Rain Drops by Bruce Edmundson
Most of my burls come with the bark on them. I use a high powered pressure washer to take off the bark. This can take several hours, is very noisy, and creates a big a mess. I get soaked, the dog hides, the cats run, and the neighbours wonder. I remember doing this one and knocking big parts of the burl off the main piece and wondering why. When doing the pressure washing it is a real mess, and your goggles are soon covered in water and debris making it very difficult to see what you’re doing.
Once the bark is off, it sits in a rack to dry. Once dry I stare at it, and wonder what it will turn out to be. Most are bowls, or vessels of some sort. This particular piece kept changing its mind. Sometimes I have to explore to find what I’m looking for even I don’t know what it is until I see it.
Carving this piece kept exposing sections of rot. I would go down into it with the cutting wheel on the angle grinder, and it was so soft I was getting into it much too quickly. Slow is best because, obviously, you can’t put it back once you carved it out. The rot, which manifests in various ways such as a honey comb or just as soft sponge like areas, was much worse than I had initially imagined. At first I thought I was going to lose it, meaning that it would be so thin and fragile it wouldn’t hold together. After a while, as it got thinner and thinner, I found the solid wood. I had to work at from both sides, the outside and the inside. At times there were places of no solid wood, and places where it was so thin, you could see through it. I wish I could preserve that when I got to it, but these opaque areas were like a frayed and worn cloth and soon disappeared.
Leaving my shop while working on this, and being a bit frustrated and concerned that all my hours, and the effort to de-bark, and the costs might be wasted, it had just stopped raining. It had been a short, heavy rain. The raindrops were bloated and large, plopping into the dirt and mud and leaving craters one atop another of all shapes and sizes. This caught my eye and I went back inside and took the piece outside and held it against the ground and saw the carving come alive.