The Bowl of Remembering

Close up view of The Bowl of Remembering showing the wonderful carving work the worms did to help me with this bowl. #bowlofremembering #ninthwavedesigns #wormholes #woodenbowl #butternut #bowlcarving #wormybutternut #wormswerehere #handcarved

I recently finished a project that involved carving the first of what I hope will be many hand carved wooden bowls. I developed an interest in carving wooden bowls through the process of learning to carve wooden spoons –  carving the hollows of the spoons is a very satisfying process for me for some reason. This interest bloomed into full-blown inspiration after discovering the bowl carving beauty of David Fisher’s work through his blog: David Fisher, Carving Explorations. This first bowl is a very humble offering compared to Fisher’s grand and graceful creations.

Bowl carving started for me after I came across a small piece of very wormy butternut at my local mill – and while thinking about what I could carve from the curious piece of wood the idea came to me to make a bowl, but with holes. Somehow that idea transformed into a metaphor for memory – or more the lack of memory that I experience as part of getting older – and then I had the concept in place for the Bowl of Remembering.


Before I started adding the texture of wrinkles of the brain I first had to carve the outside of the bowl to the smooth shape I wanted – leaving it a little thicker than usual to allow for the depth of the fissures.

After I carved the wrinkles, I shaped the small handles and I added a carved key on the bottom.

Outside view of my recently completed hand carved wooden bowl - The Bowl of Remembering - showing the key carved on the bowl bottom. Carved from a piece of wormy butternut. I carved the outside of the bowl to look like a human brain with the worm holes perforating the bowl. I made it as a sort of talisman against the forgetfulness that has become my new normal since turning 50. #warmwood #brass #skeletonkey #wormswerehere #wormybutternut #bowlcarving #bowl #butternut #woodenbowl #wormholes #brain #memory #bowlofremembering #ninthwavedesigns #key

I scraped the inside of the bowl smooth and sanded it. Then I began the process of cleaning out the worm holes using a combination of dental picks and those tiny dental brushes to get them clean. I finished the bowl with walnut oil and beeswax which made the wood darken up considerably.

Inside view of my recently completed hand carved wooden bowl - The Bowl of Remembering - carved from a piece of wormy butternut, with an antique brass key accent. This butternut darkened up to almost as deep a shade as walnut - the worm holes perforate the bowl but that is hard to capture in the photograph. #ninthwavedesigns #wormholes #woodenbowl #butternut #bowl #bowlcarving #wormybutternut #wormswerehere #skeletonkey #brass #warmwood #bowlofremembering #key

The final touch was to add a small brass key I found at the local antique marketplace. This represents the lost memories, and a physical holding of the intangible thoughts that might otherwise slip through the sieve of the wormy wood. In this way, the main idea behind the Bowl of Remembering is that it serves as a talisman against forgetfulness, and a visual incantation in support of improved memory function.

That, combined with a few good nights of sleep, just might do the trick!