk is also highly skilled at independent sculptures, too. Just take a look below at a figure he carved of a cossack.
That’s some good work. I have no idea how he was able to keep all the proportions so realistic while working with wood. It’s not really a medium that lends itself to such precision. Or perhaps just the artists I know are not as skilled.
My absolute favorite thing about these relief statues, though, is their portability. I really dislike transporting my other statues because I am so worried about breaking them. Most of them are resin, which is fairly durable. However, having broken my fair share of precious figurines in my childhood…I know transporting them without lots of Styrofoam and big boxes is not a smart idea. One small knock could chip the resin or break off a limb or antler. Wood has a bit more resiliency, but the relief nature of the sculpture means there’s no small parts that can break off. If I want to take these to a festival or a coven members house, I just place these back to back (the backs are completely smooth), then roll them up in a soft cloth. They remain totally secure and safe. And they certainly are light! I barely notice them in a bag. For now, they’re enjoying hanging out on my Altar, and I’m enjoying having some new representations to cycle into my rotation.
Since I ordered these figures, Melnichuk’s store has received quite a bit of traffic and I do not believe he currently has much in stock, but he is accepting orders and also does custom work. And I believe he may be expanding his pantheon offerings. In addition to his sizable Norse collection and the “Celtic” collection of Aradia and Cernunnos, he recently added the Greek Hecate. If you want something different, he’s open to custom work. And if you want something he’s already created but sold, he has a knack for faithfully re-creating designed piece. His prices also seem fairly reasonable. These hand carved relief statues are only about $50 a piece, and they’re a pretty good size. Mine are about 8.5 inches tall. He can scale the size up or down, too. Last I checked, he estimated a 1-2 week time to complete carving, and it took about a week for my carvings to arrive from the Ukraine. I also had the opportunity to ask him a few questions through Etsy, and was very pleased with the promptness and thoroughness of his replies, which were in English. (Most excellent, as my Ukrainian is non-existent.)
So if anyone was in the market for deity representations that were a bit different from the resin pieces that are readily available, I highly recommend this artisan!