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An Unusual Maple Burl Bowl for the Hovland Arts Festival

I have been working hard to finish new bowls for the Hovland Arts Festival which will happen on July 5 and 6. This is one of the few arts festivals I do. I like it because it features local artists. I just completed a very special bowl for the festival. Here is its story.

Four years ago I obtained an unusual sugar maple log that was loaded with grapefruit sized burls. I had never seen anything like this. The log was 7 ft long!

Many sugar maple burls on a 7 ft long log

I turned a lot of end grain bowls from this log when it was fresh. They all sold within a year. I saved the left end of the log with part of a cluster of burls because I did not see a good way to turn it. I of course have gained a lot more experience turning difficult burls during the past 4 years and when I saw that old dry piece in my garage last week, I decided to give it a try. It is difficult to turn dry hard maple burl along the end-grain. It is dusty requiring a respirator and slow going. Tools need to be sharpened every 10 minutes. I actually love this type of challenge and could see right away that there was a hidden gem within this piece of wood. Here is an image of the trimmed burly log mounted on my Vega lathe.

Sugar maple cluster of burls ready for turning

The piece is attached to the head stock of the lathe with a 4" face plate (not visible) and also stabilized with a live center in the tail stock (shown in the above photo). The shape of the bowl evolves as it is turned (carved) to best show the burl figuring. The top of the bowl is almost flat so its rim shows the winged outer contour of the cluster of burls. The top contains the cross sections of five burls. You can see this in the images of the bowl below and in the gallery. The next image shows a side view of the bowl. The bowl measures 16" x 12" along the top and 5" deep. The wall thickness is 3/8".

The grain figuring in this bowl is spectacular with many bird’s eyes and clusters of eyes, interwoven with lace figuring. The figuring in the wings continues down into the bowl but becomes more extreme with unusual twists as the grain merges with the circular grain of the log and with other burls. The overall effect is stunning. The outer bark along the top rim came off during turning leaving an amazing outer skin with thousands of tiny sharp prickly points. Below is a gallery of photos showing more views of this interesting winged bowl. Try to determine how many small burls are contained in this bowl.

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