|Project by Stonekettle||posted 08-14-2010 08:03 PM||2249 views||3 times favorited||22 comments|
More spalted Alaskan birch burl. The blank for this piece was cut from the largest birch burl I’ve ever found, it was almost five feet across. It came from a tree that was damaged in the Miller’s Reach/Big Lake fire here in Alaska’s MatSu Valley about fifteen years ago. The tree lived for years after the fire and developed the burl in an area of the trunk that was burned in the fire. I found the tree maybe a year or so after it died, much of it was rotten by then and useless, but pieces of the lower trunk were still solid, including most of that huge burl. I got a number of large bowl banks from the burl and a bunch of smaller ones. The fire, which burned several hundred thousand acres, was so intense that winds in the middle of the fire reached hurricane force – as a result portions of the wood that had faced into the wind were embedded with sand and grit, which made for interesting texture, but dulled the heck out of my turning tools very, very quickly.
Because the wood was soft I mounted the blank on a turning plate with 3” screws and turned it at low speed leaving the base thick. Portions of the wood were almost pulpy, but when they dried they were the most beautiful. After turning I let the bowl dry for about 6 months, and then carved and sculpted it to resemble flowing water. The salmon were cut from hard pieces of birch burl stock (I never throw wood away, even when trimming blanks. Pieces of burl and heartwood are sliced into slabs on the resaw and put away in the stock cabinet for exactly this kind of thing). The fish are cut from stock on the big scrollsaw, and then hand carved and wood-burned. They’re finished separately from the bowl, so that I don’t get drips and runs. The whole thing is finished in about twenty very thin coats of wipe-on poly so that it looks like wet flowing water.
-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station