One of the things I enjoy most about greenwood carving is the challenge of making the most out of the wood that becomes available. The individual characteristics of the log or branch drive the design, while I navigate among the possible directions and destinations.
Even for pieces that don’t require a special crook or bend, the position of the growth rings and the shape of the log enter the equation. This big walnut bowl (20 inches long, 13 inches wide, and almost 7 inches high) I just finished is a good example. I don’t come across ideal logs for that design every day; a very big clear one with nice regular features.
Once I’ve busted up a log for a bowl blank, I often try to get other usable blanks within the log roughed out for drying as well. Then they can be set aside for as long as it takes to get back to them for the after-drying carving stages. A lot easier than storing a wet log in some ways, and it eliminates any storage time constraints altogether. The bowl above is one of the walnut ones waiting in the wings.
Normally, I make spoons from crooks, but with a deadline that was looming and no crooks handy, I used this straight-grained radially-split cherry blank, adapting the design to the attributes of the wood.
Here’s the handle after carving some lettering.
Then some great crooks in cherry and maple came my way. Crooks allow for different curves and thicknesses, while still maintaining strength following the fibers.
These three still need a little work and oil. Some even bigger crooks are outside in bags waiting to be bird bowls. With spring around the corner, I can hear them singing.
Some pieces of tree get me thinking about shrink pots. I get them hollowed out, and a bottom fitted, then I can get back to them eventually after drying. More on these and others down the road.
Tulip poplar or the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a very traditional wood for bowl carving, and it’s not uncommon in my neck of the woods. Somehow, I don’t think I’ve made a single bowl out of it until now. I guess I wasn’t seeking it out much if cherry and other woods were available, but I was pleasantly surprised when I dug into this tulip tree log.
In board-form, some of the best characteristics of this species are lost, I think. It grows at a rapid rate, thus the widely spaced distinct growth rings that stand out purplish against the creamy light green in between. For better or worse, this distinction will mellow to an extent over time.
The strong pattern of the growth rings in this log was just one thing to consider. It was from the butt of the tree, so the lower end of the log flared out more widely as it transitioned into the root buttress. Going with the flow, I decided on an asymmetrical bowl with one broader, taller, and steeper end.
Roughed out for now, and I’ll return to it some day after drying. Anyone got a shovel?