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Bowls from a 120 Year old Silver Maple Tree

I was contacted by a person who asked if I could turn some bowls from special wood. The wood came from old silver maple (Acer saccharinum) trees that were planted by his great grandparents in the late 1800's. They arrived from Sweden with their parents (his great, great grandparents) in 1879, 141 years ago. He discovered the location of their homestead in an 1898 plat map of Isanti county, Minnesota. The current owners of the land shared a photo of the old farm taken in 1903 just after his grandparents had moved. A stand of young silver maples were visible around the house. These same trees are still there today, so they are at least 120 years old. The trees today are very large, and some have recently come down, thus the logs for bowls. These trees were planted by his great grandparents over 120 years ago! He also told me that his great, great grandparents died while living in this homestead and are likely buried somewhere in the yard (there are no grave markings).

The wood has obvious significance to the family, so I am excited about this project. I really like turning wood that has a back story. I find that I connect to the history of the wood and to the people involved. I think about this while I am carving the wood on the lathe. This story is particularly interesting because my wife was born and grew up in Sweden and has been interested in Swedish immigration to Minnesota. We have been in the general area of this old homestead.

The logs to be turned are both branch crotches so there is hope of some interesting figuring. The following two photo galleries show the respective pieces of wood and the resulting finished bowls. The first bowl is about 8” in diameter and 6” high, the second bowl is 11” in diameter and 8” high. Both have great spalting (consistent with their old age), orange and brown colors, some curl, and beautiful feather figuring in the areas between the crotch branches. I am so happy these bowls turned out so nicely.

Images of the smaller bowl and the crotch from which it was turned. Click on an image to enlarge it and enable a slide show of larger images.

Images of the larger bowl and the crotch from which it was turned. Click on an image to enlarge it and enable a slide show of larger images.


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