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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dyed and Gone to the Heavens

  Never having been much of a fan of coloring wood, I was slow to experiment with applying colored dyes to my woodturnings. It seemed wrong somehow to add artificial color to a beautiful piece of wood. But I have to admit, reluctantly, that there are instances when the use of a transparent dye can really add punch to a piece.

  I've recently been quite pleased with the results of dyeing Boxelder burl, a light-colored wood that has plenty of interesting grain and birdseye figure, and generally needs no help to look great.

"The Bermuda Triangle"

But here's an 81/2-inch tall hollow vessel that took on an entirely new life as a result of being dyed with a teal green color... as soon as I saw the results, I felt as though I was looking down from space on the oceans of Earth. The dye (and finish) makes the burl figure "pop", causing the swirly grain lines to suggest the major current flows of the seas, and the jet stream clouds above them. Even the neck of the piece now reminds me of an ancient volcanic caldera atop a mountain rising from the sea.

I wanted to name the vessel... something related to the sea. While debating different names with my loved one, I noticed the shape of the bark inclusion on the upper surface... a triangle. And "Bermuda Triangle" instantly came to mind.

Dyed Boxelder Burl Hollow Vessel
 There are so many interesting little features that are intensified and highlighted by the dye... with the whole of the piece now representing an oceanscape, the grain patterns come to life as swirling currents of both cloud and water, and the birdseyes look like columns of plankton or jellyfish.

This was a striking and dramatic transformation of the character of this Boxelder burl, which now has real depth and attention-capturing qualities. I'm very pleased with  how "The Bermuda Triangle" looks, and look forward to more experimentation.      

This piece is available at www.bowlwood.com.

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