My Wood Turning Album on Facebook says
‘Sometimes something besides sawdust and wood shavings comes out of my shop.’ A number of those items are bowls. Big ones, little ones, most are turned with a use in mind. One of the questions I am asked is: “What happens to a bowl?’ Here is one answer.
This bowl started life as part of an Elm Tree. It was planted many years ago, perhaps it was not planted, and just landed there. As the tree grew, the power lines got in the way and the branches were trimmed. The tree provided shade to those that paused under it. Shade to the houses, and a perch for many birds. In the summer of 2012 the Elm was not in the best shape. Somewhat lop sided due to the need to protect the power lines, it was still impressive. The main trunk was about 36 inches at ground level. The tree branched out in many ways. The houses near by were within the shade and within the fall of branches as the wind blew. The homeowners felt very thankful for the shade and their time with the tree. The time had come.
The arborist came out and found why so many branches were dropping with minor winds. The tree was dying, from the inside out. So it was cut back and finally cut down. This is quite a process to watch, as guys climb up the tree with safety ropes and chain saws. The smaller branches drop around the tree, then the larger high branches. The rain of branches dropping stops from time to time. The branches are cleared away and those worth recycling are cut up and stacked. Then the process repeats itself. Eventually, the tree was down and the large trunk was cut into manageable pieces.
I was luck enough to pick up some of this wonderful tree. I have turned a few items. The half log this bowl came out of was placed on the lathe last summer. The tree was still alive when it was cut down. So I partially turned this one to help it dry out. Then it put it aside to see how it dried out. This one did rather well. No cracks or splits and not much warping. Last winter, it went back on the lathe to turn down to the finished size.
I removed more waste and cleaned up the shape. Along the way, I found some evidence of worms and other pieces of the decay process the arborist saw that was killing the tree from the inside out. Over Labor Day weekend the turning and sanding was completed. The bottom was labeled and an oil finish was applied.
Since this bowl is designed as a Popcorn Bowl, 11 inches across and 5 inches tall, an oil finish is perfect. The oil from popcorn will continue to renew the finish for years to come. Some time last winter I posted an in progress picture of this bowl on the lathe to Twitter. I had a question regarding the price of a bowl like that. I thought about it and responded that this bowl would be donated to a local charity for their silent auction fundraiser. Then I got an idea for increasing the value and thus boost the auction results.
The idea of boosting the Silent Auction results, causes a trip to our local Dillon’s Store. A few items from the shelf and some clear gift wrap from the knowledgeable staff at the Floral Center. Here they are putting the finishing touches on the wrapping.
This Popcorn Bowl is ready. It is a heavy bowl, suitable for passing around the room during movie night or for a football game. The beads near the rim will help those buttery fingers hold on. Any type of snack with some butter, oil or other similar snack will renew the finish. Just wipe out with a dry cloth, ( or damp, if you wish.)
This little part of the big Elm tree, is now ready for a new chapter. The tree that took so many years to grow up, all the while sheltering the people and birds and other animals that paused for a few minutes or a few years, will continue to provide comfort and shelter to another family.
I took this Bowl to Wichita Habitat for Humanity this afternoon. It will be part of the Silent Auction at their annual Raise the Roof event this Saturday evening. Here are a couple of the wonderful staff at Wichita Habitat accepting the donation.