Monday, November 8, 2010

Beautiful Birch Bowls

        I have recently become the owner of a set of beautiful birch bowls which were produced from my own birch trees.

        Two years ago two of my four birches decided to depart from this life. Since I had a chain saw and had felled hundreds of trees I decided to take the trees down myself. Birch trees aren't that tall and I could safely drop them inside my yard.

      I was busy taking off branches and loading them when a person I knew slightly stopped and told me his story. I knew that David was dedicated to using wood for heat and super insulating his house so that less energy would be consumed. What David wanted was part of my trees as he wanted to make bowls. David's hobby is making things on his lathe and one of the things he specialized in was bowls. So sure I told him to take what he wanted. Before he left my wife had come on the scene and  said that she would like a sample of what he would make.
     David explained the long process of making a bowl. First, he cuts the log to the diameter if the bowl. Then he cuts the log lengthwise. Now the wood is coated with wax and left to dry for about a year. This process prevents the would from splitting. When the wood is thoroughly dried he saws it  into a rough bowl shape. This piece is put on the lathe and the bowl is carved out using the lathe. Now it's waxed and left to dry again. The final process is the to finish the wood by sanding with ever finer sandpaper. And voila you have a bowl. Yes the wood is oiled to keep it from cracking and splitting. So two years later you have a birch bowl with the rich wood color and grain patterns.

    This relationship went further as David had loads of shavings which he didn't want to dispose of at the waste site. So I get shavings every year to dig into my garden. The Medicine River Wildlife Rehabilitation center takes lots of shavings for the bedding for their animals.

    I have been fortunate to visit David's shop and see the many special tools he uses and see him start on a piece of wood and shape it into a bowl. It's interesting to watch him before he starts as he looks at the wood and decides what he will produce. The skilled hands and machinery seem to magically bring a bowl out of the wood as if the bowl had always been  in the wood.

    So from the death of my trees I discovered a whole new process of making bowls. I also renewed my acquaintance with David.