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Ideas for “special” pieces of magnolia

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3DCDF8EA-3512-4CCE-9903-C89000590520.jpegA neighbor couple has asked me if I could do something with these pieces of magnolia that broke out of their tree a few years ago. They have been sitting in the garage drying, and are now fully dry, and have a few checks, but none too deep. I think I can get some small bowl blanks from them, but I wonder if anyone has any other creative ideas. Both pieces are 16” long, and about 7 1/2”x 5 1/2” in diameter. The significance is that they were married under the tree, and would love something to commemorate their wedding. I’ve been thinking along the lines of a goblet, or perhaps candlesticks. I’d love to hear if folks have other thoughts before I dig into it. Thanks!
 
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May also wish, if you are not going to save the bark, peel off the bark and cambium layer (or lightly turn it off and save shavings) - ground up into shavings and dampened with a bit of alcohol or something, makes a real nice potpourri. I actually took some smaller pieces that had checks and cracks (unusable, really) and chuck em in my vise and use hand plane to peel shavings off the outer layers- stuffed em in ziplock bags and sold 'em away.. (I did the same with some apple wood, which sold to people that like to do their own smoked meats and cheeses, etc) If your neighbors like the scent they might enjoy having some shavings for their own potpourri... but other than that, I'd probably as them what sort of shapes they like, where they think they might like to place their memorial (Indeed, if they had a specific motif/theme, or altar, for their wedding, they might like to see if you can do some flatwork to re-create it in miniature?)
 
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I think your idea of double ringed goblets is spot on. You could also make a covered box and follow Brian's suggestion and put the fragrant shavings in the covered bowl. Or make a specific potpourri bowl with a commercial 'lid'. Aromas get right to the emotional part of our brain, and in this case would be a powerful trigger for their nostalgia.
 

hockenbery

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maybe a couple of Christmas ornament balls if those a small burls on the one on the right
it has a split that you might use to cut it in half NE bowl from one side couple of ornament balls

Here are some pieces I have done with similar sized pieces
you might consider
natural edge bowlCD94ADC4-1C3E-4DF9-BB63-22F0F24C5B2D.jpeg

NE vase Sherry did this one from Holley 7D8F84A9-0551-4216-A44E-58C37CF7EDA0.jpeg

seed jarF00F5E8C-CCED-49A0-8250-649B3E92D707.jpeg DA012AA5-DD6B-4804-8788-43DD1E19BE19.jpeg

suspended spherical forAFFC70AF-4062-4C34-AD97-5FF099300BF0.jpeg
 
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The goblet form could work however when I do them it is usually with green wood.
PedestalBowl.jpg I have no experience with magnolia, but judging by the lack of checking I would guess that it is fairly soft so that may be difficult to turn a thin walled goblet form and the dry bark will likely fall off.

The hollow form is another idea that has the potential for the largest possible piece form the pieces you have. The form with the pith included is best if the top opening removes the pith and the base tapers down as small as possible and I think that is the most pleasing form.
mar24juniperUrns.JPG These are unfinished hollow forms in juniper with the tenon still attached so when finished the base would be about 2" diameter.
 
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These are all awesome ideas! Thanks so much everyone for these terrific suggestions! I hope to start working on this in the next day or so. Don, you raise an interesting question about how soft this may be. I’ll do a small test piece, maybe like Al’s seed jars or Sherry’s vase (lovely!) and see if I can get a clean finish ing cut on it. I’ll keep you posted.
 
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Let me throw this thought out there. If this is to be a keepsake, then I would avoid making something too delicate. I'd be worried that thin stemmed goblets wouldn't be durable.
 
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Note on being 'dry', the inside will not be as dry as the outside. For the piece on the right, I would split it down that crack that is already there, especially if the crack is pretty much mirrored on the other end. That would give you a couple of nice bowls with some burl patterns on the bottoms of the bowls. With the other piece, I would consider that more for end grain pieces like goblets or vases. Even lidded boxes.

robo hippy
 
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If they drink wine, then I would suggest a couple of bottle stoppers using the burls, coupled to nice stainless bases such as Ruth Niles sells...coupled with a stand from the tree. Something functional that they might use frequently would further their connection with the tree, and each other. Maybe also a charcuterie board.
 
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I think you will be surprised how deep the cracks go and I'm sure the center of the log is not dry. It will still move quite a bit after turning. I'd do 4 bowls, and core each out. You could get at least 12 bowls with coring so members of the family could enjoy them.
 
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Let me through this thought out there. If this is to be a keepsake, then I would avoid making something too delicate. I'd be worried that thin stemmed goblets wouldn't be durable.
It depends on the characteristics of the wood and the skill of the turner.
In general the thin walled goblet forms which are lighter will hold up to being dropped without breaking and if it is a keepsake it will likely be kept in a protected display.
 
