|crafted to keep||
In this post, I am offering a glimpse into my working process. One of the main elements in my Keeps is wood and in this particular case, Black Locust. The wood that I use is harvested from fallen (not felled) trees and is cut into manageable sized logs on site with my trusty chainsaw. Then I load the material into my (also trusty) pickup and transport it to my studio for further processing. The next step is to cut off both ends of the log. This is done to square up the ends and remove any wood that has begun to split...
Once I square up the ends of the log, I make a cut down the length of the log through the pith, which is the concentric center of the growth rings of the tree. Once this cut is made, the log opens up like a book to reveal its story. As a potter, this first read gives me the same awesome sensation of opening a kilnload of freshly fired pottery. Many folks equate it to a kid on Christmas morning, and rightly so!
After cutting the log into two halves, I take it to the band saw where I lay the flat face down against the saw table and cut the sides square to the cut face. Then I fasten the wood to a jig and cut the bark side of the log away. I now have a thick piece of lumber, soon to be part of a Keep!
This slab can be left as is or cut down into thinner pieces depending on what type of lid I intend to make out of the wood. The slabs are sealed and left to dry for a year or more. In my next blog post, I will explain where the slab goes from here. I would like to thank my wonderful life partner, Amy Heinbuch for taking these great photographs and thank YOU for checking in!
The iron stained oak has undergone a full transformation from the milled slab you see above to the Keep shown below. The pairing with a shino and salt glazed wood fired pot has proven to be more gratifying than I could have envisioned. An added touch of aluminum in the handle adds a bit of lightness to the palette. Iron or steel would have been an obvious choice for the handle but sometimes we have to go beyond the obvious to get to what looks good...
Autumn is here and the sap is running which means it's time to tune up the old band saw as my pickup truck bed runneth over. The wooden elements in Keeps are harvested locally from fallen trees and then processed for future consideration. The curing process takes a minimum of one year before this material will be ready for use. Pottery has taught me patience, woodworking has challenged my patience. I was fortunate the other day to get a cache of Crepe Myrtle and Holly stumps and have spent the weekend milling the material down into slabs on my band saw. With proper care and, yes... patience these slabs will be used in the future for Keeps.
This example of Crepe Myrtle comes from the crotch of the tree, which is the most interesting part to me. Two branches diverge to create a mess of interesting grain patterns and colors.
Here is a sample of Holly, which is an extremely light colored wood. It is sitting on Poplar boards to show how much paler it is than that wood which is relatively light in color. It also has very minimal grain pattern which will lend a delicate air to just the right Keep.
I also milled a few pieces of Easern Red Cedar and am beginning to appreciate the place where the heartwood mingles with the sapwood. There is an interesting shift taking place there that is akin to the touch of the flame on a nice wood fired pot.
I had been saving a few pieces of Oak that turned up in last years firewood pile. The tree had engulfed a barbed wire fence and these chunks contained reminants of that fence in the wood. I was waiting for my band saw blade to go dull so that I could mill these pieces without the guilt and expense of ruining a good blade. What was inside was spectacular! The fence wire, which is visible in this picture as four silver dots has stained the wood black in places and the wood grain shows the activity of the tree growing around the inclusion. Also, the direction of the cut revealed the ray flecks in the wood that give this slab the characteristic quarter sawn appearance. This "firewood rescue" is already dry so I will be incorporating it into a Keep straight away, stay tuned!
Hello all, and welcome (back). I am proud to introduce my new creations to everyone interested. The focus as of late has been on my Keeps, which combine clay, wood and sometimes metal in a jar/box form. These works are titled Keeps for a few reasons. They are intended to keep things within them and to keep in your art collection for generations. One of the definitions of the word keep refers to a large tower in a castle that is a fortified refuge. I feel that this accurately captures the feeling I have for the work I produce. A special, secure, aesthetically pleasing presence in your modern castle.