Tuesday, May 17, 2011

the Noble White Pine

Detail -- oil colour on white pine-- aprox. 10 x 36 in.

I have some old wood that I save for special occasions. There's some old-growth white pine that was cut originally for the timber frame barns of Ontario at a time when the select stock was being used for the top-masts of British warships. The deep golden colour of oxidization has penetrated the thickness of the timber in the century since it was cut. It was a pleasure using a hand plane to transform a rough sawn knee brace that I salvaged thirty years ago into an architectural detail. The plane producing long fragrant curls of translucent history.

In contrast, I was hanging a new "pine" door the other day and was dismayed to find, under a thin veneer of white pine, some knotty brittle pine that had grain like fir and was nearly impossible to work with even the sharpest hand tools.

A short piece of white pine "barn board" that had been propped against the studio wall took on a new significance. As I watched this particular pine board respond to linseed oil, turintine and damar varnish - the mediums for oil colour, the word "nobility" came to mind.

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