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Note on being 'dry', the inside will not be as dry as the outside. For the piece on the right, I would split it down that crack that is already there, especially if the crack is pretty much mirrored on the other end. That would give you a couple of nice bowls with some burl patterns on the bottoms of the bowls. With the other piece, I would consider that more for end grain pieces like goblets or vases. Even lidded boxes.

robo hippy
This is an important point and to add to that the wet core could be rotten also.
 
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I think you will be surprised how deep the cracks go and I'm sure the center of the log is not dry. It will still move quite a bit after turning. I'd do 4 bowls, and core each out. You could get at least 12 bowls with coring so members of the family could enjoy them.
With a round being only 7 1/2" max diameter you would be lucky to get a 6" diameter X 2 1/2" deep bowl from each half and if you core those you might get a 4" X 1 1/2" bowl for a total of 8 bowls.
 
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Not sure what the growths are but I have never seen nor heard of Magnolia with burls. The wood will turn gray rather quickly unless turned very green and wet,
I'll second that. Biggest piece of magnolia I had and I ended up with about a 7 inch bowl (just barely). and it got a finish applied right away. The heartwood can appear purple if you are able to save it (it often gets punky and rots out really quick) but applying most finishes will cause the purple to darken to almost black-ish (I did get one that I finished with spray lacquer, saving the purplish tint) and the scraps ( basically firewood shaped) the white-ish wood turned grey quite quickly as it was left out to dry and oxidize. I have some pics of some of the magnolia pieces I have done, if I could just locate them, I'd post em. Ah found the 7 incher : 20210416_164016.jpg
 
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If they are small enough, perhaps live edge twig vases:

IMG_20210809_145849.jpg

I had some birch logs that I turned into a few twig vases recently. Lucky bonus, they were spalted!
 
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This is from a crook from a large Magnolia limb. It’s about 11inches across. The wood is soft and easy to turn. Tearing wasn’t really a problem because, although soft, the grain is very close. Soft enough that I turned it green-once turned only- with the pith going straight through, without cracking.077088BE-FE8E-42EA-B4D4-38299F8DFE85.jpeg
 
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I agree with the double ring goblet. Now since when is magnolia fragrant. Yes I have turned a bit of it and never noticed a scent at all.
Most of the northern magnolia we have here is Canada has a very nice lemony odour when fresh sawn. Not sure about southern magnolia.
 
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I like your natural edge bowl Marc. I started playing with it today. I cut a six inch piece off one of the logs. Was happy to find that it was dry through and through, and no rot. Very light weight but if I used very sharp tools, got no, or very little tear out. I started just with a simple bowl to see how it turned. This one is 5 1/2” in diameter.D6DE7AC9-5EDC-49BE-967A-9365AA0EB020.jpeg Here it is before any finish. I find the grain attractive.
 
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Most of the northern magnolia we have here is Canada has a very nice lemony odour when fresh sawn. Not sure about southern magnolia.
The species here is Magnolia Grandiflora and it is the state flower, the bloom not the tree
 
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I like your natural edge bowl Marc. I started playing with it today. I cut a six inch piece off one of the logs. Was happy to find that it was dry through and through, and no rot. Very light weight but if I used very sharp tools, got no, or very little tear out. I started just with a simple bowl to see how it turned. This one is 5 1/2” in diameter.View attachment 40128 Here it is before any finish. I find the grain attractive.
Gorgeous!
 
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Here (in the foreground) is today’s effort, version 2.0. I think a nice marriage commemoration may be a (slightly mismatched) pair. Still to be finished and buffed, but I’m getting there.

Edited: As Gerald noted, and Brian said above: “the white-ish wood turned grey quite quickly as it was left out to dry and oxidize.” It is a disappointment that the color of the wood is pretty bland/grey. I’m hoping a buff will add a bit of depth.

96F36923-1918-47DD-993D-354BC6693B4E.jpeg
 
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Nice pieces Lou. I think you did the special wood proud.
I try not to think of Magnolia as ‘bland’, but that it has a quiet charm.
 
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Thanks Marc!
I received a Beale buffing system in the mail today. I hope to use it tomorrow to see how the magnolia responds to it. I got a booster vaccine yesterday, and spent today feeling pretty lousy, but hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be back up to going into the shop.
 
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Thanks Marc!
I received a Beale buffing system in the mail today. I hope to use it tomorrow to see how the magnolia responds to it. I got a booster vaccine yesterday, and spent today feeling pretty lousy, but hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be back up to going into the shop.
Prepare for a lot of lint, fuzz, loose threads, etc. Wear a mask and eye protection. I would recommend running each wheel
dry and rub with a stick to release loose fibers before applying any compound. DAMHIKT!
 
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Thanks for the heads-up Tom. I read the literature that came with the Beale and it suggested the same thing. I did that and had a good first experience with it on the exterior of one of the bowls. I’ve been swamped roughing out a bunch of ash blanks that I got from a downed city tree two days ago, so did not have time to finish up the buffing. Tomorrow, I hope. 9EC58932-998D-41D6-BF59-C594FA1C804D.jpeg
 
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