The last time I was at my childhood home (where my mom still lives), I dug through my father’s pile of wood that he was drying and saving for one of his many woodworking projects. I found a lovely piece of maple that was very rough, had broken pieces, was grey and weathered but I could also see that it had some serious character. It was a piece of wood my dad had cut down, probably for someone who needed a tree taken down because it was in a tricky spot, perhaps hanging over their roof or power lines, or one that had broken apart in a snow storm. He had split it, noticed the ripples that hinted at figuring (you’ll see in a photo below), and set this piece aside for later.
Later never came, as his life ended much too early due to cancer, 14 years ago today. I thank God every day for him and all that he taught me about life and wood. It is in his honour that I present to you this sculpted vase.
It is carved in figured maple. I left the remains of a split down the one face, and smoothed out the other sides. One edge is painted white with acrylic into which I sculpted the repeating pattern. There is a hole in the top for dried flowers or branches. The finish is a custom blend of tung oil, spar varnish, and mineral spirits, buffed by hand to a smooth, soft feel.
I used my father’s crosscut hand saw (to trim the bottom flat, which I had to do twice to remove all the splits in the wood). then I used a 1 inch wide #3 gouge, followed by a 20 mm wide #2 gouge to flatten the faces. I used a V gouge to sculpt a curved line on one face. Then I used a card scraper to smooth the sides and yet retain the natural curves in the wood. I painted the one edge and used a 6mm #9 gouge to sculpt the pattern in it. The hole in the top was tricky because of the slope, and I pondered for a while how to drill it, but my father’s hand powered bit brace (a large drill) worked like a charm and was much safer than trying to clamp an irregular piece of wood into my drill press. In the end, I decided it was much faster too, something my father always said was true for that drill. The last tool I used was some 320 grit sandpaper. Oh, and a quality paint brush – can’t forget that!
The size is 19.5″ tall by 10″ wide and 3.5″ thick.
Thanks Dad, for the gifts you keep giving long after you’ve passed. I miss you every day. I think you’d be happy with this vase.
If you want to see a video of it in better light, click here for my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/p/CBUXfu5A22o/?igshid=xyj0mj7s0vn6
Some in progress pics: