Artist: Ron Barnes
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Ron Barnes is the creator of sculpted furniture artistically fashioned out of rare, figured wood. Each piece is unique, with cross sections of the trunk sitting atop the burlwood. The Buckeye Burl pieces actually come from the rootball (found underground) of a Chestnut tree. The rootball is sliced into slabs, sand blasted, and then kiln dried. The tables, varying in size and shape as are the trees they are created from, are embellished individually with inlays of some of the following materials: turquoise, abalone, blue lapis, sugelite, coral, crushed corncob, crushed walnut shell, ammonites, shark’s tooth, limb cast, dichloric glass, and myrtle wood.
Many factors cause the figured effects in wood. Weather, insects, and fungi all contribute to the varied shape and coloration. The process for a tree to develop the burl is similar to an oyster growing a pearl. A pearl begins as a grain of sand which annoys the oyster into coating it with a smooth substance called nacre. In the same manner, the formation of the burl begins as an irritation to the tree.
Because the burl pieces are found underground, steps need to be taken to free the wood of it past tenants. There are a lot of beetles in the “powder post beetle family”, so there are different habits involved. Generally they only infest dead wood not living wood. They live off the starch of the wood. After the eggs are laid, they hatch fairly quickly and start eating. The wood must be between 6 and 30 percent in moisture content for this to occur. The wood tenants are both harmful to the wood and create exotic designs that Ron emphasizes in his finishing process.
Obviously no one wants uninvited guests in their wood furniture, so Ron completely sterilizes the wood. “Kiln drying” the wood above 155 degrees for 1½-2 hours guarantees there will be no infestations, but Ron takes that process much further as he runs the kiln from 170-200 degrees for 1-2 weeks or until the moisture content is 5-8%. This extended process also enables the colours in the wood to become more distinct when finished.
Ron’s unique usage of inlays within the depressions of the table tops is unparalleled. His pieces are created with a discriminating eye for beauty, enhancing the creation nature has made.