Now that I’ve made several pieces from silver maple, I feel like I’m starting to understand its character. I compare it to a no-nonsense laborer who wears flashy underpants beneath his overalls. You know.
Based on what I’ve read recently, I can get to know this tree even better by baking. In EarthWise: American Indian Traditional Uses of Native Northeast Trees by E. Barrie Kavasch, the author quotes F.W. Waugh from 1916:
“The bark of the soft maple, Acer rubra, [Red Maple], and A. saccharinum [Silver Maple], is dried beside the fire, then pounded in the mortar, sifted, and made into bread; said not to taste badly… used also by neighboring Algonkin tribes, such as the Montagnais.”
Kaviasch adds that, “this practice is immortalized in the Iroquois word Adirondack which means ‘bark eaters.'”
Incidentally, I have been trying, slowly, to learn the art of bread making, so there’s something to try with the next fresh silver maple that comes my way. For now, I’ve got this silver maple bowl.
The above two shots of opposite corners show the difference in character found within this one log. Don’t be too quick to toss a bowl in progress if you encounter a knot or two. Most often, a tight knot is no problem. Just use very light cuts and a sharp tool for the final paring. If a small knot has a soft area, you can often save it by letting some simple liquid super-glue wick into it.
The dimensions are 16 1/4″ long, 7 3/4″ wide, and 4 3/8″ high. I’ll include a few more shots below. If you’re interested in purchasing this one, the price is $625 which includes insured shipping to you. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Update: SOLD
really enjoyed the excerpt you posted. Had no idea bark was used to make bread and had no idea that Adirondack meant bark eaters. Great to learn this and see and read about your new bowl–
LikeLiked by 1 person
I can see this bark bread turning into a class idea for Paula!
That would be amazing! I cast my vote in agreement!
Distinctly different from the shots on the corners. I like a piece that has these differences. Also your comment on the first people’s use of the wood is very interesting.
LikeLiked by 1 person
What a beautiful maple bowl!!!
I have carved a couple and my only regret is not being more aggressive while the wood was green. Dry maple gets plenty hard.
THANKS very much for the spongy knot tip. I have one of those in a bowl I’m working now, and your tip will save if from the fire.
So, the bark from the lumber of those Adirondack chairs I sit in can be turned into how many loaves of bread? 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yep, Bob, even the “soft” maples are pretty tough when dry. I can’t wait to hear from whoever tries this bark flour first. Might be me.
I’m told fiber is good for you but….
Beautiful wood.. beautiful bowls.
Red maple is popular with violin makers. I wonder if the same is true with Silver. Will have to ask Hugh.
Good question Scott. I don’t know much about resonance in certain woods, but It would be interesting to know what Hugh thinks. http://www.hughhansen.com/
Oh, I’m skeptical about the bark bread. I know one is supposed to start hobbies you’re not good to keep your brain active, but what about chocolate cakes? I’m wondering how many folks would say yes to “Want to try my bark bread? ”
And sneakin it in on’me might keep them from ever eating anything you made ever again. All though that
could keep from having to bring bread from now on.
Jed, I would try your bark bread.
Another amazing one!
First, Dave, may I offer one more of the many compliments from us who recognize the skills you employ in designing and executing your exquisite bowls. In response to the comments about maple I want to explain that last December I completed forty-two years of carving functional and decorative utensils, the majority of that full-time. The wood I’ve worked most has been maple, probably accounting for ninety-percent of my production. I’ve used the band saw as a primary carving tool for both low-moisture, sawmill-processed boards and high-moisture chunks directly from the tree. Subsequent shaping has been accomplished with edge tools, rotary carving bits and powered and hand abrasives.
There are more than one-hundred species of maple worldwide and I’ve no doubt worked with fewer than a dozen. In my experience the density of some soft (red)) maple approaches that of some hard (sugar) maple and the only way to differentiate is with a hand lens. I’ve found silver maple generally to be lower density with its most positive attribute being a bone-like cream color and sheen. Maple wood stains readily in all but the coldest temperatures unless measures are taken to inhibit that. If you encounter white maple boards it’s likely that care has been taken to avoid staining. Staining aside, I’ve observed color in maple wood from nearly white to dark brown.
I’ve been fortunate to obtain rough sawn, “figured” hard maple boards from two large New York state sawmills, one reputedly the largest sawyer of maple worldwide. One of these suppliers told me that they estimated finding “figure” (curly, tiger, birdseye, blister, etc.) in about five percent of the soft maple logs they received and, for hard maple, it is present in only a small fraction of that. This should be taken as anecdotal and it varies geographically.
The indigenous people in this part of the world prize and honor the maple. Whenever I speak publicly about my career I acknowledge gratitude to my wife Barbara who has enabled me to pursue this work and the maple tree for providing such wonderful material to be shaped.
Barry, thanks very much for taking the time to share so much of your experience with maple. I know this just scratches the surface of your knowledge and understanding, and I hope folks will explore the exquisite work at your website http://barrygordon.com/ and ask questions that draw upon your experience with wood and different working methods.