#23: Cottonwood

Bird number: 46
Date: March 1, 2012
Wood: Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii)
Source: Arizona

This piece is from another block of wood that I acquired in trade from a friend in Arizona. You might notice that the tail is a bit short. She goofed when she cut the wood block, making it four inches long rather than four and a half. So I have a short tailed bird.

I know that this is Fremont Cottonwood, because it’s the only type of cottonwood that grows in Arizona. The Fremont Cottonwood has a thick bark like the other cottonwoods, but not nearly as thick as Populus deltoides, whose bark is used to carve wood spirits and whimsical houses. Or so they tell me.

Other than the Hopi Indians, who traditionally carve their kachina dolls from cottonwood roots, I don’t seem much about people carving the wood from a cottonwood tree. Lots of people carve the bark.

Cottonwood isn’t a particularly interesting wood. The only notable thing about it is that it’s a terrible source of heat. It has a very low BTU rating. The wood burns, but not very hot.

Cottonwood carves quite nicely with a knife. It’s about the same hardness as the Royal Empress. Perhaps a little bit softer. The result is pretty, but not nearly as visually striking as most of the other woods I’ve been working with. I have a few more pieces that I won’t waste, but I probably won’t go looking for cottonwood in the future.

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