The woodcraft of Wei Hua (a.k.a Moil W.) excites the imagination. With his hand-carved sculptures, he’s given life to a diverse cast of lovable characters that range from dachshunds and insects to mushrooms and fruits. Some are more introverted, while others enjoy congregating and socializing with one another. Despite their different personalities, they all seem to inhabit the same fairytale forest. Looking at these adorable figurines, all too easy to start daydreaming about their backstories. Who are they? Where do they come from? What are they up to?
Wei established Diga, a woodcraft brand focused on handmade toy figurines, in 2019. Though he never studied woodworking, a degree in video-game character design from the Hubei Academy of Arts set him off on the creative path and feeds into his current works. In fact, to him, woodcraft isn’t that unlike illustration—with its inherent earthy tones and varied textures, wood can be assembled into unique designs. He loves the material so much that he often doesn’t even paint over it, preferring to retain its original colors.
This means that selecting the right type of wood is perhaps one of the most important part of his production process. In the early stages of a sculpture design, she looks at different wood samples, searching for the perfect texture and color to work with. “As I understood the material more and more, I got better at choosing the right wood for my designs,” she says. “To depict whites, I’ll use maple wood or ash wood. For grays, I’ll use cherry wood, African coralwood, or something similar. To depict blacks, ebony, black walnut, or jichimu are some of my go-to’s.”
2019 年，Moil_W 创立了 diga：一个纯手工制作的木制玩偶工坊。并非木工专业出身的他毕业于湖北美院，原本从事的是游戏动画设计，但一直以来，他始终希望能有朝一日把自己的插画实体化做出来，几经探索后，木头就成为了他创作的载体。对他来说，木料就像是绘画中颜料一样，不同的纹理和色彩基调，可以组合形成不同层次的物件。和其他大多数木工作品不同，Moil 的作品不上油、不涂漆，尽力去呈现和葆有木头的原色。
Heavier subject matters aren’t off limits to Wei neither, despite the lighthearted art style. In After I’m Gone, he touches on death and our eventual return to nature. An adorable skeletal figure with a crown of flowers represents the loss of our physical bodies, while an earthworm with a Rudolf-like nose hides out within a block of wood, symbolizing the earth. Above, vibrant sunflowers and patches of mushrooms have grown. “After I die, my body will slowly rot into the soil. The soil will grow flowers and plants, the flowers and plants will be eaten by insects, giving way to new life in an endless cycle,” Wei says. “Today’s people close themselves off in coffins and jars after they pass. They can’t return to nature. For these people, they’re not able to reincarnate. It’s sad.”
比如在《我死之后》，他正是将人类肉身源于自然、最终归于自然的故事具象化了出来，不过是以可爱木作的方式——头戴鲜花的 Q 版骷髅置于底层，预示着肉体的逝去；中间有红鼻头的蚯蚓有半截匿于浅棕色=象征土壤的木块之下；在土壤上方，又长出了鲜艳招摇的向日葵与蘑菇，也有其他动物来打洞做窝……“我死之后身体会慢慢腐败变成土壤，土壤会长出花草，花草又会被昆虫啃食，自己身体仿佛又转化为了新的生命，这是物质的轮回。” Moil 说道，“可如今的人们死后被封闭在一个无法与自然接触的密闭环境里，我反而觉得变成了永不超生转世的状态，想想还挺可怜的。”
Despite the occasional foray into these heavier subject matters, it’s hard to not crack a smile when looking at Wei’s figurines. With their round, curvy silhouettes, they’re not only adorable in appearence—they often come with endearing backstories as well. “People love Honey and Sparkle,” he says. “Even though they’re cute, what these two characters represent are equally important. Honey the bee represents hard work, and Sparkle the moth—with its affinity for finding light—represents the pursuit of justice.”
Every character that Wei has created is envisioned as part of the same universe, and with even more new figurines coming up, he plans on exhibiting the full collection together. “The work may have different meaning based on how a person views themselves, the world around them, and what they hope for the world to be.”
单看一枚枚小木头人，都有着柔和的线条、圆鼓鼓的身形。Moil 也为每个木头人都准备了介绍，为它们铺设了丰富的故事背景。“就好像很多人都喜欢作品中的‘蜜儿’和‘闪亮’一样，虽然他们都很可爱，但作品背后的含义同样很重要，小蜜蜂代表着勤劳，飞蛾代表的追逐光明与正义。”Moil 说。
Moil 解释道，这些小木头人其实都是他构建的童话世界设定中的一份子，随着 diga 产出的木作缓慢壮大，他会将最终所有的作品摆在一起，去拼凑出那个他想展现给大家看的内心世界。Moil 说，“这关系到你如何看待自己和这个世界，这个世界需要什么样的人和品质。”