Just so you don't think I wasted my day, this is what I was up to today. Looks like a pile of firewood doesn't it? But it is really diamonds in the rough. This wood comes from a friend's property in South Central Alaska, it is a stand of genetically unique Baltic (White) Birch. In the cut ends of the large logs on the near end of the wood pile, you can see unique and distinctive heartwood grain figure, which in cross section resembles a rose. This is amazing material, similar in hardness to old growth maple.
If you're not a woodworker it may be hard to visualize these logs as anything other than firewood, so here's a couple of pictures of what it looks like after I've pushed the wood through my shop. The first picture is a pair of heartwood bowls with some of the softwood removed in interesting patterns along the grain line. The exterior of each bowl is textured in curved bas relief, again along the concentric gain lines. Both bowls are finished with walnut oil and coated in a glossy polycrilyc, giving them a glass-like finish. They are not intended to be practical containers, they are art. With a devotional candle (safely inside a candle glass) inserted inside, they radiate yellow light in organic patterns.
And finally, this dish, with filigree carving around the rim, is turned from sapwood (the lighter wood surrounding the heartwood inside of the bark. The filigree is cut with a Foredom tool using a fine carbide rotary bit. Like the bowls above, this one is finished with oil and polycrylic.
See? and you thought I was wasting my retirement. Ha!
Note: you can click on each picture for a larger image. Go on, do it, you know you want to.