Ironwood carving is a unique form of art from the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico. It was handcrafted from desert Ironwood, a very dense and heavy wood of intriguing origin.
To be suitable for carving, the wood must be exposed to the extremes of the climatic conditions that exist only in the desert. Years of exposure in this hot, dry environment cause the natural resins to collect, condense and cure, thus transforming the wood into very dense and heavy Ironwood. The government has prohibited the harvesting of living Ironwood trees, causing the artisans to search extensively for naturally fallen trees. No green wood is suitable or used for carving.
Ironwood carving is an unusually demanding art form originated by the Seri Indians, a small tribe that have dwelled in the great Sonoran Desert for thousands of years. Once the wood has been gathered, each piece is hand crafted using very simple tools. It requires long hours of carving, hand sanding and polishing, plus an artistic "eye" to effectively capture the beautiful burl and distinctive grain inherent to Ironwood. The result of this handwork is that no two pieces are identical. There is a limited supply of true Ironwood and a diminishing number of carvers. It is possible that each carving may appreciate in value.