This work presents a piece of very rare Cuban mahogany. This wood species used to be referred to as “genuine mahogany,” but because Cuban mahogany is now so rare and endangered, the term genuine mahogany now refers to the less desirable Honduran mahogany.
The Woodworking Network states, “Mahogany’s story is a fascinating one. Mahogany was one of the treasures of the new world which was exploited to the point of extinction in many areas. Cuban mahogany, which is also called baywood and Havana wood (Swietenia mahogani), is widely considered the top mahogany, but over-harvesting wiped out what was considered to be Cuba’s finest natural resource. The logging practices were so mismanaged in Cuba and in other parts of Central and South America that experts point to them as examples of what not to do.” Today, only dead trees can be harvested. When Cuban Mahogany is legally harvested with a permit, the arborist is allegedly required to contact the United States government to inquire if they need it for any restoration projects on various historical buildings. Because of the rarity of this wood and the uniqueness of this particular wood slab, this is truly a one-of-a-kind work of art.
This particular mahogany tree grew in the southern tip of Florida. When it died, it began to deteriorate inside, which caused the darkened, mottled area seen. The craftsman stabilized and preserved this area with a penetrating wood hardener. The dark, tear dropped voids are inclusions of bark, stabilized with the same penetrating wood hardener. The piece is finished with a hard wax oil blend of tung oil, paraffin wax, and carnauba wax. This creates a durable yet naturally organic and beautiful “close to the wood” finish.
The elk antlers suspend the mahogany in a perfectly complimentary arrangement. They follow the natural shape of the wood and are symmetrically placed with each other. They appear the be carrying the wood slab along. The antlers are naturally shed from wild elk in Wyoming. Each antler comes from a mature bull, all boasting six proud tines.
The wood and antlers in combination give the appearance of a red cloud being carried along. The darkened area of the wood looks like a thunderhead expanding through a cloud. For these reasons, this piece carries the name “Red Cloud.”
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