There’s No Blemish


In nature there’s no blemish but the mind,

None can be called deformed but the unkind.

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act III, scene iv

As I was cutting and collecting this storm-fallen silver maple, I noticed in the end-grain the dark streaks and stains running through the creamy colored wood.  As more of the beautiful blemish was revealed during the carving process, I decided to carve the first line of a couplet from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night that expressed much of what I was thinking.  That guy knew how to say things.





On the exterior, I carved a strong texture, and I really like the way it feels and contrasts with the curves.



This entry was posted in bowls, finding wood, Lettering, quotes and excerpts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to There’s No Blemish

  1. nrhiller says:

    Oh. My. Lord. What a thing of beauty.


  2. Kalia Kliban says:

    I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of your word choices for your pieces. As well as being gobsmacked by your lettering…


  3. Once again. Just lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. GUR says:

    From Spain, I wanted to say that your work is an inspiration for me. I have always worked the wood and I think that what you do has a talent and quality that I think I have never seen before.
    It is also a pleasure to read your didactic and generous explanations with which I learn so much.
    An affectionate greeting. (Sorry if there are any errors in the text, but I have supported the Google translate …)


  5. Scott Thomas says:

    Truly a thing of beauty … nature made then embellished by man. Great work. I have to remind myself as I begin my carving journey that even though older, I have much to learn and not try to mimick the younger master in order to not get discouraged.


  6. Ron says:

    Another work of beauty!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tone says:

    Beautiful. What gouge did you use to get that effect on the inside (e.g. make/width/sweep)? I think at one time you might have used an 40mm wide HK Radious 70mm or something like that. If I use my R150 HK gouge, it leaves very little texture behind. Did you use the same gouge to texture the outside? It looks a little deeper but perhaps that is just the lighting.

    The incised decoration is so crisp & clean, as always 🙂 Penknife? Do you leave the wood to dry a long time before carving the decoration? Do you oil the bowl before getting to the decoration (I am guessing not)? I recently carved an stylized ash tree – loosely base on one of your designs – using a V-tool into the base of a bowl I had carved for my son and I am pleased with the result. I had a couple of comments on the tree along the lines “did you carve that?”, which I think was a good sign(?) 😀


    • Dave Fisher says:

      I’ve got a few bent gouges that I use in different ways. I think I used a #5 sweep 16 mm on this bowl. For the outside on this one, I used a steeper sweep, I think a #7.

      Yes, penknife. I leave the bowl to dry completely before I do the final surface carving, and the letter carving happens after that, so yes, dry wood at that point. I apply the oil only after all of the carving, including the lettering is done.

      Congratulations on the tree carving. Lot’s of fun, and a great feeling when it works out!


  8. Hans says:

    Hi David, just gorgeous piece of work and words. makes me speechless.

    Grtz Hans

    Liked by 1 person

  9. francedozois says:

    stunning piece and your choice of words to quote is equally stunning–

    Liked by 1 person

  10. docinstein says:

    Hi Dave. The Ambrosia beetle bores through the live tree.They carry a living fungus on there head.The fungus lives on the sawdust made by the tunneling beetle.The beetle lives on the fungus.The tree forms the wonderfull flame patterns.When the tree dies the beetle dies because the moisture is gone. Sometimes when the tree dies the woodworker preserves what the creator has given.Thanks again for the great time at Greenwood fest.My bowl work is improving because of your teaching.



  11. Bob Easton says:

    Your inscriptions are always so wonderfully appropriate. Love this one!

    My first two bowls, just now coming to form, are from a silver maple log. The first was virtually clear, the second “blemished” like the bowl you show. It was a bit of an unexpected “feature,” but beautiful nonetheless. Maybe it’s a silver maple thing?

    THANKS for all the education. I enjoy many forms of woodworking and woodcarving, but bowl making has really struck home, and your education makes it possible (esp. the Fine Woodworking video series). Thanks!


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