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Intricate Patterns Bowl

Red Alder—Spalted
Handmade, one-of-a-kind
excellent display piece or light use bowl
finished w/ food-grade tung& citrus oil
made by Zach LaPerriere
Sitka, Alaska 2018
bowl measures 8 1/2" wide X 3 1/2" deep

Truth is stranger than fiction, right?  This bowls shows the intersection of several different forces: a tree's growth, a storm that washed the tree down a river, me cutting the tree, and various fungal species painting these crazy colors.

It is a snapshot in time.  Had I not turned the bowl and dried the wood, by now the tree rounds would be so soft you could push your finger into them.  But once the wood dries, the fungus is no longer active and this bowl is ready to last for generations. 

Because there are so many different intersecting forces, I see this bowl as a collaboration of different elements of the forest—and of course, a collaboration with me.

Across the art collecting world, spalted wood art has become VERY expensive.  But I aim to keep these spalted bowls as affordable as I can, while also compensating me for my time.  These bowls take longer because the wood is more fragile when cutting.

This bowl will serve admirably as a display piece to spark conversation, or equally well as a smaller to medium fruit bowl.  Or maybe a knitter will combine bright balls of yarn with the natural colors of a forest-created bowl.  The choice is yours!

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Story: In the Fall of 2016 a monsoon dumped many inches of rain on Sitka in a period of a few hours.  In addition to numerous landslides, local rivers flooded and a number of mature red alder trees were washed down rivers.

I suspect this alder came from Kaasda Heen, also know as Indian River, that cuts through Sitka National Historical Park—known locally as Totem Park.  If you know this river, it's impressive to think about an 80 foot tall tree washing down over the rocks and sandbars.

A few days after the big rain another storm and high tide rolled through Sitka and I looked out to see this tree floating by my house, complete with branches and a rootward still holding rocks and bushes.

It took me a couple hours to tow and wrestle the log to the beach in our family's skiff.  Once tied up to the beach, with the tide out I cut the log into rounds and left a number of these round on the beach just above the winter high tide storm line.  After sitting for six months, the green wood had turned into what you see here.

These spalting lines are fascinating: it's almost like a battle of the fungus.  The black lines you see are transition zones, almost like a fence, that competing fungal species put up when they run into another species.

Rounds that I removed earlier were less spalted, and some that I left longer ended up to soft for bowls—but still fine for the woodshed.

To say that no two pieces of spalted wood are alike is...well...a serious understatement!