People are often interested in the process that results in one of my pieces. With interpretive pieces, I either start with a solid block of wood and carve a predetermined shape, or I take what a found piece of wood gives me and try to incorporate its grained or weathered wood patterns into the design of the piece.

In the summer of 2007, I started work on a large redwood root wad I had picked up on the Pacific coast eight years earlier. It must have had an interesting history. The tree was obviously large and old. Somehow the root wad had washed into the ocean, and spent a long time traveling with the currents and pounding on beaches. A strong winter storm had deposited it on the beach above the normal high tide line, and rains and blowing sand had further worked it.

 

I am attracted to redwood burls and root wads because the chaotic grain in them enhances my carvings. I had no idea what I could carve from this root wad, but I knew it had great potential. I took it home and let it dry while I looked at it and waited for inspiration.

 

When I finally started to work on it, I rolled it onto my work bench. It weighed about two hundred pounds, and its dimensions were forty inches long, twenty high and twenty wide. It was like a rounded egg from rolling in the surf, and sand was embedded in its frazzled surface wood. There were some cracks, but I knew that the swirly grain wouldn’t crack very much. The inside of the egg was hollow, and had a sweeping root that went through the hollow.

 

In looking at all sides and positions, I decided to carve a nest predation piece with a raven that had stolen robin eggs, with the unhappy parents chasing the predator. Ravens can carry three robin eggs at a time: one in their throat pouch, and two in their beak. They are careful to not crack the shells so they deliver all of the nourishment to their young. One of the fun things about carving birds is that you learn so much interesting trivia about the birds.

 

The following pictures illustrate the journey I took over several months. They start with looking at the various sides of the root wad. What potential carvings do you see in the wood?

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