In the process of carving my dough bowl and trencher bowls I end up with lots of little pieces of wood lying around. Most of the wood gets pulverized into shavings that get sucked into my dust collector or gather on the floor, bench, shelf, you know, any available horizontal surface. Some of the pieces though are larger and I always felt I should do something with them rather than throw them out. I thought about doing parquet with a scroll saw and some clamps, or gluing blocks together to form larger carving blocks for bowls. I even considered buying a small lathe to make pen blanks and maybe even a few pens. The expense on this project though was prohibitive.
No I needed to something out of the scrap pieces that
I could do with the tools I already had and was true to the goals and beliefs of my wood shop. That is to produce as natural and simple a product as possible that relied on the natural beauty of the wood rather than chemicals, dyes, glues, and the use of jigs in carving. In my humble opinion once a jig enters the fray the piece is no longer the product of carving but something else. I'm not saying relying on a jig is a bad thing it's just not what I wanted to do. Any thing I made from these pieces had to reflect the natural aspect of the wood, all that beauty should be displayed in an item that reflect the natural world from where it came. This was my challenge.
One night after a hard days carving and running after my twin boys to prevent the inevitable I was lying in bed pondering the Universe or some other unfathomable thing when an image hit me. River Rocks, carved out of wood. Simple, clean, natural. The shape can be manipulated to accentuate the natural beauty and texture of the wood. They can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes so no two will ever be alike. They can also be carved with the tools I have with no new tools to buy or learn to use. Eureka! I have my new product line...but wait a minute. Who wants to by a wooden river rock and what would they do with it?
Well I was going to worry about that question later right now my task was to create a couple of them as prototypes and see if it could be done and what they looked like. The first one I carved was the persimmon one shown below. It came out just as I envisioned it, smooth, natural, and carveable. It was however a pretty but not very heavy paperweight. I was losing hope in the viability of my project and offhandedly showed it to my wife Julie. Distracted for a short time I came back to find my wife playing with a votive glass and my river rock. Well she did it again folks! Hence the River Rock Votive Holder Series came into being.
I did in the end have to by a drill press and a Forstner bit to drill the holes. Finding a drill press that can drill a 2" Forstner at a reasonable price is a whole other blog post. Especially when you consider the five I returned for being virtually useless. So now folks I hope this explains some of the story and thoughts behind this line of wood products. They are a great joy to make and photograph. The new price point has allowed me to offer products to a much broader range of potential customers and this has been very good for my small wood shop. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy carving...or what ever it is you do.