Dyed Alaskan Birch

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Project by Stonekettle posted 08-14-2010 05:58 AM 2715 views 4 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I collected tons of cut Alaskan Birch (a sub species of North American White or Paper Birch) from a new road area near my home in the MatSu Valley. The figure and character of Alaskan Birch depends entirely on where it grows. In the deep swamp where there is little light, the trees grow very little from year to year and the grain is dense like hard maple with tight figure and large amounts of brown heart and burl – this is the wood I usually work in. In the open, in Alaska’s 22 hours of sunlight summers, the wood grows quickly, it’s soft like soft maple or pine, and is usually white in color with straight grain – i.e. boring. Good mostly for firewood. The several tons of birch I got from the road cutting was of the later type – but, hey, free turning stock, not like I’m going to turn it down.

The question then, was how to make it more interesting? Carving and aniline dye was my answer. This bowl was turned green to rough, allowed to dry for a year in the shop until it was around 8%, finished turned and then dyed, carved, sanded, dyed, sanded, and dyed again, building layers of color and character. The idea was to create something that looked as if it had grown that way, like coral. The finish is twenty coats of very thin wipe-on poly gloss. It’s about 14” in diameter.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

26 comments so far

View Jordan's profile


1389 posts in 2211 days

#1 posted 08-14-2010 06:18 AM

How could you possibly make it more interesting that what you have? It’s fabulous as it is!!! The carving, the color, everything!


View Stonekettle's profile


134 posts in 1991 days

#2 posted 08-14-2010 06:44 AM

I meant that the wood wasn’t very interesting – which is why I choose to dye and carve it.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

View cranesgonewild's profile


344 posts in 1995 days

#3 posted 08-14-2010 06:46 AM

Good job. The colour is awesome. You have a lot of patience to wait so long to finish the project.

-- I'm a Fungi --

View Bearpie's profile


2600 posts in 2105 days

#4 posted 08-14-2010 07:05 AM

Wow Jim, ALL of your works so far have been awesome! You have talent!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Tony Strupulis's profile

Tony Strupulis

251 posts in 2210 days

#5 posted 08-14-2010 07:35 AM

Very nice.

-- Tony -

View scrappy's profile


3506 posts in 2517 days

#6 posted 08-14-2010 08:25 AM

Fantastic work. Wonderful caving and dye/finish. Great eye for art.

Keep it up.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View TJ65's profile


1358 posts in 2136 days

#7 posted 08-14-2010 09:40 AM

Cant add to what has already been said -but WOW!
Your work is incredible, I love it, as it is soooooo different yet still some semblance of reality.

-- Theresa,

View cathyb's profile


767 posts in 2331 days

#8 posted 08-14-2010 09:54 AM

This bowl really speaks to my spirit. Nicely done…....

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View Ken90712's profile


16034 posts in 2275 days

#9 posted 08-14-2010 10:22 AM

Holey Moley! This is awesome and very creative! Way to think ouside the box! You hit this one out of the park for sure!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Splinterman's profile


23059 posts in 2448 days

#10 posted 08-14-2010 10:25 AM

Hey Stonekettle,
Really sweet job….well done.

View SPalm's profile


5185 posts in 2969 days

#11 posted 08-14-2010 01:01 PM

That is just so cool. What a wonderfully beautiful vessel.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 3333 days

#12 posted 08-14-2010 02:07 PM

Gorgeous work of art. You have a nice eye for color and design and form. You definately worked some magic here.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

8617 posts in 2006 days

#13 posted 08-14-2010 02:11 PM

It is absolutely beautiful. You really did a great job in making it look ‘natural’. Awesome!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Chefdavid's profile


254 posts in 1942 days

#14 posted 08-14-2010 03:42 PM

WOW!!! Now that is a wonderful piece of art. I hope someday to do work that beautiful!!

-- Become a fan on Facebook...

View Edward83's profile


161 posts in 1983 days

#15 posted 08-14-2010 04:57 PM

What a wonderful piece!

-- Praise God in all things, especially the bad things because they make the best learning experiences.

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