While wood beads are fun and easy to turn, I spend much of my time turning other things. With the class I took at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts this past July, I have become competent and confident in turning bowls. And my real goal was to become efficient in turning platters. I just love how the edges of platters show off the wood!
The highlight of my weeklong bowl turning class at Arrowmont was turning a series of green ambrosia maple platters.
There are actually four platters in the series, but at the time of the photo I had only turned three. You can see that they are all from the same tree with the placement of the ambrosia markings across the three platters.
Ambrosia maple is so named because of the ambrosia beetle who infests the tree and ultimately kills it leaving the grey brown striations you see. You can see the holes from the beetle in an early post on the bead embroidered ambrosia maple cabochon.
The first step in creating the platters was to remove the bark. Beneath the bark were a lot of insects (perhaps versions of the ambrosia beetle itself) that flew from and crawled out over as I removed their cover. A few worms scuttled out and I preferred to discover these by prying off the bark rather than have the little white bodies fly out at me when I turned the wood.
Below, you can see I have fitted a turned platter into the slot where it was cut from the bark. It looks much better after it’s been turned, doesn’t it!
An important part of seeing the bark is knowing that one day it will be turned into 20-25 big ambrosia maple wood beads. Of course, the pieces will take some time to dry.
Turning green wood can be delightful. Water sprays your face mask (really this wood was wet!) and your hand holding the bowl gouge. This is cooler than having the hot shavings created by turning kiln-dried wood. With the wet wood, shavings fly everywhere and I really must learn to direct them more onto the observers than myself.
Although it looks like the bowls and platters are finished here, remember they were green when turned. Those ambrosia platters will take about 3 months to dry. They may warp. But I will turn them again in 3 months to round and smooth out any rough edges.
- Common Bark Characteristics of the Sweet Gum Tree (forestry.answers.com)
- A Decor Setup Inspired By The Woods (freepeople.com)