Spalting is a process by which a fungus begins decomposing a fallen tree. Around here the most common spalted wood is maple and the patterns and colors produced by the spalting are very varied and amazing.
The trick is to catch the spalting when the wood has interesting figure, but before it's gone too soft and "punky". Kiln drying kills the fungus and halts the decomposition. Even so the spalted wood I've worked with has been a bit on the soft side. The maple in this box was more like pine than maple.
This is one of my more conventional pieces made before I got into curves and sculpting boxes. The top is actually the second one I made after I became dissatisfied with the look of the original. The top is a frame and panel construction with the panel made out of Bolivian rosewood.
It was in making the original top that I developed a serious allergic reaction to the rosewood. It was no fun and so now I restrict my use of such woods to small pieces like handles and inlays. The handle on this top is made from Brazillian rosewood, which is nearly extinct today and very scarce. I was helping my father move his shop when I came across a few small pieces that he acquired nearly 40 years ago. I use this wood very sparingly and save even the smallest potentially usable scraps. I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to this type of rosewood as well as cocobolo and treat them very, very carefully. It's the fine dust that gets to me, shavings, chips, and the solid wood are no problem.
This shot gives a little better (but still not very good, alas) idea of the color and grain of the rosewood. The dimensions of the box are roughly 7" high by 11" long by 9" wide.
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