A bird nest with eggs made from the Big Oak tree.
This bowl has 65 pieces of Oak from the Big Oak Tree and 27 pieces of Black Walnut from a fallen tree in Orinda. The rim of the bowl and "Thunderbird" inlay are made from the Walnut. The Thunderbird design is a variation of the North American Indian symbol for "Bearer of unlimited happiness". The process for making this type of bowl requires a lot of planning and many hours of cutting and gluing, if you look closely at the Thunderbird you will notice that each change in shape requires several pieces of wood. The rim of the bowl uses Oak segments cut on a table saw and interlaced with thin strips of Walnut. I did not keep accurate records but I estimate that I spent about 100 hours to construct this piece. The finish is natural Watco oil, shellac and a final buffing with carnuba wax.
I chose to make a jewelry box for my wife in a heart shape from the Big Oak Tree. The doors of the box have two smaller hearts, one on each door. The small hearts of different size signify man and woman coming together to form a much larger heart that encompases their family.
The jewelry box is designed to be a wall hanging necklace box. Three small additional oak boards were used from a downed oak in Orinda in 2000.
The piece was started with a heart pattern and profile. Five three-piece segmented hearts, about ¾ inch thick, were cut on the band saw and glued together. The Big Oak Tree wood was used on the doors, bottom, first segmented heart, small hearts, and necklace pegs. Sides were sanded to shape with belt sander and by hand. The small hearts on the doors were cut from thick sea snail shell to give a pearl like appearance. They are set in a heart shaped oak border and glued to the doors. The piece is finished with two coats of tung oil.
The oak in my jewelry box features both heart wood and sap wood along with a dark natural blemish that appears on the front of the box. The wood's ray flecks, which are particularly pronounced in this oak, are evident as well.
The corner splines, the handle and the narrow trim strips on the top of the box are Cocobolo. The box bottom is birch plywood.
The box has mitered corners with splines that add strength and a simple design element. The box sides are beveled after the box is assembled and then the edges are eased to impart a round-sided appearance. The wood is oiled to enhance the grain and then waxed.
The box top is a relief carved sunburst representing perhaps 80,000 sunny days. Inlaid at the focus of the sunburst is the ubiquitous California native, the hummingbird. Apart from the Oak, other woods used come from around the globe (walnut, birch, cocobolo, and ebony); representing the geographic roots of many of the present population. The rolling hills of Contra Costa, home of the Miwok and Bolbones Indians when the tree was first created, are represented in the undulating shape of the cocobolo inlay on the lower sides of the box.
Due to the unpredictable nature of Valley Oak, I chose to make the box structure from Birch, a very stable wood, onto which the Oak was laminated. The top of the box was formed with an offset circular array of Oak segments. The segments were cut from strips into which a shallow cove had been cut. More Oak was laminated to the box sides, and then shaped. The concave shaping on the sides was rough cut in similar fashion to the coved strips which form the top. Smoothing and blending these surfaces into reflexed curves was achieved by scraping and sanding.
The ebony upper perimeter molding was shaped using a router, and the metal hardware is mostly solid brass. A padded tung oil/urethane finish on both external and internal surfaces preserves the natural color of all the woods used.
Kirby Elvin of "Kirby Kraft" is called a "Fire Wood Modificationist" by his friends. Many of his beautiful projects and turnings are made of domestic woods rescued from the wood pile combined with exotic hard woods to produce wonderful segmented vessels and boxes.
Kirby has been a lifetime woodworker. For the last several years he has devoted most of his time to lathe turning. He frequently demonstrates and teaches his turning skills at seminars. He is particularly fond of producing vases comprised of hundreds of pieces of wood glued together and then turned on the lathe to a final eye pleasing shape. Each of these pieces are unique and beautiful.
Hundreds of pieces of wood comprise this artistic segmented turned Acorn from the wood of the Big Oak Tree. What could be more appropriate than an acorn?
|Laura Lee Gillespie:
I have long been fond of the Arts & Crafts style and I felt that this would complement the old oak tree. On one of my visits to an Arts & Crafts show during the year I found three Motawi landscape tiles and then I knew that I could incorporate the tiles into my project, an Arts & Crafts frame.
The frame is put together with lap joints. I used a golden oak stain and finished with a polyurethane gel.
There were pieces of wood left after the frame was completed so I decided to build an easel on which to display the frame. This was also accomplished by using lap joints and finished the same as the frame. I wanted to give the Old Oak Tree a fitting tribute. The tree is gone but not forgotten.
I made a natural edged bowl from a branch "elbow." My intent was not conceptual, but was simply to discover and display the grain patterns of what was an unusually shaped piece of wood.
