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Ancient Alder Solid Form

Red Alder
Handmade, one-of-a-kind
excellent display piece, fruit bowl, or other
finished w/ food-grade tung oil
made by Zach LaPerriere
Sitka, Alaska 2018
bowl measures 8" X 4"

“The clearest way into the Universe, is through a forest wilderness.” —John Muir

If you had the patience to sit for an entire human lifespan seventy feet up a tree in a remote wild Alaska forest, what do you suppose you might witness and see?

If this vessel could talk—it would tell you… Generations of brown bears fishing for salmon, deer sleeping below, ravens barreling through the forest, eagles perched up high…. Then there are the storms, the seasons—a lot happens in a hundred years!

I harvested this tree a mile up a wild river valley several years after it died of old age. It took three days for my family & I to sled out the pieces of two giant alder trees that were around 140 years old—considerably older than the official record of a 100 year old alder.

The opening in the vessel is a natural knot hole from a large branch, which must have grown for decades, then broke off and rotted away while the tree was still alive and healthy. It is exceptionally rare to see sound wood in alder right next to a branch that rotted away.

I purposefully left four distinct patches of natural live edge, which is the (outer) cambium layer right below the bark in a living tree.

The grain is figured and well developed in this vessel, both from supporting the branch and from decades of healing after the branch fell.

An excellent side story to this vessel is how I harvested the massive ancient trees, and then sledded out tons of wood down a frozen river and bear trails in Winter. You can find a video of this story by searching for my name online.

This vessel is designed for prominent display on the mantel or table. It invites being picked up, and is sure to be a conversation piece at social gatherings. Because it is crafted from a single piece of wood, it will last for generations with minimal care.

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Story: In February of 2017 I cut two massive standing-dead alder about a mile up a wild river valley about five miles from my home and shop.  The official oldest alder in the world is recorded in Washington at 100 years old.  The two alder I cut were at least 120 and 130 years old.  Alaska is full of secrets!

After cutting and prepping the bowl stock, my family and I took three days to sled out material in 2-3 feet of snow.  We followed frozen creeks and bear trails in a magical winter wonderland.  It was our best snow in seven years, and I'm still grateful everything worked out just right, from getting my USFS permit to the weather so graciously cooperating with our effort.

You can watch a video of our alder salvage effort here: