By Irina Jordan
The process begins with acquiring logs from local tree services. Walnut, ash or maple are used for the urns. Using a chainsaw and bandsaw the logs are cut down to fit on the lathe.
Turned very slowly at first due to the wood being unbalanced, the bark is cut away to get into the outer sapwood. Cutting in further exposes the darker heartwood. Defects or pretty grain can sometimes determine the final shape of the urn.
The hollowing is accomplished by using a hollowing rig with various shaped boring bars. The piece is supported with a homemade steady rest made from plywood and rollerblade wheels. Calipers are used to establish the wall thickness. Once hollowed, the final exterior sanding is done as well as fitting of the threaded insert.
The vessel is slowly dried for a couple weeks inside a brown paper grocery bag. This helps limit cracks. Certain woods will move and distort more than others during the drying process.
The urns are finished with shellac as a sealer and lacquer as a top coat. Any surface embellishments are done at this stage (copper leaf application, pyrography, etc.).
The lids are made from stable dried wood so the threaded inserts will fit well. Finials are made as a separate piece and attached to the lid later.
Each urn is signed, dated and labeled with the wood species on the bottom.