In one of my conversations with Beth Moen at Greenwood Fest, we talked about the use of aspen as a traditional wood for bowl carving. Beth said that she liked Aspen because, although it is a relatively soft hardwood, the surface hardens nicely as it dries and holds up well. I was able to salvage some aspen from a hillside that had been cleared nearby, and this is my first finished piece from it.
Ale hens are a traditional way of serving beer at special occasions. You can see some of the incredible variety at the digital museum here.
As you can see, my design features fluted facets that flow from the tail, along the full body, and up to the tip of the beak. The outside has been painted with not-toxic titanium white artist oil paint thinned with flax oil — followed by a coat of wax. The inside is treated with flax oil and beeswax.
It is hard to tell in the photos, but the hollow is deeply undercut beneath the wings, making the sidewalls nice and thin all the way down to the bottom. It makes the hollowing process more difficult, but it is what works best for the design. Subtle things like that can make a big difference. It gives the bowl a nice feel, and makes room for more ale of course (about 24 ounces). The bowl rests on a bottom that’s in the shape of an egg. It is 11 inches long, 7 inches wide, and 4 3/4 inches high.
And one last idea: when you pop that fresh aspen bark off the log, take your watercolor pencils or greenwood pencil and draw a picture. It’s almost like painting and works with other kinds of bark as well. Great fun for kids — and for me. When the bark dries, it’s all permanent.