Figured Spalted Maple, Ebony, Holly

41"W, 58"H, 11"D

I had been wanting to try my hand at sculpture for a long time. The idea of creating pieces who's priorities  were just look pretty and show off beautiful woods was very appealing.

In the spring of 2017, I decided the time had come. I headed down into my lumber rooms with a head full of potential designs. Since it was my first attempt at a sculpture I thought I should start small – something that used fairly inexpensive materials and required a modest time commitment.

While sorting through stacks of lumber I stumbled on to this slab of spalted maple. It was totally inappropriate for any of the designs in my head, but it was such an interesting piece of wood I decided to bring it into the studio and study it for a bit. 

This slab came from the very heart of an old maple log. I bought the log and had it milled into slabs several years ago. Spalting is an early stage of degradation many woods go through. Funguses attack the wood and create dramatic coloring. The horizontal transition line in this piece is natural – somehow the spalting stopped suddenly at this point. I got 4 sequential slabs that presented this way. The rough back surface is actually the skin of the rotted out center of the tree. Many of our old local maples have rotted out centers big enough that you can walk into them. The spalted maple in the stand came from another part of the same log. The whole log was also highly figured - so the patterns and colors seem to dance.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started. The design is completely a response to this crazy slab. It progressed step by step. Much of the time I had nothing but vague ideas of what the next step would be. I put the window in the right side because there were two ugly chain saw cuts there. I came up with the idea of hanging the moon face there a month later...

I dipped heavily into my ebony collection. Holly also. I wanted these woods to tone down the busy maple a bit. I think they work beautifully together.


Bottom line – as far as sticking to the original criteria (small, quick, inexpensive), I failed completely. It is large and contains a lot of very expensive materials. It took me 8 months...

On the other hand, it was a wonderful creative experience and I’m very happy with the piece.