Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vase and Flowers from Trail Debris

In early February, I took my daughter to a natural area near our house.  She rode her tricycle along the path, and stopped to pick up all kinds of debris.  Dried up weeds, bits of branches that had blown off trees, pinecones, etc.  Most of it she tried to bring home, packing it along on the back of the trike or trying to make me carry it.  At first I furtively tossed it back into the woods when she wasn't looking, but then she handed me a big clump and I got an idea.  So we collected a few handfuls, and I snapped off a dry teasel stem that had survived the winter.

Back at the parking lot, we went to look around in a wooded area that had been cleared of underbrush a couple of years before.  I found a wet chunk of mystery log, only slightly rotted, and we took it home with the other materials.  She insisted on hauling the log into the garage on her own.

 Back in the shop, here's a "before" kind of shot.

I cut the log in half on the bandsaw.  I can't identify the wood species, but I suspect it to be Prunus laurocerasus, English or Cherry Laurel.  It's a common invasive escapee in the woodlands around the city.  The wood was pretty dense, had no odor, and had a bit of spalting.  I quartered the round to make a blank for the lathe.

Once I got it on the lathe, it wasn't the best turning material.  Chunks tore out during roughing, and it cut fuzzy unless I used a very sharp skew and a light cut.  I sketched an outline on the blank before I started the shaping.

I sanded the little vase, but didn't put any finish on it, mostly because it was still soaking wet.  If it doesn't self-destruct from the drying process, I might put some shellac on it in a few months.  All in all, it turned out pretty cute for something made of materials collected by a toddler.

Not bad for "flowers" in mid-winter