This past summer, we were fortunate to have a pair of wrens make a home in our yard. We enjoyed watching them flit around and hearing them sing. It also reminded me of my grandmother who loved her “Jenny wrens.”
Check on the brood in the nest box, then fly to the nearby hemlocks for a song.
I wasn’t able to catch it with the camera, but that tail is always flicking upward to a jaunty angle. I was thinking about that when I saw this tight bend in a piece of Norway maple this fall. In the photo below, I’ve hacked away everything on the outside of the pith.
I didn’t set out to make a wren, but rather a general bird form that was inspired by that lifted tail and the piece of tree itself. After some rough chalk marks, I’ve hewn away much more of the excess below. This is such a free and fun process. I’ve hewn a flat for the foot of the bowl already at this stage. I want to be able to set it upright and see the overall attitude of the lines.
Then I chop and shave away the bark and shape the upper surface. Considering the wild grain in this figured crook, I used a very coarse rasp in certain areas to roughly shape the contours. You can see the marks from the rasp on parts of the surface at this stage. I also draw a centerline and the other guidelines. This is simply freehand sketching, like drawing the form of a really big spoon.
After more axework on the exterior, I do a little work with an adze on the hollow from the sides, but otherwise the quarters are just too tight. Here I’m continuing to work the hollow with a spoon-bent gouge. The hollow is too steep and deep for a standard bent gouge.
It’s not long before that tool has reached its limits and I switch to a hook knife to continue the hollowing. The hook knife can reach back into the undercut portions of the hollow and refine the shape nicely. Lots of light cuts in this maple.
After a little more shaping to thin down the sections a little more, I set it aside to dry. Then I refine the shape and all of the surfaces. Here are some more shots of the recently finished piece.
There is a subtle contrast in textures. The main hollow and the flute under the wings are left straight from the tool, while the other surfaces have been smoothed with a card scraper and a little very fine sandpaper. Finish is flaxseed (linseed) oil. 9 1/2 inches long, 4 1/2 inches wide, and 9 1/4 inches tall. This one has found a good nest box.
I’ve got plenty to be thankful for. Thanks for taking the time to check out my posts, and I wish you a very happy day of thanksgiving.