Perhaps fifteen or more years ago, before I was pursuing woodcarving, a large tree fell on top of a line of cedar trees meant to be a privacy screen. Hoping to relieve the cedar, I cut away the fallen tree and tossed the logs in a damp area of the woods. I thought the moisture might help break down the wood sooner. Fast forward to last fall, and I saw the wet logs... and realized what it was. Butternut! (example of another butternut carving: www.deviantart.com/nightserpen…
) It's a beautiful wood to carve, it has a lovely grain, but it seems harder to come by as time goes on. I've searched my area and haven't found any other butternut trees around since. I pulled out anything which seemed salvageable, which was not a lot. Most of it was like oatmeal, but there were a few pieces which seemed like they had a chance of being saved. I split them in half, removed the pith (center of growth rings), painted the ends and hoped for the best. There are some good suggestions out there for how to dry wood for carving, but when it's been soaking in water for years... who knows what will happen.
Fast forward to this summer, I had an itch to carve but no plan in mind. I took the least promising piece of the butternut which was starting to separate along the rings and poured a little glue into the cracks in hopes that it would stay together enough to carve. I had no expectations, I thought I might just have some fun making wood chips and not feeling to precocious about it. Aside from the cracks, it turned out to be one of the nicest pieces I've carved so far! The water seems to have created a great variety in coloration and pattern. Maybe it is some sort of spalting, or perhaps it had absorbed some minerals while soaking in the muck. Whatever the case, it is an extremely agreeable piece of wood, it hardly seems to care which way I direct the tools, it still produces clean polished cuts.
My carving is inspired by the popular "spangenhelm" supposedly worn by the vikings. The story which manifested as I carved revealed to me that this may be a ghost of a viking, some sort of spectral fire is emulating wings on the helm. The wood is roughly 18", I hope to return to it in a couple of weeks. I'm curious what carving the "good" pieces will be like if this is one is "junk". :lol