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Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
we want YOU to think...if you dare...


Friday, February 3, 2012

Craft Treasures: Diamond Willow

The Age of Light is upon Us
IN times past, everything was made by hand.
Folk art and hand-crafted items were high-quality then, and in many cases,  over time, became incredibly valuable treasures and keepsakes.  The fact is, you can make your own --and pass them to YOUR grandchildren too!
In the world of hand crafting,  it is always tremendously  exciting to find materials that are different, something  natural and usable  that is a just a bit out of the ordinary. It is  more exciting to find those fascinating materials close at hand and even better if they are free for the taking.  Always make sure you ask permission to remove specimens from private property.  
Handmade wooden crafts can be turned into unique treasures with exotic materials, but how many of us have Mahogany, Tigerwood, Purple Heartwood, a piece of bird's-eye Maple, or  even a nicely-dried  burl from a Jackpine tree?  
Perhaps one of the fanciest materials available in northern climates  is as close at hand as the nearest river-bottom or the edge of an old farm field.
Willow.  Specifically, Diamond willow.    Here's a photo of a diamond willow clump still standing out in the back 40 on my walking  trail. Looks pretty drab, doesn't it?

Diamond Willow
 Diamond willow grows in typical clumps of a  perhaps a half-dozen or more  trunks sprouting from the same root system.   At Incoming Bytes we're always concerned about the environment, but there are no "green" worries here.  It's fast-growing. If you needed enough material to cut the whole clump down, it will grow back quite rapidly--within  a few years .  Nothing strange about that, it's willow, and it's tough. Willow likes wet land, so that's a good place to look.
What is interesting and strange though,  is the erratic, unusual pattern that develops in the  wood of the individual trunks of diamond willow trees as they mature.   
Here's a picture of an older,  more mature trunk with a highly advanced pattern.
These select pieces of diamond willow are unique diamonds in the rough. No two pieces are exactly the same.

Older Diamond Willow with Unique,  Characteristics

Notice that the specific patterns in the diamond willow advance and develop substantially with age.  
Is that surprising, since everything changes as it ages?   
What is so special about Diamond willow?  Every piece is absolutely unique  and beautiful.

Diamond Willow being Peeled

Check out this new piece .  It is in the process being very carefully peeled and cleaned off by careful scraping and sanding.  Much care is taken not to remove the patterned darker wood --which contrasts nicely with the light, cream-coloured wood. As these diamonds -in-the-rough are cleaned, their natural beauty emerges.

 Diamond willow can be used for any craft purpose, decorative applications , handles, or other objects.  Younger saplings and pieces are strong and can be used for walking sticks, canes or similar purposes. 
Check out the beautiful natural shapes shown in the wood of this walking stick and cane.  They are not carved.  
They are both almost ready  to be varnished with Varathane or spar varnish.  Rubber 'tips' will be added to prevent damage to the contact surface.  The cane handle split is natural growth. 

Diamond Willow Cane  and Walking Stick   (c) rakukkee2012

There you go, crafts-people!  Isn't diamond willow beautiful?   While we're at it, here's a picture of an old lamp made with diamond willow many years ago, but now sporting a  modern, compact fluorescent light bulb.

The natural holes in this natural  piece of diamond willow lamp go all the way through the body.  This piece is unusual in that  in the top cavity,  there exists another small, wavy,  almost independent trunk growing inside of the main trunk body.

At Incoming Bytes I enjoy natural beauty and encourage everyone to use it judiciously and carefully in handmade projects.  Wait 'til my gardening zeitgeist -crafting Princess Glory Lennon sees this !
More natural beauty is on the way.  Is it spring yet?

Is that Incoming I hear?


  1. Diamond willow IS beautiful. So is this Incoming! See I do learn here! Well done Raymond.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Christyb! You have some very beautiful willow out in B.C. as well! It's all good! ":) ~R

  2. Beautiful! I've been meaning to use something like this to make a handicraft tree with a bark/stem like this, and with satin / organza leaves with fine wire.... someday. someday. I've got it all planned out for a long time now. At one time I made ten maple trees with barks of trees like this about 1 1/2 feet tall... and with orange/yellow leaves (depicting autumn) ... and with wire, for an exhibition and I got the first place for that. I helped my friend make ten mango trees (summer) and she got the second place. :) Trouble is - while they were carting it back to me, the whole thing got ruined. It was like 7 years ago maybe.

