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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Twisted Affair



The latest in a continuing series of weedpot* vases fashioned from intertwining Bittersweet vines is "A Twisted Affair". The previous vases were turned on the lathe from spiraling pairs of vines (see earlier post, 12/2/2010). This one is similar, but has a third, smaller vine in the spiral, between the two main vines.

Bittersweet vines climb high into host trees, often choking off their light source so effectively that the tree eventually dies. If the tree gets toppled, the large vines come crashing to the ground with it. Also, many of the vines are cut near ground level by people concerned about the spread of the invasive Oriental Bittersweet vine, and its effect on our native trees. In either case, the event provides raw materials for these vases.
To be large enough to make a weedpot, the vines must be decades old, so are not easy to find in a suitable size. Turning them on the lathe presents a bit of a challenge too, because the vines grew in a spiral, tightly hugging each other, but not fused into one piece of wood. Each individual vine has its bark, and where two vines are pressed together, those layers of bark are sandwiched between them (you can see this as dark spiral lines in the neck of the vase in the photos).

 While turning such a spinning piece on the lathe, the individual vines tend to unwind in a dramatic "bang" when the turning tool gets a "catch" and digs in to the wood. It's unnerving, and potentially dangerous when that happens, so extra precautions must be taken to avoid it.

Turning exposes the wood of the vines, both the light colored sapwood, and the darker heartwood nearer the center of the vine. So now you can see every layer of the vine, from bark to heartwood.

"A Twisted Affair" is available at Timberturner.com


*Weedpot vases are intended to hold dry materials only, no water, although a plastic or glass tube could be placed in it to hold water for fresh flowers.

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