Box curly sycamore, spalted maple, ebony 14"x7"x2-3/4" sold

 The Coast of Begonia

Spalted maple. The first time I saw it was the #7 issue of Fine Woodworking. There's a remarkable article by Mark Lundquist, where he writes, in poetic terms, about this wood, its characteristics, its possibilities. There's even a scientific reference about how the spalt forms and why it looks that way. And a primer on harvesting and working it. Nice work.

Did this article start the flood? Spalted lumber is at a premium now and is used in all manner of fine craft products. It wasn't before. So maybe Mr. Lundquist's article was the catalyst for an appreciation of this unusual material.

Anyway, it was a revelation to me. I had never seen spalted wood; it was very strange. I thought it was beautiful. More than beautiful. Exotic. Alien. There's something so odd about the spalt figure. It's not like wood, more like stone, geological. If petrified wood doesn't look like this, it should.

This particular piece suggests, at least to me, a coastal map: a peninsula and an island. The coast of Begonia. For some reason, that's the phrase that kept running through my head. A map of the coast of Begonia.

But this little coastal map was in no way stable enough to sit by itself. Would definitely wind itself into a potato chip. So a frame was in order, mortise and tenoned together. I usually don't like mitred frames, but here it seemed to look better than the regular mortise and tenon.


The box and frame are curly sycamore, the little angular molding and the handle are ebony. The handle is not especially shaped (seemed superfluous on something like this) but is concave on the bottom so it feels nice to the touch, a quality most of the handles in the project do not share.