Hibiscus Vase

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Project by Mark Wilson posted 10-25-2015 10:36 AM 1393 views 1 time favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When My family moved into this house, it was 1978. I was a wee lad. The two Hibiscus bushes in the back yark, however, were quite old, as bushes go. They had, evidently been planted when the original occupants (my family were the second) bought the house in 1958. That would make the two Hiniscuseses fifty-six years old. One of them is that old, now. The bigger of the two died some three to four years ago (chinch bugs, I believe). It was visibly lifeless for some time when I decided to extract it. I got out the chainsaw, clippers, and shovel, and went out there. I clipped the upper branches off, and, while I was leaning into the bush to reach the back side, the trunk snapped off at ground level. I shoved it aside and started with the shovel. There was nothing but really healthy-looking soil. The root system had utterly disintegrated (yeah, chinch bugs). I started chopping it all up to fit in the barrel. The trunk, about the lowest three to four feet of it, cought my interest. I had just gotten my Shopsmith, mebees a week earlier. I thought that I might be able to use some of this in the future. (I did take a very small piece of a branch to the lathe to see what it looked like inside – very plain, very featureless [I still have that piece].)

Well, sir, the main part of the trunk lay on the back patio since then, in the midst of most of the rest of my wood pile. I examined the biggest bit, and determined that there might be something in there. That was last Saturday. I cut a length of it that included a crotch of sorts. Parts of it were rotten and punky. Inspired by my new Buddy, Yuval Lahav, whose video I had just seen wherein he made a wing-ed vase from an Olive crotch, I set forth to make a wing-ed vase. I decided to make a video of the process, and, consequently, I didn’t take but a couple of still photos, for shame. I’ve yet to learn how to edit/cut down videos. When I do , I’ll probably post it in a blog. (Note: The photos you’ll see in this description are screen caps. Of questionable quality, at best.)
The startling thing about this Hibiscus (do I call it wood?) is that, in the time it lay out back, it spalted and became very interesting, indeed.

I didn’t end up with a wing-ed vase because the branches that would have made up the wings were just too far gone. I cut them off, leaving as much as I could of the space between the branches. Oh. And that little knot in one of those spaces was very important to me, too.

Some of the rotteness survived the turning and finishing. It was a bear to finish. I BLO’d it, and it got splotchy. So I sanded it back down. It was at this time that I decided to re-shape the bottom end. I decided that I would shape the bottom in a conical fashion, rather like a bomb, then turn the base with a hole that it would sit in. I finished the base in a less-refined way, leaving the bark bare. The vase itself, I finished (prior to parting off), by spraying it several times with Shellac, for sealing, and sanding it smooth. I then applied five coats of WOP with a camel hair brush, rubbing out between coats.

So there it is. A Hibiscus Vase. Complete with spalting. Enjoy.

All these photos show it standing straight up on the base. But, it can be played with by tilting it on the base, within reason. It’ll list nearly fifteen degrees in most any direction before it wants to fall over.

-- Mark

26 comments so far

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile (online now)

woodshaver Tony C

6223 posts in 3551 days

#1 posted 10-25-2015 11:39 AM

You certainty have an eye for turning something ugly into a master piece Mark! Very nice! Hibiscus wood, I would have never thought to even useing this kind of wood.

My eye see a somewhat of a face in this piece. A plus for me!
Thanks for sharing!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View majuvla's profile


13353 posts in 3066 days

#2 posted 10-25-2015 12:04 PM

I wonder how you managed to finsh such pieces without total crack. Nice piece again.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21720 posts in 3304 days

#3 posted 10-25-2015 12:05 PM

Beautiful vase, Mark. Lots of character!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16280 posts in 4417 days

#4 posted 10-25-2015 01:19 PM

I have a special affection for this hibiscus since it’s the same age as me. I wonder if you could work your magic and improve my looks that much?

On second thought, I’d rather not be chucked onto a lathe.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View doubleDD's profile


7878 posts in 2241 days

#5 posted 10-25-2015 01:22 PM

Mark, a piece of art with beauty to spare. Good to know no fingers were lost in the process.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Yuval Eitan's profile

Yuval Eitan

115 posts in 1526 days

#6 posted 10-25-2015 02:38 PM

I love the base-vase interaction. Somewhat inspired by anatomy, sort of like a femoral head (hip) joint (sorry, my world of associations…LOL).
I love the way you took a piece of total “throw it to the fire and never think of it again”, and insisted not giving up on the wonderful piece of art, which was laying and waiting for you to excavate it.
I love the diagonal rim, it gives this piece an apparent feel of self pride.
I think I ultimately just love this work of art.

Thank you!

-- Knowlege is just like love - it never dilutes, only grows! Sharing it with others just strengthens it

View leafherder's profile


1594 posts in 2150 days

#7 posted 10-25-2015 02:45 PM

Great job, and in case you still have doubts about the wood speaking to you – take another look at photos 1,4,and 5. This piece definitely has a mouth and even an eye that is watching you closely. :)
And congratulations on discovering a new source of material for your work – of course this is wood (by any standard definition), and a lovely piece of wood that was enhanced by your skill. Sometimes the unexpected materials are the most fun to work with and provide the best results. Thanks for sharing.

-- Leafherder

View Yuval Eitan's profile

Yuval Eitan

115 posts in 1526 days

#8 posted 10-25-2015 03:54 PM

Congrats for making the Daily Top 3 !!!
And so rightfully so!

-- Knowlege is just like love - it never dilutes, only grows! Sharing it with others just strengthens it

View John's profile


1310 posts in 1468 days

#9 posted 10-25-2015 04:54 PM

I think that face in photo 5 might be in the new Star Trek movie, way to stir up the crowd Mark. Is yellow the natural colour of this wood?

-- John, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada.

View DocSavage45's profile


8721 posts in 3041 days

#10 posted 10-25-2015 05:46 PM


Your skills and perspective grow and grow.

Shouldn’t this be a blog? LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View lew's profile


12425 posts in 3954 days

#11 posted 10-25-2015 06:27 PM

Nice, Mark!

Congrats on the DT3, too.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View peteg's profile


4423 posts in 3021 days

#12 posted 10-25-2015 08:25 PM

I like the way you’ve worked with the wood to show it up, nicely done, congrats on the DT3

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2286 posts in 1261 days

#13 posted 10-25-2015 09:17 PM

Mark, a piece of art with beauty to spare. Good to know no fingers were lost in the process.

- doubleDD

I still have my one finger and nine spares.

I think that face in photo 5 might be in the new Star Trek movie, way to stir up the crowd Mark. Is yellow the natural colour of this wood?

- John

Sorta, I guess. The BLO enriched(?) it. Made it deeper. I did not, and still do not see faces in this Thing. Thank God.

Yuval, that means the world to me. Stay tuned into the odd “wood” channel. My neighbor wants me to extract a dying Geranium. I don’t know if there’s anything useful about it, under or above ground. But, I think you know, I gotta know.

Such a wonderful response from all of you. Thank you so much. As to the DT3: Totally unexpected. And unexplainable, in my view. As to the wonderment of even completing this Thing: It took a lot out of me. Many of my pieces do that. I get very emotionally involved in my work. Sometimes, that brings me forward a step or two as an Artiste. Sometimes, it just sucks the life out of me.
But, you, my Beloved Buddies, always give me hope. Thank you all so much, again.

-- Mark

View Grumpy's profile


24638 posts in 4049 days

#14 posted 10-25-2015 10:21 PM

Good eye candy Mark.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2595 posts in 3882 days

#15 posted 10-25-2015 11:15 PM

Damn brilliant Mark, All the above remarks cover what I would say. Well done and a DT3 to boot, congrats.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

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