Woodturning is a lot of fun, but I didn’t know that until I wanted to learn how to turn my wood Native American style flutes. Fortunately, a benchtop lathe went on sale and I made my purchase — never having turned anything before.
A year later with some solid training, I turn my flutes, bracelets, vases, bowls and the latest fascination — unique wooden beads.
Working with several different woods (mahogany, spalted maple, ambrosia maple, western cedar, eastern cedar, cherry, redwood, dogwood, and sycamore) for the flutes leaves me with great small pieces of wood to turn into unique wooden beads. They are unique in shape, size, texture and appearance.
Most of the wooden beads I see for sale are white and can be painted, but they don’t often celebrate and show the beauty of the wood in its original form.
When I made flutes from branches of trees, I became a real collector of branches and trunks of trees. There’s been many a cycling adventure I’ve started out on only to pedal back home, get the car so I could load up the trunk with wood from a neighbor who was cutting a tree. Right now there’s a portion of the backyard dedicated to letting the sycamore, dogwood, redbud and crêpe myrtle tree trunks and branches dry before I bring them in to be turned.
Sometimes it’s as bizarre as having a wet and rotten limb fall from a backyard tree during a storm. The first time I brought a freshly fallen limb in from the backyard and began turning to see what I might turn out , small insects, tiny worms and a lot of water sprayed off the oak. Of course, I wear protective gear but it was hard to ignore the small little worms slithering down my face mask.
The rotten oak and its spalting were beautiful. Spalting is the woodturner’s word for color and streaking in the wood created by fungi. The experience, a first, sits on the fireplace mantel now — a beautiful small bowl and two unique mushrooms from the fallen limb.
This is upcycling, isn’t it? Taking what someone might have thrown out and repurposing for a new function.
From battered limb to unique bead, I invite you to join me on my journey to create unique wooden beads which in turn (ah, the pun) give birth to some beautiful jewelry.