A RIBBLE Valley sculptor is busy on a new project that has been 200-million years in the making.

Martyn Bednarczuk, who has been working with wood for almost 30 years, is sculpting four new pieces of art out of a petrified piece of timber.

Martyn, 58, who works out of Huntley’s Country Stores in Samlesbury, was given the material by a friend who owns a petrified forest near the Black Sea.

Wood becomes petrified as a result of a tree having completely transitioned to stone, with all the organic materials being replaced with minerals.

The process occurs underground when wood becomes buried under sediment and is initially preserved because of a lack of oxygen.

Martyn, who has also created work for Towneley Park and lives in Barrow, has decided to turn one of the pieces into a figure looking downwards and is hoping to reflect the image of the dawn of man.

The member of the Master Carvers’ Association says that he has not decided what to do with the other three pieces.

A cabinet maker’s son, he is aiming to take his works to America when finished.

Martyn said: “My friend who owns a forest near the Black Sea phoned me up offering to give me these pieces of wood.

“It was great that my friend, Adrian Brock, has faith in my work and he said he was looking forward to what I would produce.

“I’m really enjoying the project so far and I have never worked with this type of material before. It’s quite difficult to sculpt because it’s so hard and it’s more like working with marble or stone than wood. They are very expensive and I intend to take them to America once I’m done.

“There is a lot more work to be done and I don’t think that they will all be ready for some time yet.

“This project has received a lot of attention and people have been calling me from all over to find out more about it.

“It’s quite rare that someone over here is working with such old wood.”