Carving Contrasts

I like to think I can carve the odd decent spoon, bowl or cup from time to time but I know my skill level is only fair to middling as I do not spend enough time practising the art, but I do have a number of good friends who are absolute expert carvers and from whom I can get inspiration.

Mark Beer is one of them. He is an excellent all-round woodsman and carver and on a recent visit to his place I was quite taken aback by his latest creations. As usual I insisted on taking loads of pictures of his work and when he explained the fluorescent properties of Robinia (False Accacia) wood the photographer in me became quite excited.

The cup on the left is carved from Robinia and the other two are from mulberry.

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Robinia and mulberry make for beautiful carvings

The cups were carved from burls found on the trees so you can see lots of swirls in the wood. The robinia under normal light is a light cream colour that contrasts well with the darker parts caused by the haphazard growth of the burl.

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Robinia under natural light

Under an ultraviolet light (I made an impromptu studio in his closet) the wood is transformed into a magical range of colours. I was as usual only taking pictures with my phone but I think you can really see the green, yellow and purple coming through.

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Robinia under infrared light

And up very close – quite psychedelic really.

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Robinia up close

The smallest of the cups was made from Mulberry. I find carving small cups quite difficult as you need to carve deep but have so much less wood to hold while carving. This small cup is simple in its design but because of the growth of the burl is rather beautiful with shades of light and dark.

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Mini Mulberry

The third cup also made out of mulberry has a larger bowl with a pointed tip. The inside of the bowl was finished using his knife only with very fine cuts to make it smooth but the outside still had the tool marks clearly showing. These tool marks blended in well with the swirls of the burl.

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All angles and curves

In terms of function these cups perform the exact same job but in terms of form each is a unique piece of beautiful art.

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Contrasts

Mark had also purchased pipestone (catlinite) to make a Traditional Ceremonial Elbow Pipe and carved and shaped the bowl himself. The pipestone is only allowed to be quarried by members of recognised Native American Tribes. The wood Mark used for the stem was cherry.

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A pipestone elbow pipe with a carved cherry stem

The man himself.

Mark the Carver
Mark the Carver

Thanks for letting me look at your latest work Mark, and allowing me to photograph these beautiful pieces.

Cheers

George

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