For me as an artist, the challenge and creativity starts when I acquire a burl.
The size, shape, texture and features such as birds eye is all taken into consideration when I begin to visualize a finished piece of burl art. My burls are stored in the carving shed, stashed on shelves near the carving bench. After picking up a burl out of the clutter of the wood storage area, I reflect on what may be possible, what does the burl’s shape reveal, is there a tentative image forming in my mind, or will I know more once the initial carving and sculpting begins when more of the burl’s beauty is revealed.
Once the image is formed, I start to sculpt the rough shape, using a variety of hand and power tools. Usually I begin by carving the burl upside down, outside first, to see where the rot and flaws may be before I create a flat bottom. Then I can begin to work on the inside, which will help define the ultimate shape and interesting features. This process may even change the image of what was initially visualized. When flaws can be incorporated into the finished design, the piece is often far more pleasing than a “perfect” piece.
Whatever the decision (occasionally I must discard the whole burl), once the rough sculpting-out has finished, the carving begins. With my reverence for wood and my love of being alone in my carving shed, seeing a striking piece of wood art evolve is very rewarding.
Eventually, when the sanding begins, starting usually with 40 grit, the grain and colour presents itself. The revelation of the wood’s beauty at this stage can be full of surprises. I sand up to 320 grit and it can take hours. Often I work on several commissioned pieces at once.
To finish a piece requires two to three coats of pure Tung oil, and where the piece will be used for food serving, then bees wax is applied and buffed. If the wood art piece is only going to be decorative, then other finishes are used.
If you should purchase one of my creations, I hope you will derive as much pleasure from it as I had making it.