Michael Stephenson

Amboyna Burl Heart Maple Bird Pair, 2022
12 x 6 in
Michael Stephenson removes wood until only the simple beauty of the bird form remains. Made of the most beautiful woods he can find on the earth, they each unique in wood and shape. Each piece can be removed from the stand so you can connect to the wood by holding bird in hand and enjoying the grain. This wood sculpture is composed of an Amboyna Burl body with Heart Maple Tail and Mopani base. Amboyna Burl is one of the most exotic burls of the world, and used for high end veneers such as the dashboard of the Mercedes Mai Bock. It is the most expensive and sought-after of the burl species and is used for highly decorative turnings, guitars, and wood sculptures and is sold by the weight. The colors are reddish brown and can swing into gold. The burls are found on the Narra and Paduak trees in Southeast Asia. Heart Maples is from the heart of the tree and is much darker than the outer sapwood. Mopani is a beautiful, two-color African hardwood. The unique mottled color, textures and smooth surface make it a great base. Between gnarled knots, sweeping grains and pointy horns each piece is truly unique. Bodock wood is a hard, heavy and dense wood that makes a great sculpture base. It is also known as bodark, horse-apple or bois d’arc.

Michael Stephenson

Michael Stephenson is a lifelong Mississippian with a nearly lifelong appreciation for the natural world. Lately, that interest along with a forty-year woodwork avocation has resulted in a range of semi-abstract bird sculptures. The intention is less depiction than evocation, more an invitation for the viewer's own musings than an ornithology snapshot. 


The hardwoods used are those that best serve the beauty of the subjects themselves: redbud, pear, and maple burl from local sources, redheart, amboyna, padauk, bubinga and other sustainable species from around the world. 


T.S. Eliot's epic poem Burnt Norton features a bird beckoning us to return to "our first world". On a smaller, quieter scale, the wooden birds in this series are an invitation to summon memories of simple pleasures and moments of fleeting grace and beauty from our past.



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