Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fun with wood

So, I spent a good chunk of a day last summer working on a carving that I hope will eventually become a new stand for the One Drum. Here's what it looked like last last winter when I had it stored in my woodshop:

It's 9-feet tall and just a tad shy of a foot in diameter at the base. My plan is to carve the top 7 feet, and have 2 feet underground to support it. Eventually, Sage and I hauled it out into the sunlight (which had FINALLY arrived to these parts) so I could start de-barking it and getting a sense of how I want to work with it. And it's a good thing I did, too, 'cause I discovered that some sort of grubs (buprestid beetles, probably) had established themselves pretty firmly under the bark; I suspect that if I had waited too much longer they would have really invaded the wood. (And, in fact, they might have; only time will tell.)

Anyway, like I said, I spent most of that day working the bark off of it with my favorite buck knife (which I found years ago when I was wandering around in the tundra north of the Brooks Range about 150 klicks south of Prudhoe Bay, but that's another story) and trimming flush a lot of the knots with my chain saw. I let myself get a truly wicked sunburn. Stupid, yes. Careless, yes. But ... it felt so good to actually be working on something for SpiritFire ahead of plan.

What's most on my mind in the long term, though, is what I'm actually going to carve. I have some ideas, and with luck I'll actually be able to pull it off. More as it develops, I promise.

And oh yeah, the wood came from an elm tree Joss and I had to have taken down more than a year ago. It was right on the corner of our house, and the trunk was splitting in a way that made it virtually certain it would topple into the house during a storm. So, we had a crew with a crane come in and take it down, with the request that they leave all the long pieces and cool-looking pieces intact. Check it out:

So with luck and a little bit of perseverence, we'll have a new One Drum stand, sustainably and locally harvested and hand-carved. And who knows what other cool stuff will come from the other pieces saved from the tree. Notice in the picture from the wood shop the other piece of wood in the background; that's from a part of the trunk where three major branches forked. Joss has some thoughts about carving it out and heading the branches to make a three-headed drum. Now that would be cool!


Anonymous said...

Aho Steve,

since this fine blog is so darn multimedia, how about a close-up photo of a bupestrid beetle grub?

One of my favorite things about Spiritfire is our wealth of ecological knowledge, and a deep appreciation of plants and animals that goes beyond the "charismatic megafauna".

Plus, it's a waning moon, a great time to celebrate the decomposers who magically turn corpses to fresh dirt and new beginnings.



Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see the drum stand.
I am however thinking of what it will take to move it and drop in the hole.....I guess I better get in better shape for SFF this year.

Much Love
Doug C.

Steve Trombulak said...

Elissa: I'll see what I can do about snapping a shot of them in the spring. I suspect that there are still a few of the little buggers rooting around in there.

As for the weight, I don't think that will actually be a problem. One of the reasons it will have taken two years (at least) to complete the project is that wood is VERY wet when fresh and needs time to dry. In fact, I let the pole dry too quickly (even over a two year period) and now have to deal with splitting along its length. But it was either that or have the beetle grubs destroy it. As heavy as it looks, though, I was actually able to carry it in my arms by myself from my workshop to its current location for winter storage. Once I finish carving it, it will have lost even more weight.

Having said that, it never hurts to get in shape for SFF. I can say with complete honesty that setting up and breaking down SFF is some of the most exhausting work I do all year 'cause it is NON-STOP!