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Turned Spalted Yellow Birch Burl Bowl by Mark Lindquist,1987 Collection: The Art Institute of Chicago - Gift of Jane and Arthur Mason Photo: Paul Avis © Mark Lindquist 1987 -All Rights Reserved

Turned Spalted Yellow Birch Burl Bowl by Mark Lindquist,1987 Collection: The Art Institute of Chicago – Gift of Jane and Arthur Mason Photo: Paul Avis © Mark Lindquist 1987 -All Rights Reserved

Spalted Wood

By Alan Lacer

When wood is captured somewhere between the extremes
of being completely sound and fully rotten, it can display
magnificent beauty. The discoloration, prominent
black lines and changes in texture that occur
during the decaying process are known to
woodworkers as spalting.Spalting is a by-product of the rotting
process that is carried out by a vast
army of stain, mold and decay fungi.
They are abundantly present in the air
and soil, waiting for favorable conditions
and a suitable host. Generally, wood moisture
content of at least 25 percent, temperatures from about 40-
to 90-degrees F, air and food (especially abundant in sap wood)
are what the fungi need. A tree or branch freshly fallen onto a
damp forest floor in warm weather is asking for it.Lighter colored woods offer the best canvas for nature’s
graphic work. Hard maple is viewed as the king of spalted
woods, although sycamore, persimmon, red and white oak, elm,
pecan, birch, buckeye, apple, magnolia, beech, holly, hackberry,
box elder and the sapwoods of walnut and cocobolo are favored
by woodworkers as well.

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