“The Life and Works of Isidro Doce”

Written by Fretzy Jane Bares, B.S. in Applied Mathematics III.

Sculpture, as one of the earliest form of representation, has been with us since ages ago. Through the unending development that is happening to the society, the theme and use of sculpture also changes. For the ancient people, sculpture is the medium to communicate to their gods. Others with massive power use portrait sculpture of themselves to achieve immortality.

Through the tight devotion of many people in their religion, the creation of making a Santos/Saint using woodcarving flourished until it became a form of livelihood of other individuals.

One of them is Mr. Isidro Doce. He is a native of Dumangas, Iloilo. Blessed with crafty hands, he tries to reach people with his saint sculptures. He’s been running this kind of business since he was 21 years old.

Now, let us take a little ride on the story of how Mr. Doce got what he has now.

He was only a young boy when Mr. Doce started having a penchant for carvings. His neighbor was making saints and every carved saint really left him astonished. That was the time that he thought to himself that one day he would also make sculptures. With his neighbor as his inspiration, he started carving, starting with a tad of wood.  Slowly, his skills in carving began to grow unconsciously.

            At the age of 21, he created his first saint sculpture and that was the Sacred Heart. Since the day he started making sculptures of saints, he always dreamed images of angels and saints which further motivated him to create more.

            He settled with his family but did not rest from carving. As their children grow, the needs of the family grow as well. But they were saved by his business, financially. Through his saint sculptures, he was able to send their children to a fine school and provide what they need.

            He did not have any formal education about sculpting. It was all the product of his patience, determination, passion and honed skill that at first was acquired from another individual. Since his business is religious, he never fails to thank the Lord God for everything by simply not working on Sundays and on important occasions involving church activities.

Though he is the kind of person that needs not to be bothered because of his work, he was still able to allot his precious time in giving ideas on how to do a saint sculpture or other related sculptures.

5 Simple Steps in Doing a Saint Sculpture

  1. Think of a design of what you are going to carve.

Specifically, since you are going to create a saint sculpture, find a picture of your desired figure. This will be your two-dimensional model. Design is the core of the sculpture since it will dictate the desired outcome of your work.

  1. Choose your medium for carving.

Almost all things that are capable of being shaped in three-dimension can be used as a medium for sculpting. In the case of saint sculpture, a wood, preferably, a Santol wood is the best choice. Santol wood is a type of wood that is easy to carve thus providing more avenues for your intricate designs.

  1. Trace your design on the wood.

You can do this by simply copying the design to the wood using a marker. The trace will be your guide throughout your carving process.

  1. Carving time!

Start by cutting unnecessary portions of the wood that will not be included in your work. You may begin with the edges then on the front part until you slowly arrive to your desired figure.

These are the tools that he uses in carving. As seen, there are various types of wood chisels, each has a unique property that when used together with a hammer, provide diversity in terms of carving. The hammer is used to pound the chisel and it dictates how deep the carving will be.

  1. Polish your sculpture.

Most of you are probably thinking what sculptors use in polishing their woodcarvings since the texture is so smooth. Well, Mr. Doce did not give a detailed explanation on how to do it but he stressed that in finishing his works, he uses ‘papel-de-liha’ or the sandpaper for a glass-like image and ‘shellac’ for a clear, silky finish. Shellac is also used as a protection for the carvings. This will let your sculptures preserved for years. Paint is applied after using the sandpaper and before putting the shellac on the sculpture for additional attraction.

In creating saint sculptures, Mr. Doce stressed that you have to be very patient. You have to make sure that what and where you carve is right since once touched, you can never undo what has been done. He also stated that it takes him about 7 to 15 days to finish a single saint sculpture depending on the size and the design of the saint.

After giving us the process on how saint sculpture is done, he showed off some of his works. These are the following:

If the height of the saint is approximately 2 to 3 feet, the corresponding price of it ranges from Php3000 to Php4000.

If you want to have a life-size saint sculpture, you will need an estimated amount of Php16000 and up and it will take him 10 to 15 working days to finish it.

Aside from making saints, he also accepts restoration of damaged and broken saints. Most of his received repairs were also his works from years ago.

According to Mr. Doce, what makes his figures different from other saint makers is that he has faith in his works and he knows within himself that he is always guided by God whenever he does his carvings.

He also gave some advice to the people out there who aspire to be a sculptor, too. He said that it is the passion of an individual together with the skill that makes a good sculpture. Yes, you also need the skill but remember that skill is a derived characteristic which means that you can acquire a skill on something if you just put your heart onto it and that is what you call ‘passion’. A person who has a passion for something is hard to find nowadays. If you do not possess that urgency in your heart, you will never do anything. If you know you have the talent, use it, but in a good way.

Name:                                                ISIDRO DOCE

Adress:                                   P. D. Monfort North, Dumangas, Iloilo

Cellphone Number:                        09991829053


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