I have found myself lately captivated by logs in our woodpile. There is so much recorded in the growth rings, the peculiar places where a branch emerges from the trunk, the darker striations of bark like wisdom lines in a human face. The shapes and textures inform my ceramic work at deep levels beyond a conscious choice to illustrate. There is just a delight and fascination in picking up each log that emerges with no effort at all in the organic shapes of my trays or the combed facets on mugs and vases.
I decided to use a rustic wood plank as a styling board, and went to Asheville Hardware to look through their selection of slab wood and reclaimed lumber. The selection is intoxicating! From beautiful slabs of maple, poplar, oak and cedar to reclaimed barn doors, vintage flooring, and bins of scrap wood to rummage in. Half a day later I selected a slab that my husband has lovingly hand sanded. It is not yet stained nor oiled but I’ve already begun shooting pottery on it. Plus planning several future purchases!
If you are planning to use rustic wood planks as a table centerpiece or styling board, look through the thinner slices because wood is pretty heavy. You can use the pieces that aren't as prized for tabletops and shelving because irregular shapes, holes, and knots are visually interesting. Personally I love love love the bark left on. You can spend as little as $10 for an unsanded piece that is quite wonderful, or as much as $600 for a finished piece of the same size and quality so you can save a bucketful with a bit of DIY. Also, Asheville Hardware’s prices were 1/3 of what I found on Ebay, so definitely visit them if you are in Asheville. Or hunt down a similar store selling rustic planks and reclaimed lumber.
Here are my initial results:
I want to thank my husband, my most incomparable love, for his help. Besides sanding my rustic board, Ken is the gardener whose flowers give life to my vases. He also dropped my off at the opening weekend of Trader Joes where a parking place was nonexistent and the traffic was slightly insane so I could buy the little squash and other food staging necessities. He then parked blocks away. I think I owe him a nice home cooked meal after I get done using it for my food styling!