Ralf Kessel from Tornowo is always on the wrong track – and he has a lot of fun doing it

torn Ralf Kessel is on the wrong track as often as possible. And it feels good. The 61-year-old loves wood. And most of all, she loves everything that is decorative for the house and garden, that can be made of it – sculptures, murals, decorative items. Imagination knows no bounds. contrary! When Ralf Kessel from Tornowo is walking in the woods and looking for suitable material for his work, his head creaks. Where others see only a dead tree trunk, he already means another object that can be worked out.

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Ralf Kessel’s estate in Tornów resembles a large exhibition area.

At the beginning of his professional life, it was impossible to predict that he would one day become a wood artist. Born in Berlin, Ralf Kessel learned the profession of an agricultural engineer after school. In this job, the 61-year-old says, “he was in Germany quite a long time.” He returned to Berlin at the age of 25 or 26 and has since worked in the supply, coordination and logistics department for typical GDR department stores. This continued until a turning point. Then the big discount chains conquered East Germany and the work was over.

It all started with a pocket knife

After returning to Berlin, Ralf Kessel discovered a sculpture for himself. He always liked to turn anyway. How did his love for wood come about? Ralf Kessel thinks for a moment. “As is,” he says. As a boy, you grab a pocket knife and start carving on a piece of wood. “Of course I cut my hand on the occasion,” he says. But he didn’t give up. He was just fascinated by what could be done with this material. Ralf Kessel brought some manual skills with him. Maybe he was born with it a bit, because his parents come from areas surrounded by numerous forests – from Burgwall or Zabelsdorf.

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Ralf Kessel uses wood to conjure up both decorative and practical elements, such as this wine bottle rack.

Ralf Kessel uses wood to conjure up both decorative and practical elements, such as this wine bottle rack.

The 61-year-old gradually gained many skills in the course of his work. And he invested money. For example, in a stately lathe that can also be used to process larger pieces of wood. On the other hand, he did not attend courses and training like other representatives of this artistic guild. Ralf Kessel is thoroughly self-taught. “I didn’t even have time for that,” he says. The family had two children, and he himself began construction after reunification. His love of wood did not escape the attention of the local people. Whenever this material had to be processed and certain skills were required, Ralf Kessel was brought in. Soon he started an independent business and became a specialist in the field of wood protection and construction.

Gradually it turned a hobby into a profession

At the same time, he continued to devote himself to his passion for creating artistic things from wood. And since many people liked what Ralf Kessel produced, the center of gravity of his work changed. Soon, work on the building declined and his art work increased. A development that Ralf Kessel would never have dreamed of, but he wasn’t angry at at all.

In 200, Ralf Kessel came to Tornów and bought a piece of land there, on which he then built a workshop and a house - using a lot of wood.

In 200, Ralf Kessel came to Tornów and bought a piece of land there, on which he then built a workshop and a house – using a lot of wood.

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In 2000, Ralf Kessel came to Tornów, bought a piece of land in the village and built a workshop and a house there. From then on, the wood he loved was on his doorstep. At the same time, Berlin is not far away, and thus a large part of its clientele – people who like to place decorative pieces of wood in their home or garden. Interested parties can often find Ralf Kessel on the Internet (www.form-vision.de). Then they go to him in Tornów and are amazed.

Sculptures, murals and other wooden items everywhere

The house and property resemble a large trade exhibition. Everywhere in the four walls and in the garden, visitors encounter sculptures, murals, and other wooden objects. Sometimes they serve as an extravagant wine rack, sometimes there is just a flower pot on top. And often they just “just” look ornate and ornamental, and are what are commonly referred to as eye-catchers. Just a pure art object. The pieces can be bought. From time to time, an interested party appears with their own ideas and we discuss together if and how the idea can be implemented. Ralf Kessel does not produce owls, mushrooms or wild boar. It leaves it to other people. As he says himself, he is attracted to more inventive objects.

Sanding wood is tedious.

Sanding wood is tedious. “You don’t really see that you are making progress,” he says.

Ralf Kessel frequently traverses the forests around five kilometers between Tornow and Ringsleben. Always looking for material for further work. “I only use dead wood,” he says. And of course, everything is always agreed with the responsible forester. Oak and robinia would be very suitable for outdoor use. Because they are decorative and durable. Everything goes inside: ash, alder, oak, poplar, beech – it doesn’t matter. “Sometimes I go to the woods with ideas in my head,” says the 61-year-old. But sometimes ideas for work also arise spontaneously – at the sight of wood.

‘Empty’ is usually processed first in the forest

Ralf Kessel usually works for a long time on site in the forest. There he crosses the “empty space” for his later work of art. He then transports the piece to his property, for which he sometimes needs a wheel loader. At home, we continue the “good job”. Sometimes the wood has to be oiled or sanded for hours, which he doesn’t like so much, because in his opinion “you don’t really see any progress in creating a work of art”. Therefore, it often puts off sanding in the winter months when outdoor work is not possible.

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Always processing several tree trunks simultaneously

There is no doubt – his strong and strong build matches Ralf Kessel in his work in carpentry. And big hands are perfect for holding a chainsaw, which he uses to cut large logs to fit the lathe. “I just tend to make bigger things out of wood,” reveals Ralf Kessel. And which also reveals: “I always work on several tree trunks at the same time.” There is nothing more fun for this man than constantly being on the wrong track.

By Bert Wittke

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