Posted on November 9, 2007
A couple years ago, I purchased a 'round-back' of Acacia Cedar from a local timber merchant. A round-back is the outside slice of the tree that gets cut off first in preparation to slabbing or cutting into boards. I've always loved Acacia Cedar ... otherwise known as Mackay Cedar or Red Siris ... because of the intense grain definition and extreme variation in colour forms. The wood also is frequently dramatically 'fiddlebacked'.
Acacia Cedar is a high-value timber in very short supply due to heavy cutting pressure in the past ... as is the case with most of our fine furniture timbers. I tend to acquire it whenever I can because it is just so spectacular, and when the opportunity comes along to get hold of stock which is normally burnt as a by-product, it's even better ... I don't mind so much that the merchant had the foresight to buy it from the sawmillers and pass it on, picking up a little for the trouble. It's generally not economically viable for me to hunt around the mills ... and, I really don't have the time ... and, especially, when most of the millers these days are mobile, moving their mills around the country-side following available work.
This round-back was large enough to take two large bowls out of and several smaller bits. I already created and sold a large salad platter (functional) a couple years ago ... and this is the final piece to come from this stock. I shaped it 2 years ago, at which time it was quite a bit larger in overall shape and had a large base. Since then, my abilities have sharpened up and also my preference has shifted to much finer forms and smaller bases. Luckily, I generally leave enough scope at the rough shape stage to modify the final shape quite a bit.
The thing I really like about this piece is the generous organic flowing shape of the profiles. I'm not too fussed about the top shape, which was pretty much influenced by the pattern of heart wood and the blonde sap wood.
Acacia Cedar is very textural ... being fairly open-grained in the sap wood while moderately tight grained in the heart wood. The finish process that I'm doing these days tends to really bring out the textural qualities of timber like Acacia Cedar ... so, not only is there a really good looking glossy 'show' finish, but it 'looks' really touchy-feely as well.