Playing With Cool Sticks

IMG_9809Green woodworking can imply more than just the general notion of working wood that is still relatively fresh with a high moisture content.  Among other things, the term connotes the idea of working with nature, sensitively considering the unique attributes of each bit of tree, rather than thinking of a chunk of wood as just so much plastic.  The carver has to be flexible and adapt to what nature has provided in terms of the flow of fibers and other characteristics.  This can be a serendipitous journey between hands and material as the destination is slowly revealed.  To me, this is one of the most fun aspects of greenwood carving; I just like to play with cool sticks.

I gathered the stick that became this goose-inspired bowl from a small cherry tree that, after years of fighting for light beneath the canopy, had fallen in the woods.  Much of it was in the early stages of decay.  Among other pieces I put in my pack on successive walks, there was a sharp crook with patches of bark already missing and fungus at work on the sapwood.


As I worked with it back in the shop, the solid heartwood revealed dark streaks and dramatic color variations.  The bend in the fibers guided the design and allowed for a thin elongated tail and a neck stretching upward.


The twist in those fibers directed the serpentine line that flows from the beak to the tip of the tail.


I don’t usually sand pieces, but in this case I didn’t want texture competing with the dramatic figure and color of the tree.  Scraping and sanding achieved the effect I wanted with this one.  Actually, there is some subtle contrast in the texture through the piece, with the inside surface left from the hook knife and the underside of the wings left from the gouge.  Fingertips will notice.


It’s 14 inches measured in a straight line from the beak to the tip of the tail, 8 1/2 inches high, and 3 1/2 inches wide.  I need to hold on to this one for now, but I should have some other things to offer up soon.

Hoping you find some cool sticks this week.

This entry was posted in bird bowls, bowls, cherry, figure, finding wood, green woodworking, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Playing With Cool Sticks

  1. Tad Kepley says:

    It’s fantastic Dave. The top and the bottom of the piece are equally beautiful. Great save for a piece of cherry that would have otherwise just rotted on the forest floor.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. William Auld says:

    Truly extraordinary!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. sorornishi says:

    Well appreciated, by another stick collector.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Daniel says:

    What I like about your work: it gives me inspiration to work better, more freely with the pieces of wood in front of me. To find the « form » in the wood is the process that I like the most. Merci beaucoup.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. RICK Erman says:

    Another wonderful piece – thanks for sharing and inspiring !

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


    Liked by 2 people

  6. RICK Erman says:

    Any chance you have a pix of this before you started carving ?

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      I looked hard, Rick, but couldn’t find any photos of the early stages. I usually remember to snap a couple photos, but must not have in this case. I collected that wood and roughed out the piece green maybe two years ago; just returned to it recently.


  7. fmvan says:

    Very nice-
    I brought a few pieces of sassafras to Spoon Day – and made a very interesting crooked spoon out of a leftover.
    Hope you get to the Adirondack Experience to see some boats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      It was nice to talk with you at Spoon Day, Fred. Glad your sassafras worked out. Thanks again for the tip on the Adirondack Experience Museum. I explored their website as well as that of the ADK wooden boat shop. Would love to make it up there in person sometime.


  8. Emil Dahl says:

    Beautiful bird Dave, and I really appreciate that you shared how you utilized other techniques to bring this carving to fruition. Although carving is our favorite pastime, I realize that “working” the wood to the desired finale is every bit as fun, enjoyable, satisfying and ultimately awesome!


    Liked by 1 person

  9. francedozois says:

    beautiful piece as always and a great save–

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Joel Paul says:

    This is a perfect reminder to look at the world with an open mind, and to work with what we are given.
    I needed this.
    Beautiful piece Dave!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dave Fisher says:

    Well said, Joel. Thanks. It was great to meet and work with you last month. Wishing you much inspired work time in your shop this summer!


  12. Pingback: Two Upcoming Exhibitions | David Fisher, Carving Explorations

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