The process of turning the bowl was rather conventional. A rough turning blank was formed on my band saw. The turning blank was then mounted on my lathe between centers. The blank was rough turned and included a tenon which allowed the blank to be mounted on a scroll chuck. This allowed turning the inside of the bowl because the scroll chuck mounting allows one to remove the tail stock, thus removing the obstruction to the right end of the blank. I then turned the inside and outside of the bowl, but because of the complex grain pattern, the wood lacked strength in places. To combat this problem, I put a light coat of ca glue on the weak spots after I first coated the entire bowl with a water based clear acrylic. This is done to prevent dark spots from forming where the ca glue is applied. Several coats of Briwax were applied after sanding with 80, 120, 220, and 320 grit sandpaper.
My goal for this project was to memorialize the tree in a likeness of the tree itself. I used a photograph of the tree as a pattern and cut the design with my scroll saw. Since this piece is somewhat fragile, I decided to frame it under glass. This allows the piece to be viewed from different angles and let light filter through its branches. The frame is made from the same piece of wood. Dimensions are approximately 12 inches high by 17 inches wide.
This table was constructed of both Flat Sawn and Quarter Sawn Wood taken from a historic 284 year old Valley Oak Tree. Both the hard and soft woods from the tree were used to take advantage of the variations in color and texture of the wood. No effort was made to conceal any imperfections in the wood. Any filling that took place was to stablilize the wood and keep it from further damage.
The compound curve of the table top emulates the sweeping curve of the barn owl's wings as it swoops down from the Oak upon its prey. The same curve is carried out in the table skirts but with a concave arch.
The sturdy legs were kept simple in design, paying homage to the strength and durability of the Valley Oak. The slight taper and flat planes of the legs are broken only by a single flute on the outside edge of each leg. The skirts were mortised into the legs to give great strength to this substantial table.
The wood was left unstained as the natural color tones found in Valley Oak are a perfect match for those found in Barn Owls. Natural Danish Oil was applied to bring out the natural tones and to enhance the figure in the wood. Six coats of hand rubbed Polyurethane Varnish were applied to protect the wood when the table is in use.
The Barn Owl design was picked for the top as they frequently nest in the rotted out hollows of Oak Trees. The design was kiln fired onto the ceramic tile at about 1600 degrees. The tile was then grouted into the top frame and the grout sealed against moisture and stains.
I wanted the tool box to look like it was made a hundred years ago and I believe the shape, the joinery, and the finish accomplished this. The box is made entirely from the Big Oak. I milled the pieces on a planer and jointer to the desired thickness of ¾" although due to unevenness of the boards the thickness varied considerably, but added to the character of the box. Dovetail joinery was used to join the box sides and the bottom was glued to the base and hand carved pegs let into the base as additional support. The handle was made by laminating two pieces of oak and turned on a lathe. Oak wedges were let into the ends of the handle to hold it in place. After final sanding I applied a walnut stain and finished with two coats of tung oil. The dimensions of the tool box are 19 3/8" long, 9" wide and 8" high.
|Toni Lambert & Laura Lee Gillespie:
We made this Bird house from the scraps of Big Oak wood and bark that were left over from our other completed projects. There was no plan to work with. It took twelve pieces of wood just to create the front of the house. This is a good example of all the different looks of the wood from just one tree. The roof and yard are trimmed in slices of the bark. On each side of the house are feeders with mirror windows so the birds can see themselves and admire their images while they feed. A bell hangs on the front perch for the birds to play with. Even the shavings were precious so they are attached to the chimney to represent smoke. The year the project was completed is the house number. On the inside, below the bird house hole entrance, are steps made from the bark of the tree so that when a baby bird wants to leave it will be able to climb out of it's nest.
Plywood was used as a base for the roof and covered with individually cut shingles from left over scraps. The base of the floor is redwood covered with bricks cut from the bark. The house is covered with a waterproof sealer, and there are holes in the peak of the back wall for a little cross ventilation. The back of the house is meant to look like an old barn and bark is used around the house to represent bushes.
What could be more fitting for the Old Oak Tree than to continue to be a home for it's little friends?
I chose to make an Arts and Crafts style sconce inspired by a Greene and Greene pattern. For the glass panels I chose an amber colored stained glass with streaks reminding me of rain and sun with a silhouette of the Old Oak Tree. On the computer I created a silhouette from a photo of the tree. I took the liberty of drawing a trunk on the tree as it was obscured by the fence in the photo. From the silhouette I made a decal and applied it to the stained glass on the front of the lamp.
