This was a custom gift piece I made for a friend. The wood was found in the yard of their childhood home. Originally it was much longer, but broken into two pieces. This is the second piece and the first was turned into a siblings wedding gift. The recipient’s name and personalized symbols were wood burned into the staff. I then used acrylic spray sealer to both protect the wood and keep the paint from smudging. I also used boiled linseed oil to give it a final protective polish.
This piece was a custom wedding gift I made for a friend. The wood was found in the yard of their childhood home. Originally it was much longer, but broken into two pieces. The second piece was turned into a siblings birthday gift. It features a lot of wood burned symbolism which include the Chi Rho, and anchor, and the recipient’s initials. The circles surrounding the anchor and Chi Rho, the alpha and omega aspect of the Chi Rho, recipient’s name in hieroglyphs with surrounding cartouche, and Roman “ichthys” were done using a black paint pen. The attached beads are an owl and several American coin replicas. Gold colored aluminum wire is wrapped around the staff several places to accent the piece and leather rawhide was used for the handle grip. A sealant was also used to hold the paint and protect the wood.
I especially enjoy working with runes and the straight lines certainly make them easier to create with a handheld wood burner than some other subject matters. This staff is 57.5″ piece of maple wood and contains the elder Futhark rune set in ascending order on one side and descending order on the other. Wood burned above the one rune set is a five pointed star, or pentagram, and above the other set is a Celtic trinity knot, or triquetra. The pentagram here symbolizes fire, water, earth, air, and spirit while the triquetra symbolizes the mother-maiden-crone goddess trinity. However both symbols vary in meaning depending on their locations and cultural context. Tied to the top is a string of pyrite and skull beads. Pyrite is symbolic of luck, wealth and prosperity while also being known in mythology as a stone to induce creativity, physical health, and well being. Skulls have numerous symbolic meanings around the world and in Celtic and Norse mythology by themselves. Here they are intended to symbolize magic, creation, and transformation. And the maple wood itself is symbolically known for balance, generosity, intelligence, and longevity. I used boiled linseed oil to protect and polish the wood.
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs are always fun to work with, though they do require a fair amount of precision hand work. Each of the six symbols were created with a wood burner and paint pens. The first set depicts an ankh, wedja, and seneb meaning life, prosperity, and health. The second set depicts the nefer, djed, and wasir symbols meaning beauty, strength, and power. There are also three beads attached a little more than half ways up the 56″ staff. They depict King Tutankhamen’s death mask, the god Amun, and an ankh. The staff itself is made from sumac wood which is sturdy, but lightweight. I used spray on acrylic sealer to protect both the wood and paint. I also used boiled linseed oil for the same reasons and it also gives the piece a subtle luster.
While it took a fair amount of time, patience, and a steady hand to make this staff I enjoyed working on it and am pleased with the final result. Red and orange flowers are joined by a leafy vine wrapped around the body of the staff. It’s a 60″ piece of maple wood with a faux ladybug attached near the top. The images were wood burned onto the staff and the colors come from paint pens which give better control than a typical brush. I then used a spray on acrylic sealer to keep the paint from smearing and wearing off as well protecting the wood from weathering. I also used boiled linseed oil for an extra layer of protection which had the added benefit of giving the piece a subtle shine.
This staff stands at 62.5” and is made from an unidentified hardwood. The original branch must have been about 15’ long and had to be carried home intact because it simply would not break. Our production partner helped with the procurement and refinement (sanding, cutting) of the piece. The best section was cut away and paint pens were used to illustrate the 12 constellations of the Zodiac. The signs are all in order although Pisces which is normally last fit better at the top. Spray acrylic sealer keeps the constellation images safe from smudging and the elements. Boiled linseed oil was also applied afterward producing an added luster to the wood.
This piece of wood used to be part of an old shovel, or something I don’t remember the specific tool. It looked run down, felt rough, but a little sanding, wood burning, and polyurethane gave it new life. The symbols have quotes from Star Wars like “May the force be with you” and “All is as the force wills it to be.” There are also quotes from The Walking Dead – appropriately for a bo staff there’s one from Morgan- “All life is precious,” along with “Let my mercy prevail over my wrath.” There’s a few other symbols thrown in for spacing and good measure like the symbol for the Rebellion in Star Wars and some Egyptian glyphs meaning “peace” and “strength.”
This is a shorter staff, perhaps more accurately a cane, and is made from a piece of beaver chew wood that’s 47.5” long, or just a half inch under 4 feet. The tips were shaped by beavers and their tooth marks can still be seen along its length. The top features a compass star above an astrolabe to symbolize guidance and direction. Below those are two turquoise beads threaded with rawhide and accented by vibrant strands of colored yarn symbolizing the intertwining of the four elemental forces: blue for water; green for earth; orange for fire, and light purple for air. Further down are a leaf, gusts of wind, a rain drop, and a flame, which are also meant to be representations of the four elemental forces. Opposite the compass star and astrolabe are a sun and crescent moon. Underneath those are a circle containing a river and pyramid and below that a star, the four symbolize the Sun, Moon, Earth and stars. The images are all wood burned then colored with paint pens. Acrylic sealer was used to keep the paint from smudging and to protect the wood from weathering as well as boiled linseed oil for the same purpose.
I’m tempted to say this staff is cursed. From the beginning nothing went the way I intended it and the final product turned out completely different from what I’d originally envisioned. Something would go wrong and I’d be forced to redo something else, or change the direction to compensate. Overall it still came out looking alright, just not its original intended look. And although I’m happy with the final outcome I’m more relieved that it’s finally done. It took a lot of hours to complete and even more to fine tune it and fix mistakes.
This is the first piece made with direct help from our new and first shop member other than myself. He debarked the wood, did most of the sanding and gave input into the overall design of the piece as well as assisting on other projects. It measures 65” or 5’5” from the base to the top of the glass crystal. Several pieces of amethyst were added along the underside of glass crystal for stability and aesthetic reasons, but really only the central stone remained visible of wrapping it with leather rawhide. The spiral running along the length of the staff was hand carved with a steel file and then highlighted with a silver paint pen and touches of copper too. Small blemishes and imperfections that didn’t come out with intense sanding were filled in with the copper paint to add a little more overall texture and nuance to the piece. Along the top of the spiral, I then used a wood burning tool to create the Elder Futhark rune set and the three larger runes symbolizing (from left to right) good luck, protection, and strength. There’s also a five pointed star and three sided knot on opposite sides of the top. I finished it by rubbing some boiled linseed oil along the length of the staff. And since I liked the accidental darkening effect of the oil on a previous staff (and because I already got some on the rawhide anyway) I applied some to the rawhide wrapping as well – which as I mentioned in another piece may not be the best idea, but shouldn’t be a problem for what the leather is being used for.
Artist: J.R. Goslant