Aspen Burl Platter with Lake Superior Banded Agate Figuring and a Real Lake Superior Banded Agate
This unusually shaped bowl or platter platter was turned from an aspen burl that came from Hovland, MN, not far from the shore of Lake Superior. The burl was purchased from local loggers. Aspen burls are very rare. I have never seen one in a growing tree! Loggers are lucky to get one in 1000 trees. This burl has jagged and knobby bark which accounts for the very irregular bark edge of the bowl. Aspen burls are always difficult to turn due to decay and separation of many of the grain lines. These grain lines need frequent stabilization during turning. This burl also had many soft areas and bark inclusions. These were stabilized with CA resin and dark wood powder. I probably should not have turned this burl, but the rarity and beauty of aspen burl gave me incentive to go ahead. The wood has stunning grain figuring that includes wavy grain lines or bands, tight swirls, golden to brown-red colors, and contrasting light areas that contain some flame/curl figuring (chatoyance). I call this Lake Superior banded agate figuring! During the process of sanding and re-turning the base, a large, decayed area appeared in the bottom and base of the platter. I decided to save this piece by adding and turning a new base on the bottom of the platter. I selected a special piece of African rosewood to give the platter a spectacular base (see images of the bottom of the platter). The hole in the center of the platter was filled with black epoxy (to add stability) and adorned with a real (and rare) Lake Superior agate found near my home on a rocky beach. The banding in this agate compliments the banded motifs of the aspen burl. I do not normally embellish a wood bowl, but in this case the combined effect is spectacular. The banding motif is a natural phenomenon in nature, although in this case formed by very different processes. The bowl was turned from fresh wood using handheld tools on a lathe, dried for several months, and sanded to 400 grit. Bowls turned from green wood always warp some during drying. This gives distortions that add natural charm to a bowl. The bowl was sealed with two coats of tung oil. This finish is considered food safe, although the bowl is best suited for artistic display. Aspen burl is rare and very difficult to turn. Very few wood turners work with aspen burl. It is my favorite wood to turn because it is always unusually beautiful. This bowl platter is very special and unusual. It is very unlikely I will make another piece like this! Images of the bowl platter are shown below. I have not decided to sell this bowl but will display it during the Art Along the Lake Studio Art Tour (9/22/23 - 10/1/23).