Griebsch’s woodwork art makes a statement at Immaculate Conception

Heinze Griebsch, a member of Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek, created this work of art made from pieces of wood for his parish.
HANAHAN—When Heinze Griebsch, Ph.D., looks at a plank of wood, he sees way more than a board, he sees a work of art waiting to be released.

He has pulled ducks from the grains, along with dolphins, tigers, elephants and many other animals. But his greatest achievements are his religious pieces.

Griebsch said he uses a process called intarsia, a woodworking technique that cuts and fits together various species of wood to create a mosaic-like three-dimensional picture.

He doesn’t use paint, stain or dyes, just the natural colors of the wood — Aspen for white, Poplar for green, Yellowheart from Brazil, and many more.

His most recent work of art was created for Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek, where he is a parishioner.

It’s called “The Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem” and depicts the Palm Sunday event in minute detail. Some pieces of wood are so small, he had to use tweezers to  put them in place.

Griebsch said he came up with the idea last year when Adorno Father Nicholas Capetola asked for Palm Sunday decorations. He found a painting to use as a guide and started the process in October 2011. It took over 800 separate pieces of wood and almost five months to complete.

At one point, the woodworker was worried it wouldn’t be finished in time.

“I was teasing Father Nick and I said ‘You might have to postpone Palm Sunday!’”  Griebsch said with a chuckle.

Church members are in awe of the scene. Yvonne Weatherby called him a wonder and said it is the most amazing altar decoration she has ever seen.

Griebsch said “The Triumphant Entry of Jesus” has taken over as his favorite work of art. Before that, he considered his greatest achievement to be a rendition of Jesus on the cross.

“I got emotionally involved when I made the crucifix, especially when I  put the nails and so forth down, it really reminds you of what Jesus went through for us,” Griebsch said.

A native of Germany, Griebsch immigrated to the U.S. in 1957 and converted to Catholicism about 18 years ago when he married his wife Annette.

They are both involved with the pro-life movement, but at 86, Griebsch said he can’t march or stand for long hours to demonstrate. He was looking for another way to show his support and live out his principles as a Knight when he came across intarsia.

After some classes in the process and a few test pieces, he decided it was something he could do.

Griebsch, who has a doctorate in economics, said he doesn’t show his work or sell it, he simply makes it for the church.

For now, after months of painstaking work, his woodshop is still redolent with the smell of fresh wood, but quiet, waiting for his next creation.

Maybe, he said, he’ll take on his dream project, and put together “The Last Supper.”