Making the lamp from the small boards was a real challenge. After milling the wood for this project the largest piece of wood was 24 inches long 4 inches wide and 5/8 inches thick. There are six pieces of wood glued together to create the backboard of the lamp. The sconce is mounted on a redwood frame for display purposes. When the light is turned on it gives the impression of the "Sun setting over the Old Oak Tree"
|TAKE A BREAK by Wayne Shipman:
I have worked with wood in one form or another my entire life. Wood is a material that I constantly strive to understand better each day. This Valley Oak wood is a particularly difficult wood to work with because of its tendency to warp and crack. Sometimes even pieces that appear intact from the outside will be honey combed with splits on the inside. Some of this wood has survived the drying process and some has not. Some of the wood that I cut at the site still has a 30 per cent moisture content after drying for nearly a year and will not be suitable for the projects I have chosen until it reaches 12% moisture content. I decided to make a stool, have a seat, and "Take A Break" while I pondered my options.
Time, past and present, has been the inspiration for all of the projects that I have created to date. The stool is a reproduction of one that was used in New England between 1780-1800. Stools like this are often called crickets or hearth stools. This one has excellent proportions. Its thick, dished top above well-turned bamboo legs, plus its H-stretcher arrangement and baluster, make it one of the better stools of its type.
All parts of this stool were turned on my wood lathe. The wood for this stool includes growth rings that grew between 1780 and 1800. I enjoy knowing that this tree provided years of pleasure to all that stood in its shadow. I especially enjoy knowing that this stool will be passed from generation to generation in my family and that it to has a story and a history of its own.
|MARKING TIME by Wayne Shipman:
Inspired by the concept of time, I have used this wood to create these baby rattles as gifts for my friends and family. My grandson was born less than two months after the Big Oak was removed. The last year of growth for the tree was the beginning of life for Thomas and wood from that part of the tree was used to make has baby rattle. The other baby rattles were made with wood that corresponds to the year of birth for that individual.
Each baby rattle is made from one solid piece of wood and hollowed at the ends to a 1/8-inch wall thickness. The ball at each end has three hematite beads inside to create noise. The captured rings have been carved in place while the wood was spinning on the lathe. The number of captured rings on each rattle is representative of the child's order of birth in the family. One ring each also represents the mother and father.
|FALLEN BUT NOT FORGOTTEN by Wayne Shipman:
This piece is an artistic statement that I have made to bridge the past to the present. It is also a functional, rectangular-edged bowl that will be used and enjoyed everyday. People are very often emotional about their trees and this tree was no exception. It was very important to me to create a piece that would convey to the viewer the memory of the fallen oak and the new life it has now.
This piece of wood was cut from the main trunk of the Big Oak with a chainsaw and then rough turned/shaped on a wood lathe to a one-inch thickness. The wood was then allowed to dry for one year and then returned to the lathe and turned to its final form.
As the design for this piece began to take its form, I thought about the history of Walnut Creek. The corners of this piece represent the Walnut Creek's previous name, "Four Corners". The arching component is an attempt to bridge the previous life of the tree with the present. The bowl is a symbol of the function provided by this tree and all trees. I feel that every piece of wood has a story to tell and I'll be happy to share this one with anyone who wants to listen.
|LIGHT A CANDLE by Wayne Shipman:
These candleholders were turned on a wood lathe while the wood was still green. This means that the wood continued to lose moisture, shrink, and distort after the turning process. This wood was purposely cut from the Big Oak in such a way that the candleholders would be oval and not round when the drying process was complete. The candleholders have been died with black leather dye and distressed to produce the effect of age. Twelve coats of varnish have been applied to produce the desired sheen.
I chose to make candleholders because my wife enjoys her candles and the moods she can create with them. Now, when she uses these candleholders, I'll have one more memory and one more story to tell our guests.
I'll always remember the "Big Oak Project" and the people it brought together. I will often "Light A Candle" for the Big Oak of Walnut Creek.
|HANDS OF TIME by Wayne Shipman in collaboration with Michael Casey:
My inspiration for the "Hands Of Time" is based on the 284 growth rings of the tree. I have made twelve letter openers using wood from the main trunk of the tree. Each letter opener required 24 years of growth to produce the wood for the process of turning on a wood lathe. I cut a slab containing wood from the pith to the bark and then split it into individual pieces. This contained wood that grew during the years 1717-2001. Significant events in the history of Walnut Creek, California, and The United States have been listed that correspond to the age of the wood used for each letter opener. A photograph of the tree was used to create an abstract print that is used as the background image for this presentation.