The pieces of willow have been drying in my shop for several months now, waiting to be picked up again and reshaped into something new.
Some small bits, however, were selected from the moment they came home. They were destined to be the first willow burls I'd ever carved and, hopefully, be ready for my two Christmas shows.
I was surprised how wet the wood was, considering it was harvested in the fall. There was so much sap that the fresh cut wood attracted large black wasps, crawling all over it as I removed the bark.
The next surprise was how quickly the willow lost its moisture. Once the rough carving was done, a warm, dry breeze meant I could do the final finishing within a couple weeks.
My main concern was the look of the final product; would it have an interesting grain or a pleasing colour? The initial appearance wasn't encouraging; it was bland and pale in tone, but after the carving was done, the willow finished drying with a very mellow patina that I quite like.
I completed a few pieces in time for my shows and several of them sold; an encouraging beginning.
The remaining forty pieces wait impatiently in the back of the shop with a dozen or more other burls . Hope springs eternal for a productive new year.
Here's wishing you health and happiness in 2014.