Tree stems sometimes produce swellings that have a more or less smooth covering of bark. Such swellings are called ‘Echte Kropfe’ (True Swellings) in German, to distinguish them from burls (‘Maserkropfe’). They occur on Beech, Birch, and Horse Chestnut, where they can reach a huge size. However these swellings are a growth from the parent stem and cannot be removed without damaging the tree, usually by sawing and that's not what I am advocating here.
In some swellings a ball of wood forms within the bark isolated from the wood of the parent stem, so that the entire growth or swelling can be easily detached. These are called ‘Sphaeroblasts’. I tend to find them locally on beech trees.
They develop from individual buds in which growth is aborted by the tree, the woody part eventually becomes isolated from the main stem and sits within the bark, in time if left in situ they rot away.
I have seen these sphaeroblasts up to 4 inches in diameter though in general they are much smaller. they look like pimples or nodules in the bark, the removal of the sphaeroblast from the tree is very easy and in no way damages the parent stem and leaves a small indentation in the bark causing the tree no discomfort or damage.
They can be converted in to small carvings or wooden beads the bark is easily removed if needed and the grain pattern when left unsanded is stringy and quite interesting. I get mine from some of my favourite places and have been collecting them to carve and turn into beads for years. I will post up a few examples over the weekend.
A collection of beech tree sphaeroblasts.
The nodule in the bottom left of the picture is the size of a small Pea while the one above it is the size of a new potato. the top two have had the bark removed while freshly harvested; when dry this can be a bit of a chore and tough on the hands. I use a knife to peal the bark of so I need to be aware of potential finger and palm slicing.
This fella is a beech tree, root harvested, sphaeroblast and is two and a quarter inches high and the same at the base. I haven't found a sample this large for a while so this carving is going to be quite a rare one.
He emerged from the nodule with long flowing hair and due to his positioning lends himself to being an incense stick holder (bottom Pic). the pound coin gives you a size comparison and the small nodule is the same one in the bottom left hand of the picture above.
I have been trying to think of a suitable name incorporating sphaeroblast or variations..........!
not easy, suggestions welcome.
He is finished in oil and I am quite pleased with the texture and look of the hair. he is extremely tactile and makes a great point of interest in the room. When burning the incense there is a risk of scorching the mouth area so care will need to be taken.
Available to purchase, unless I cant bear to let him go. (I get attached to these guys sometimes).
Let me know what you think