    This Diamond willow brought back memories... and the desire to want to complete some unfinished project (dream). I've always wanted to sell something of this sort - that I've made. Some day I will..... ;)

    1. Thanks for visiting, Mandy! I am somewhat the same, I have a number of unfinished, old projects that really should be re-visited and completed too! We do not forget the desire to create-so you can start any time, use what you do have, just look at things with a different eye --you'll see ! I think you WILL be making stuff like this some day! ":) ~R

    2. I love your encouragement, and "look at things with a different eye". I guess attitude and a different outlook makes a big difference in getting started. For me, sometimes it's because I am already on other projects, doing something or the other, that I tend to put off things that I would 'also' like to do - like this one. There are days when I feel as though 24 hours isn't enough, especially when I am engrossed in perhaps dressmaking or the waste-cloth rug-making. Seeing how Glory makes her quilts from remaining material, I've also started making a quilt from balances of my sewing projects. They do not look very impressive yet, but those who do see it say its quite pretty. I guess I'll have to see the fished product before being satisfied / unsatisfied with what's made.

    3. *** hehe - I wrote 'fished' for 'finished'...

    4. hi Mandy, sometimes all it takes is just the smallest bit of encouragement to make amazing things! It's easy to put projects off with distractions, but it also pays to be persistent and go back to them too. Those handmade rugs and quilts turn out beautiful, so don't give up on them. Always remember, as a craftsperson, we may not see our projects as perfect - we see the minor defects. Others see the overall beauty! Thanks for visiting again! ~R

  3. LOL, Thanks for the mention. I've never heard of these diamond willows and I thought I'd seen them all! It's gorgeous, especially when used to make items for around the home. Such beautiful wood needs to be in a place of honour to be admired by all. You've done well.

    1. Aha! Our crafting gardening Princess! You're always welcome at Incoming Bytes, and thanks for commenting! These are beautiful aren't they? Anything made from this unique wood does command special attention. A walking-stick 5' high like this or almost any object made from this material is pretty much guaranteed to be unique, --never to be duplicated. You should have diamond willow in your area, I believe! Thanks for visiting, Glory! ~R

  4. All things made with wood turn out beautifully and last a lifetime. You reminded all of us that fine woodworking is indeed another divine skill with great pleasure.

    1. Hi Olivia! That is probably one of the most important facets of this subject matter. I probably should have stressed it more. Items made of wood have amazing longevity --whether utilitarian or just objects of beauty and decoration --they can last centuries. Thank you for visiting! ~R

  5. the lamp looked like one i had.. which i thought was made of cedar as it was hard and striated and -beautiful. those canes are fine..what a surprising wood..and workmanship.

  6. Thanks for commenting, Nadine, wooden objects, even very old- can be absolutely beautiful if the wood has been carefully peeled and sanded just a bit. Virtually no carving is involved on the diamond willow except to trim ends, to add fittings or tips. Cedar selected pieces can also be very beautiful. You must have some around that area...":))

  7. I just love old pieces of wood anything natural.. and have many hand turned pieces of wooden bowls etc and calving which I have purchased from craft stalls around and about..
    My Dad many years ago made a walking stick from some Hazel wood and as he too loved to walk out in Nature he came across the skull of a Ram, and used the horn of it as the handle.. Some may think Ugh! not pleasent.. But it looks a very smart walking stick.. He used it for many years while out walking and passed it down to me...

    These Diamond Willow I have never seen before, and so I was very interested in reading about them and the items they made..
    Thank you Raymond for sharing this post..
    I have got some nice pieces of drift wood within my Aquarium of tropical Fish.. that now seasoned are supporting plant life..
    The Cycle of life is never over even when one thinks of something as 'Dead' like those pieces of wood..
    Wishing you a very good day and many thanks for commenting upon my own WP posts.. Love reading your wise comments also on VK site.. :-)
    ~Peace Sue Dreamwalker

  8. hello are you firmilar w Roy Baldwin from the Soldotna Seward area also enjoys hunting diamond willow and thought he had a shop in Seward. He is my x brother in law..Wondering if he is still in business. Thanks Kelly from Perry, Iowa Kel5lyn@aol.com


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