A friend has recently given me some lengths of cherry wood. The tree has been cut down to open up an area of her garden, and a second will also be subject to the tree-surgeon’s chainsaw. I’m fascinated by the changes that the wood is undergoing when cut. The logs have been “bleeding” while sitting against my workshop wall, exuding a jelly-like sap from the cambium. The sapwood cuts white and then oxidises to a livid orange colour.
I’ve posted some photos of a bowl that I’ve carved in the cherry, on my Gallery page. You can glimpse the oxidised interior, which I’ve yet to finish. As I took the photos shortly after finishing the exterior, the sapwood on the outside is still quite pale. It’s really interesting to think about these simple, but striking, transformations in raw materials. Although there are some dramatic transformations evidenced in the archaeological record – from hide to leather, from ore to metal, from clay to pottery – some changes are just as striking and mysterious even though they are simple. I wonder what people in the past thought about the colours, textures, and smells of wood?