turned cherry wood bowl

Lilac Pin

This pin is larger than the pins used with the clasps. You simply weave the pin in and out through two layers of the knitted fabric to make it secure. It works great as a hairpin too.

It seems like all my wood has a story. I made a wonderful friend in Etna, New Hampshire when visiting my daughter and her family a couple of years ago. He lives just up the road from my daughter and she sent me a write up of him in the local paper.

Dustin Coates is a wood turner extraordinaire. He decided in high school that he wanted to be a professional turner and has been one ever since. His shop is a treasure trove of local woods with a heavy emphasis on burls, and Dustin turns a lot of burl bowls that are absolutely beautiful.

I arrived at his shop unannounced one day and he spent the whole afternoon with me showing me his work and teaching me some new techniques. As I left, he gave me a lovely chunk of butternut crotch wood that was so large that it took two of us to put it in my trunk and it filled the entire trunk.

On my second visit I did something I rarely do. I purchased some wood from him. It was burl wood which I had not been accustomed to working, and I thought it was rare where I live.

When I told Dustin that this was the first wood I had purchased since 1979 (I have a chain saw and large band saw and forage for my own wood) he winced and said he was sorry.

To make up for it he gave me some of his scraps. These were corners of burl cut off to make round blanks for turning. I thanked him for his generosity and, as I was leaving, he held up a small crooked gray stick and asked if I wanted this. I asked what it was and he brought me out a piece which had been cut to expose the grain. The wood was deeply streaked with reddish purple striations and was beautiful to behold.

He told me it was lilac. "You mean lilac, as in the flower, lilac?", I asked. He said yes. I thought it would make some nice pins and thanked him and took all he had.

When I got home from that trip I noticed several things.

First, there are burls all over the trees here in Baltimore County where I am now living. It seems that chance favors the prepared mind.

Secondly, I noted that the lilacs in my landlord's hedge have some stems large enough to work. I had just never observed how large they can get.

Thirdly, when I cut and turned the lilac I discovered that it is aromatic. When the wood gets hot from sanding you can smell a delightful fragrance. It is a bit different form the lilac bloom itself but you can tell the two smells are related.

So there is always more to learn. Having a teacher is always a big help.