No need to embellish

I sometimes consider adding some sort of embellishment on my next project–a band of texturing or pyrography, perhaps.

And then I get something with grain like this…

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…and I realize that anything I could possibly add would be like gluing sequins on a lily; it would only detract from the beauty that’s inherent in the material.

Work in progress, American elm.

A plain elm milestone

Late last summer, my wife’s aunt had to have all of the elm trees on her property cut down because they had become infected with Dutch Elm disease. For some reason, the tree service left one stump intact (they ground up the rest of them), so I decided to see what I could make of it.

I sliced it into a couple of thick slabs, and then roughed out a pair of large bowls, which I placed in paper bags to slowly dry. (Letting wet wood dry slowly helps avoid the cracking and checking that happens when it dries too quickly.)

Here’s the first of the pair, which coincidentally, is the 100th bowl that I have finished.

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American elm is a lovely hard wood, with an interlocking grain that creates some interesting patterns that shift as you view it from different angles. (The technical term is chatoyance.) Here’s a look at what I’m talking about.

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10 3/8″ diameter, 2 3/4″ high. Danish oil finish.

Redbud natural edge

My wife and I spent some time visiting family in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area the week before Easter. While walking in my brother’s Grand Prairie neighborhood, I found some chunks of an unknown species of wood sitting on the curbside, waiting for the garbage pickup.

I’m not one to turn my nose up at free wood, so I grabbed a few chunks. After some research, I determined that it’s redbud (Cercis canadensis). It turns beautifully and takes a nice finish without much fuss.

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The logs I took were kind of knobby, hinting at some possible burl-like figuring. Here’s a closer look at the figuring that I found.

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7 3/4″ long, 5 1/2″ wide, 2 1/2″ high. Danish oil finish.