Exotic Wood Collection
California Buckeye is one of seven types of buckeye tree in North America. There are also related trees in Mexico, Asia, South America and India. Buckeye also grows extensively in Oregon. This wood has a special property. If it is stored wet in a closed container a type of fungi present in the wood turns the normally white wood into a variation of blue/grey and white. It is then dried and stabilized with pressurized resin to harden the wood and make it durable. Though the tree is fairly common, nice burl pieces are not easy to get in larger sizes. The reason is that this burl contains many rocks, dirt and bark pockets which must be cut around to get perfect pieces, making producing it quite labor intensive.
Amboyna burl is the world’s most sought after burl. It is loved all over the world and used for all kinds of precious items, such as an inlay in the interior of luxury cars and boats, or for small items like wood turning and boxes. Virtually all export of amboyna burl to the USA and other western countries stopped in 2010 as China cornered the market for this highly valuable wood. Much of the wood comes from Burma, with other countries such as Thailand, Laos and Vietnam producing some supplies, usually of lesser quallity. In Burma, Chinese trading companies have stationed local “agents” in every village near where the wood is found. These agents offer cash to anyone who brings the burl out of the forest . This way, all amboyna burl of good quality goes directly to China without ever being seen on the world market as it used to be. Amboyna can be a large burl, sometimes a circle of 6 feet around, or as small as just 8 inches. The best pieces have beautiful patterns of burl eyes as well as quilt and wave figure in colors of orange and red. Since China has completely cornered the amboyna burl market, almost all high quality pieces now seen for sale in the west were imported before 2010, and supplies are very limited in western countries.
Honduran Rosewood Burl
Honduras rosewood is one of the classic true rosewoods from Central America. The wood is a purplish brown with black streaks. Rarely burls form and have special figure and color in them. It is one of the rarest and most sought after burls in current trade, and it is monitored for sustainable export by international organizations. Special pieces bring in the highest prices of any burl normally on the world wood market. Burls have a natural “eye” figure which looks like round black circles from one angle and streaking lines from another angle, creating a special visual effect.
Pyinma (Pee-yin-muh) is southeast Asian tree. It looks similar to hard maple in color, but has figure that looks like rolling waves in many pieces. Figure seems to be quite common in this tree, producing the chatoyant (light catching) rolling waves that shimmer in light. It was practically unknown on the USA market until a Laotian family started importing small amounts about 10 years ago. When it first arrived in the USA, no one could determine the botanical name for years, until a native speaker from Laos was able to find this wood listed in a Laos foresty bulletin. It quickly became a favorite of woodturners and all kinds of artists because of the highly chatoyant figure. It has been known in southeast Asia for many years, and written about as far back as the 1800’s by British explorers. It has been used also for its strength to make interior moulding in homes as well as bridge and wharf building where it is considered a substitute for Teak.
Quilted sapele (suh-peel-ee) is from a very large tree growing mostly in Cameroon and The Congo. It is used to make ukuleles and guitars, as it is a very good tonewood producing good sound. A well known car maker has used veneers of this wood for interior décor. The Quilted figure occurs in select parts of some trees and looks like similar to patches of clouds in the sky and produces a 3-D effect that catches light. This light catching ability is called chatoyance and sapele is one of the best examples of such figure; moving it under light produces interesting changes in appearance. It is sometimes used as replacement for mahogany when a high figure is desired. The best figured pieces almost exclusively go to buyers in China where the wood is highly favored, and it is now uncommon on the North American market with almost all current supplies coming from imports over 10 years ago.
Thuya burl is a very rare burl coming from trees that lived long ago in Morocco. The trees have long ago disappeared from many places, but “burl hunters” look for a dip in the ground that might mean there was once a tree there, and roots could be buried below. They dig out the pits and sometimes find the roots and occasionally there is also an underground burl, from which this unique wood is derived. There are some living trees in sandy coastal areas that provide a small amount of burls also. The burls, which are almost never exported from Morocco due to export rules, look like large bronze/brown axe hacked blobs of wood, sometimes 4 feet long and 3 feet around but usually smaller. The export ban is designed to give local artisans a job by creating boxes and other articles for sale to tourists. Most supplies available outside Morocco were exported many years ago, and trade in North America is almost exclusively of wood that has been imported before 2008. Our Thuya burl came from a gun stock manufacturer in Eastern Europe that went out of business in the 1980’s. Though it is a very hard and oily wood, it comes from a conifer tree. The look is unique, waving patterns that are punctuated by black dots that look like black pepper scattered over the wood.
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