Bird number: 28
Date: December 22, 2011
Wood: Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
Source: Neighbor’s dead tree
I’d heard from a wood turner that this mimosa was beautiful wood. I’d been wanting to carve it for over a year, but couldn’t find any. We have a tree in the yard, but there weren’t any dead limbs of sufficient size, and I’m not going to cut up a tree just to feed my carving habit. Last spring I noticed that a neighbor had taken down a dead mimosa tree, so I stopped and asked if I could have some of it. Not surprisingly, he was happy to let me take all I wanted.
It is indeed some beautiful wood.
What surprised me most about this piece of wood was how light it is. I’m used to dark, highly-figured woods being very dense. This stuff is not very dense at all. It’s so easy to cut that I carved this bird with a knife rather than with the Foredom. The only difficulty I had was with the open grain, which is not at all forgiving if you carve against it. It’s been a while since I carved basswood, but the ease with which this cuts reminded me very much of basswood.
I’ve heard that dust from the wood is toxic. It’s tough to find good information. What I know, I posted in my blog earlier this year: Is that wood toxic? Not one to take a chance where my lungs are concerned, I wore my respirator when cutting the blank on the bandsaw, and wore a paper dust mask while I was sanding. I didn’t notice any ill effects.
This is the only type of wood from which Debra didn’t get the first carving. I carved a mimosa bird early on as a gift for the neighbor who gave me the wood. That was before Debra said that she wanted the first example from each type of wood.
I’m surprised that I can’t find more pictures of things carved or turned from mimosa. Google images returns a few nice pieces when I search for [mimosa carving], but only a few. One would expect that a wood this pretty that’s as readily available would be much more popular. It doesn’t seem much good for lumber, but I found it quite nice to carve.
And it is very available around here. The mimosa tree typically lives 20 to 30 years, and there were a lot of them planted in this area when the subdivision was built–about 30 years ago. Our tree is dying (the recent drought was pretty hard on it), and several neighbors’ trees are in pretty bad shape. The neighbor who gave me the limbs last summer has since given me the trunk of the dead tree. It’s about two feet tall and 18 inches in diameter. I’ll have plenty of mimosa for a while.