This tulip poplar log came to me with a history. John’s son-in-law explained to me that John watched this tree grow and would often comment on its simple beauty and growth when they were together. A couple years ago, John passed on. Since then, John’s humble but special tulip poplar had to come down and I was asked to make a bowl as a reminder that both would be missed.
After some thought, I decided on an asymmetric form that followed the flare of this butt log and the simple meaningful message “John P. D’Apolito loved this tree.” I never knew John, but I think this short message reveals something of him and mankind’s relationship to nature, and it feels good to know that it will be in his daughter’s home.
I shared the early progress on this bowl at the end of this post. Here are a couple photos following the post-drying carving stage, but before the lettering.
I worked out the lettering design on paper before drawing on the bowl itself. I sketched the general shape of the handles in ink, then played around with the lettering in pencil.
Once I liked it, I propped up the sketchbook and drew the idea fresh onto the handle. Same thing for the “loved this tree” handle.
Even then, they’re only pencil lines — strong suggestions. The knife has the final word.
My specific tools and techniques vary depending on the hardness of the wood, size of the letters, and other variables. For this tulip poplar, I hogged away much of the material with a larger knife. My left hand would normally be involved as well for control. I made refinements with the penknife blade. Slow and steady.
Phew. Here is one handle finished…
…and the other
I’m always fascinated by how the appearance of v-incised lettering, and a bowl for that matter, changes with the angle of light and point of view:
Some oil and it’ll be all ready for action.