A burl on a tree looks like a wart, but it’s actually scar tissue. At one point in time, the tree has been damaged by an object hitting it or some kind of insect or disease. If you cut off the burl with a saw, you will find a mass of colors, grain directions and other markings that make it stunningly beautiful.
A couple of years ago, I was gifted with a Siberian elm that was full of burls. One of my pastimes is wood turning and this farmer, Bruce Regier, saw my posts on Facebook of my early attempts at wood turning. Yet, when he gave me the log, I knew I had to up my game considerably in order to do justice to that rare find. It’s taken me some time to build the skill set and get the right equipment that I need to honor the wood. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from farmers is to be patient and have faith. Take your time and good things will happen.
When I first gazed at the log laying in the back of my trailer, I knew I had a rare gem and wondered what I could do with that to help fulfill my greatest passion and that is to feed the hungry. It dawned on me that I could create pieces of art and offer them for a donation to my favorite nonprofit, and one I also work for, The Outreach Program. Feeding the hungry is what we do best. Turning wood and offering it like this helps me keep me centered in my why.
To date, several thousand people have received meals because of the donations to The Outreach Program for meals. This piece will feed even more.
This piece is also a reminder of the exquisite beauty that hides within our scars and the scars of others. When I cut these burls away from the regular grain, I keep those regular pieces as well, but they aren’t nearly as beautiful when turned.
I suppose the best part of turning for me is coaxing beauty out of pieces of wood that appear to be ugly. Often, my best pieces come from wood headed to the burn pile like this recent piece of persimmon.
And this piece of walnut that was a slab from a local saw mill owned by Jesse Busenitz that was headed to the burn pile.
There’s beauty hidden in all scars if we have the patience and the right tools to find them.
I have long loved working with wood, but the joy I have found in woodturning is unparalleled with any other form of woodworking. I think the best part is that I find meaning in taking something ugly and/or discarded by others and releasing the beauty within. There is power in redemption for wood. And for me.