Tsuru Update: Sculpting the Basswood Crane


The crane, roughed-out in layers of basswood, almost ready for shaping

I’ve been laminating layers of basswood to shape into a large crane sculpture, to be cast in bronze as the feature of our Tsuru Project in Denver. With a specific gravity of 0.32 and non-directional, knot-free grain, the wood is lightweight, stable, and carves easily, making it the perfect material to shape into a stylized bird at this scale. Of equal significance to me, basswood comes from the linden tree, a species that thrives in regions where crane historically migrate.

I always like to find congruence between the forms I make and their material origin, however oblique or obscure. Since pre-Christian times, the tree was thought to have divine, healing powers throughout Northern European cultures, and its wood has since been carved and painted into panels and alters for religious iconography. In late spring, the linden tree produces a blossom that famously attracts honeybees, who make a distinctive monofloral honey with the nectar. The tree has always been associated with love, and is the subject of countless romantic poems:

Under the Tilia Tree

On the open field,
where we two had our bed,
you still can see
lovely both
broken flowers and grass.

On the edge of the woods in a vale,
sweetly sang the nightingale.

Walther von der Vogelweide (c. 1170–c. 1230)

3 replies on “Tsuru Update: Sculpting the Basswood Crane”

  1. Another spectacular entry ! Keep up the great work. PS Painting on the deck looks great – who did that ???

  2. Not really a volunteer since I received wonderful ( and free ) room and board while I stayed there to exhibit my skills as a painter and general handyman !! Love you guys ! TOM.

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