Unique Natural Wood Sculpture Manzanita Burl Curly Ash Home Interior Decor Accessory Lesson Learned

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 10-10-2012 01:25 PM 4948 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Original Sculpture:
The Natural Beauty of Wood
Manzanita Burl, Curly Ash, & Brass
Dimensions: 15.25” tall x 10” wide x 6.5” deep

To purchase this Sculpture, Visit my Store where I have items FOR SALE


Project Story:

Some things were just meant to be…...

Quite a few months ago a guy wanted me to build him a fancy walking cane. He pushed and pushed, and he didn’t like waiting in line like all the rest. I stay booked up on commissions about 18-24 months, and its been longer since the Recession/Depression, so go figure.

And that’s a long time for people to demonstrate their patience, and I understand that. But, I can only do what I can do. I’ve learned not to take deposits until I am ready to work on the item, since cashing their check only exacerbates the pressure on their patience, their spouse nagging them about how I probably took the money and left the country, and so comes the constant emails and phone calls about whether I’m ready to work on their item yet. It’s a lot to juggle actually, and one of the most frustrating things about being in this kind of business, that’s behind figuring up my taxes every year (I like paying the taxes, just don’t like keeping the records straight).

So, he seemed so bent on getting the cane done, or driving me crazy first, that I spent a little over $300 buying the stick of Pink Ivory and this Manzanita Burl, begging Griffin Exotic Woods to sell them to me. Manzanita is a difficult wood to buy, and even more difficult to use. I was to make a walking cane handle out of this beautiful hunk of wood, but before I cut it up, I decided to wait until I got the guy’s money first to cover it. I’m glad I waited…

Normally, I don’t buy such expensive materials without the customer’s money up front, but convinced this guy would do what he said, I bought the materials when I found them so that I could get his project finished, and him off my back.

After the materials arrived, he started questioning everything, what about this, and what about that, and the price of this and that, and needing everything in writing etc. So, I summarized all of the emails back and forth and put them into one formal quote in writing. Then, very quickly I got his response that he would send the deposit check right away….

But, the check never came.

I got so frustrated with it, that making the cane wouldn’t have been any fun anyway, so he “ain’t getting his cane now.”

It’s been about 9 months now, and he couldn’t get me to build him a cane if he came in the Shop on his knees begging with full payment in cash…....Ok, ok, maybe that would work after all.

So, over the many months waiting for that “check”, I kept looking at this beautiful hunk of Manzanita Burl sitting quietly in my shop.


At first I couldn’t figure out where to cut the Manzanita to make a cane handle out of it. Then, I just couldn’t bring myself to consider cutting it all.

Then, I started envisioning it as a natural piece of sculpture. Beautiful things that God builds with His hands, a man like me can’t improve upon. So, I took a pick and pulled out all of the bark inclusions, sand and gravel, and sanded, polished, and sealed it with Satin Lacquer. I mounted it on a piece of Curly Ash that I have been saving for many years for something special, and now I have a Sculpture.

And pull off the curtain, I present to you the “Natural Wood Sculpture”
Now, I need to figure out what to do that beautiful stick of Pink Ivory…..

thanks for reading along,
Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

7 comments so far

View Bubba84's profile


40 posts in 3319 days

#1 posted 10-10-2012 02:37 PM

That is one AWESOME sculpture you have created. Wow, I am speechless how beautiful that turned out. I know you said it was expensive materials, and the guy never sent the check, but you should consider yourself lucky to have that for yourself.
Great job!!!

-- Russ and Christina enjoying life with our two poochies!! :)

View Roger Strautman's profile

Roger Strautman

657 posts in 5373 days

#2 posted 10-10-2012 08:22 PM

Mark, WOW! That is one really nice piece of artwork. Your curly Ash is an awesome piece and the way you chose to cut out the base really makes the entire piece eye catching. You are the man! Thanks for sharing.

-- " All Things At First Appear Difficult"

View scrollingmom's profile


1212 posts in 3703 days

#3 posted 10-10-2012 09:21 PM

Too cool Mark. You turned something good out of something that could have been disappointing. Nice job.

-- Kelly, Allen,KS

View Karson's profile


35278 posts in 5639 days

#4 posted 10-10-2012 09:41 PM

Mark: A beautiful job on the burl.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View mmh's profile


3697 posts in 4961 days

#5 posted 10-12-2012 12:01 AM

Well at least you have a nice piece of Manzanita you can enjoy! I’ve had some interesting dead beats wanting to order a special customized cane and then they suddenly can’t find their credit card, or their son has it, or they just can’t seem to get it together, so why did they contact me in the first place??? Unkept appointments are really not cool. A simple, “I’m sorry, I really can’t continue with this commission right now.” would be civil and proper.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View basie's profile


47 posts in 3304 days

#6 posted 10-13-2012 06:26 PM

Wow, stunning job!

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12396 posts in 4667 days

#7 posted 10-13-2012 06:35 PM

It’s a beautiful piece, Mark.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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