Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Finding beauty in carved-out scars of a tree

On a tree, a burl is like scar tissue. It's the coarse, unsightly, gnarled-up scab that forms after a branch is ripped off or the bark has been damaged. (After last winter's ice storm in central and eastern Canada, many trees will be marred by burls.) To most carpenters, they are basically waste – their dense, warped grain is too difficult to cut.

Don and Jesse Stinson, father-and-son woodworkers from Tamworth, Ont., turn them into art. The process is painstaking. After collecting the knotty growths from loggers, saw mills and farmers, the Stinsons age the lumber for up to two years under a pile of wet and composted shavings (the prolonged dampness helps bring out the natural colours of the cedar, birch, oak or whatever wood they're using).

Then, with chainsaws, knives, hammers and hand-grinders, they slowly, carefully carve the burl into covet-worthy bowls (notable collectors include Carrie Underwood, William Shatner and Steven Spielberg). The sizes range from six inches to over six feet, so the vessels are used as anything from candy dishes to lobby sculptures.

Story continues below advertisement

Stinson burl bowls $60 to $8,000. Through stinsonstudios.ca.

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.