“Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.”
Each piece of tree comes with it’s own history and quirks. I look closely and start thinking about possibilities. Usually this will result in a variation on some design I’ve carved before, but this cherry log directed me toward something a little more different. I neglected to take photos of the log, but it was the location of a few big knots that led me to this asymmetrical egg-shaped bowl with the flat split-side up.
I had a call for a big family salad bowl and this design would fit the bill. This is a relatively deep bowl steeply rising on the wide end…
…with a more gradual slope at the narrow end. Like it swallowed an egg.
For most of my bowls, a bent gouge can negotiate the entire hollow, but on the steep end of this one, the bent gouge — a Hans Karlsson in this case, but it would be the same for others as well — reaches its limits partway down. The handle begins to hit the inner edge of the rim, preventing the cutting edge from following the contour any further.
So, I finish the rest with a spoon bent gouge with a similar sweep. (A “swan-neck” or “dog-leg” gouge would do it as well. Different names, same idea.) The darker surface to the left is still waiting for these after-drying paring cuts.
After sketching out the pattern of graduated chips around the rim, I begin by stabbing the vertical sidewalls of the chips with a chisel. Same idea as chip carving with a knife, but with this many chips in dry cherry, the chisel makes sense. The deepest part is at the apex of the triangle toward the inside of the bowl, so I’ve angled the chisel that way and will stop the downward pressure when the cutting edge just kisses the outer edge of the rim.
Then the same chisel can cut the bottom and remove the chip. The corner of the chisel rides along one sidewall. When the cutting edge meets the other sidewall, out pops the chip.
There’s an apple down in there for scale in the photo below. Plenty of room for a big salad.
Dare I say even more gorgeous than the fantastic work you regularly produce.
That doesn’t sound exactly right, but Dang!, I like that bowl.
Thanks, Jed! Sounds just fine.
Amazing work as always!
How long do you usually leave these to dry before making the finishing cuts?
Hi Russ. I wait until it’s dry — usually that can be in as little as a week. For smaller bowls, it can be sooner. It varies based on the design, the weather, etc. I just go by the feel of the surface, the sound, the weight. And there’s plenty of wiggle room.
I usually have a few different projects at different stages underway, and other hats to wear, so it often takes me much longer than necessary to get back to a piece. I don’t remember exactly, but I think it might have been a year ago that I roughed out that bowl from the green log.
There are so many things to like about this stunning bowl, beyond the unusual shape. I especially enjoy the texture contrast between the tops of the handles and the smoothed rim and inner surfaces.
Before this beauty gets away from you, please grab one more picture … of what you carved in the base. I can see one of your trademark trees there, but can’t make out the inscription.
Gonna need a large family for that much salad!
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Thank you, Bob. The inscription was simply a family name under the tree. Didn’t want to spoil any potential surprises for anyone, so I didn’t include a detail shot.
Beautiful work! Love the little stepdown you created around the chip carved rim. Stunning piece of cherry also!
Thanks, John. The edge of the stepdown was carved with a v-tool, then the wood on the handles carved away down to the bottom of the v groove.
Another wonderful piece! The crispness of the top detail is stunning. I believe the demarcation on the bottom of the bowl from end to in is much more pleasing than if it was not there. The quality of the log…geeze I live in the wrong part of the country for any wood like that!
Thanks, Skip. There are homes for sale here in Greenville!
Another very cool bowl. Like it. 😉
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Another beauty!! I noticed when you use the diamond shape on the patterns of your bowls you have the tips facing in. The Sami seem to have the tips facing out, maybe the radius of the sun effect. Any particular reason you like the tips facing in? Maybe just more eye pleasing. Also how wide is the rim on the sides where the diamonds are on this bowl? I have a black walnut bowl I am presently working on and would like to continue the chip carving diamond all around. A new challenge for me. Depending on the size of the diamond I use, I am thinking 1/2 ” to 5/8″ wide. Thanks again for the inspiration.
Hi Paul. I don’t know much about Sami design, but I think this sort of pattern is pretty universal across many cultures. I suppose whether the tips are facing in or out depends on if you are focusing on the positive or negative space created by the chips. In this case, the choice of orientation was a practical one. The tips are the deepest point of this type of chip, therefore they really can’t be on the outer edge of the rim with no wood left beyond them. The back side of these chips is actually level with the surface, so it leaves an unbroken line at the outer edge of the rim. If you want the tips of the chips to face outward, you can do that, but the chips would be on the inner side of the rim beside the hollow. I decided against that just to keep them a little further from the food and such, but it would be fine.
As far as width of the rim, it gets gradually narrower as it nears the front of the bowl. I don’t have the bowl with me any more, but I would say the width of the rim gets down to 1/2″ or so. The chips don’t go the whole way across the width of course, and the chips are also graduated in size, getting smaller as the rim gets narrower.
Good luck with the walnut bowl experiment. With your chip carving experience, I’m sure it will turn out great.
Thanks Dave, Good tip about wood thickness and the tip being the deepest part of the triangle. I think I will keep my deep part in the center of the chip. I have put some chip carved patterns on the handles of some bowls. First time to go around the rim with the triangles. I”m in the rough stage, will let you know when it gets finished how it turns out. It is always fun to try something new.
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