Work begins with a hunk of native hardwood burl, harvested from local sources. Burls are caused by a virus which causes bulging growths on the host tree—-more analogous to a wart than a cancer. Sanding reveals the extravagant swirling patterns of burlwood.
Left: Wild cherry burls in storage.
right: I use an electric chainsaw to rough out the burl, on which I’ve sketched the outlines of the bowl’s basic form. ;I create the bowl’s hollow with my lathe (built by my father.) Although meant for metal-work, its compound tool-holder makes it safer and less stressful to my hands than a wood-turning lathe with hand-held cutters.
TOP: I use many wood-carving technologies: bandsaw and chainsaw, heavy- and light-duty air-powered grinders, as well as hand-tools. The model—a bowl draped with fabric—and the rough-carved bowl begins to take form.
CENTER Three images show carving in progress.
BOTTOM Left: Commercial wood bleach helps make wood look like natural linen.
Center: Pyrography (wood burning) creates contrast in both texture and color, without the use of stains or dyes. Detail of ‘embroidered” edging.
Right: the finished bowl.
On other types of pieces, polished surfaces are accomplished with a variety of abrasive techniques, from coarse to very fine. A base coat of Watco penetrating oil, and several coats of Minwax Antique Oil finish most pieces.