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Dear Liza Bowl

Mountain Ash
Handmade, one-of-a-kind
excellent display piece or jewelry bowl
finished w/ food-grade tung & citrus oil
made by Zach LaPerriere
Sitka, Alaska 2018
bowl measures 10" X 4"

Nothing says character quite like a natural knot hole in a wood bowl.  Of the dozens of bowls I've shaped with natural holes, I find this to be one of the most intriguing.

There is intriguing grain that bends light into a feeling of depth.  And a grain pattern that almost reminds me of an early Picasso face.

It's just an exquisite piece of wood.  I shaped the bowl to be broad and substantial in your hands.  You can see by looking at the growth rings that I followed the natural contour of the tree, which was more of a rectangular shape than perfectly round.

The hole is only in the middle of the knot—not the whole knot.  Because the hole was caused by rot, that tells me that the rot most likely occurred while the branch was still alive and actively growing.  That means the branch sustained a significant injury close to the main trunk that allowed both moisture and rot into the branch.

This tree stood alone, in front of a house, about ten feet from a grand driveway that begins with a brick and wrought iron fence.  So what caused that injury?  It could have been a kid with a hatched, or even a delivery truck delivering a 100 pound color tv in the 1980s.

The final thing to add about this bowl is why I am only now releasing this bowl two and half years after the tree died and was cut down.

The answer is that I didn't feel that I had the technical skills to cleanly cut the bowl where the hole is.  Sanding the inner radius of a bowl quickly destroys the crispness of open edges—so I knew I couldn't only do a minimal amount of sanding inside the bowl.

The answer came after I refined a new cutting technique.  One day I felt up for the challenge, and it really turned out great.  My expectations were met.  : )  I don't publicly share the cutting technique, because it's potential very dangerous.  If I were to teach the technique to beginners, I would advise them to have insurance and count their finger before and after turning. ; )

This will make a superb display or fruit bowl.  The warm color really pops against a light background.


Story: This tree died in front of a historic downtown Sitka home and was given to me by the granddaughter of the man who planted the tree.

At a recent market in Juneau a woman bought a bowl from this same tree.  We got to talking and after I learned she grew up in Sitka 60 years ago, I asked her name and soon realized that the man who planted the tree was her uncle.

I have sold almost every bowl from this tree, and to date turned several more mountain ash trees, and yet: I have never seen another mountain ash with this rich deep color.  I've spoken with people who use mountain ash in both Alaska and Europe, and they are similarly perplexed.


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