#37: Oregon Myrtle

Bird number: 60
Date: April 15, 2012
Wood: Oregon Myrtle (Umbellularia californica)
Source: Gift

A friend I traded carving wood with sent me this cutout. She had organized a comfort birds project with her carving club, and one of the people who participated wanted to reward my gift (I sent some wood for them to use for their project) with a gift of his own. So I got this cutout.

The person who sent it called it Oregon Myrtle. In California, they call this California Bay Laurel. It’s not at all related to the myrtles. It’s in the same family as the Bay Laurel, but not closely related. You can use the leaves from the California Bay Laurel in much the same way as you’d use bay leaves in cooking, although the California Bay has a much stronger flavor.

The cutout was from a pattern that’s slightly different from mine, so the bird’s shape is different. The body is more full and the tail is wider. I might try modifying my pattern again to approximate this one, just for some variety.

This wood is harder than what I would normally carve with a knife. I had thrown this cutout into my little carving bag and while I was out one day I started whittling on it. I ended up completing the carving with a knife, but it was somewhat difficult. If I carve Oregon Myrtle again, I’ll probably do it with power.

I’m a little bit disappointed in the color of the finished bird. The wood is actually more of a grey color, and I was hoping that would show when I put the finish on it. I’m starting to think that I need a different finish. It’s still a bit grey, but there’s more brown than I thought there would be.

Nice stuff, though. If I get the opportunity to carve it again, I’ll use a different finish. One that, I hope, won’t affect the color so much.