Walnut Bowls and Hosta Flowers

Earlier this week, I was preparing to take some photos in the shop of two recently-finished walnut bowls, but the light filtering into the shop wasn’t really bringing out the color variations in the wood. I looked into the back yard and saw the light hitting the hosta flowers, and took the bowls out there.

This first one is a long open form in a style that I’ve done many times, but it had been a little while.

I was reminded of the time required to carve the complex exterior form and to get the flow of the lines just so. And I think you can see what I mean about the right light revealing the color variations in the walnut.

And then it’s on to the necklace. I wrote an article for Fine Woodworking Magazine (Issue #263) five years ago about carving this bowl form as well as the necklace. It’s still a fun challenge, and I learn some subtle thing every time I make it.

The proportions (usually determined by the particular piece of wood) within the design can vary widely and still work well. This iteration is 19 1/2″ long, 9 1/2″ wide, and about 4″ high.

I weighed the finished bowl out of curiosity; 1 lb., 9 3/8 oz.

And the shot above is for all of you using that newfangled system.

Chip was patiently waiting as I snapped the photos. He read that hostas are poisonous to dogs, so he doesn’t eat them. He lays on them instead.

I already have a home for that first walnut bowl, but his little brother is available:

Still walnut, but many different elements to the form and detail that make it more straightforward to carve. Smaller too, at 13″ long, 6 1/2″ wide, and 3 1/2″ high. Three more shots below.

Update: SOLD

Hosta flowers weren’t the only ones on display. The first rose of Sharon flower bloomed at the edge of the yard. The bumble bees will be happy, like the one I showed in this post a few years ago.

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11 Responses to Walnut Bowls and Hosta Flowers

  1. Karl says:

    Wowsers, what a beautiful bowl! And awesome photos too — you’re a great photographer as well as being the Best Bowl Carver Ever.


  2. Bobs Email says:

    Thanks for the Walnut bowls and the iconic bench/stool upon which to set them.

    Bob Simmons

    Sent from my iPad



    • Dave Fisher says:

      Glad you noticed the bench, Bob. I made that thing from an elm plank, with cherry legs, 15 or 20 years ago, and it has come in handy in many ways in the shop and elsewhere. Same techniques I used for making Jennie Alexander’s shave horse, tapered reamer and all that. Wonderful way to build, and I’ve made some, more finished, coffee tables, end tables, and that sort of thing in the same way. And my low bench…:https://davidffisher.com/2017/01/22/lowrider/


  3. Marco says:

    It was seeing this exact form of yours in walnut that inspired me to dive into greenwoodworking, so it’s always a special pleasure to see you revisit the style. In the first bowl, it always strikes me how much the outer arc of the necklace gives the illusion of continuity—it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    Both masterfully executed as ever and an absolute joy to behold, thank you for sharing.


    • Dave Fisher says:

      Thanks, Marco. Interesting that you noticed that. I remember being pleasantly surprised by that phenomenon when I first carved it. Those are fun moments. Best wishes for your carving.


  4. Tone says:

    Nice bowls, I particularly like the first/longer one – impressively slim sides/ends but smaller bowl is impressive (and useful) too.

    Walnut is a real premium wood 🙂 , lovely and has useful properties too. BTW I found some box wood a while back, decent size but too small for a bowl. Used a small piece to make a wedge for one of my vintage wooden plough plane’s guide rails..

    Coincidentally wife is very keen on hostas, and Euphorbias, too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gene Felder says:

    Beautiful! What else is there to say?
    I would like to ask you about weighing the piece. I have a food scale and I typically weigh a drying piece every day. When the difference is less the .02 oz, I figure it’s dry enough to proceed to the next or final steps. At times when it is this dry and the day has been very humid, the piece actually increases .01 or so ounces. Any thoughts? Am I being too neurotic?


    • Dave Fisher says:

      Well, I’m hardly the person to judge neuroticism, Gene. But I can tell you that that degree of moisture measurement is much more appropriate for chair or furniture building. I weigh sometimes but I usually have several pieces that have been roughed out, so there’s no rush to get to a piece that is drying. I just pick it up and can tell by the coolness/warmth, general feel of the weight, and the tone when rapped with a knuckle that It’s dry enough to go on. Dry enough for what you’re trying to accomplish is all that matters.
      That said, weighing on a scale is an excellent and simple way to tell if a piece is still losing moisture. It can still be not quite to equilibrium moisture content and leave a fine surface from the cutting edge. But you want it to reach EMC, ideally, before the final flattening of the foot. Then, like all wood, it will continue to gain and lose weight forever based on temperature and humidity, as you’ve noticed. A 40 year old coffee table, if you put it on a scale, would weigh more, around here, in July than in January. Come to think of it, maybe I can attribute it to the humidity when the scale shows that I’ve gained a few pounds.


      • Gene Felder says:

        thanks for your response Dave. I think my problem is that I am too much of a rush to finish the bowl. I think my goal is to leave that fine surface, especially when adding chip carved design. I need to trust my knuckle. In the meantime I’ll look further into reaching EMC. Love to have another class!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dave Fisher says:

        I’ve seen your bowls, Gene, so whatever you’re doing is working!
        I’ll look forward to carving with you in another class sometime too. Right now, circumstances are keeping me close to home, but we’ll have some fun together in the future.


  6. Beautifully executed. I love the transitions between smooth sections and the areas where the gouge facets are accentuated.

    Liked by 1 person

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