When a friend of mine sent me this big chunk of fresh catalpa wood, some memories came to mind. When I was a kid we had a big catalpa tree in the yard and I had fun playing with the long beans, or cigars as we often called them. Another memorable catalpa tree was a huge specimen that lived in the front yard of my in-laws house. That was the one that ate my sandwich.
Kristin and I, newly dating, pulled into her parent’s house with sandwiches from Subway. For some reason, on my way up the front walk, I started swinging my subway bag in big vertical circles. Before my brain registered my stupidity, the bottom seam of the plastic bag gave way on the upward arc of the swing, slinging my sub high into the gnarly limbs of the catalpa. The paper wrapper burst open and bits of sandwich sifted down through the branches as Kristin’s father watched through the front picture window.
About sixteen years ago, my in-laws had to have that tree taken down and I carved a few things from it, including the bowl above for them. I borrowed it to take the photo. It’s a big bowl, but surprisingly light. Catalpa is ring porous and relatively soft, works well for dry foods and such, but not ideal for salads.
As you can see from the fresh piece, Catalpa has a greyish/greenish tint, but over time it ages to a pleasant shade of brown.
I decided to do a bird/hen bowl sort of like this one but with a longer tail. The hollow is steep and deep. You can see an apple peeking out from the roughed hollow. After the adze and bent gouge, I worked with a swan-kneck gouge (like a spoon bent gouge) and a twca cam to really get down in there.
Now it’s on to the exterior hewing and shaping. I should have that roughed out this weekend. If all goes well, we’ll see this piece of catalpa again looking more like a bowl.