An Annotated Portfolio & Project Documentaries

Seventeen. The Magic Mushroom Table

Putting the finishing touches on "The Magic Mushroom Table"

In this studio photo, I’m applying the finishing touches to a table that took over 500 years to make.

The mushroom’s convex. umbonate cap and base are made of two burls sawn from an ancient Ponderosa pine.  The trunk of the tree was over five feet in diameter.  It was standing dead, and about to fall on a log home, in the mountains between Philipsburg and Georgetown Lake, Montana.  The stem is a section of a burled Lodgepole pine tree trunk from the same area.

The three pieces are joined to create the look of an organic, sculptural whole, as if the table grew into its mushroom shape.  I shaped a tenon at each end of the stem and inset them deeply into mortises cut into the base and cap.  Inserting the burled stem into the burled base required over a hundred tries to achieve a tight fit.  The joinery is reinforced with epoxy filler.

To make the mushroom functional as well as sculptural, I flattened the top of the cap and hollowed out two niches on opposite side of the rim.  (I imagine the table in use between two arm chairs, with a lamp or candle on top, and a wine glass in each niche).

The finish is two topcoats of satin polyurethane applied over two penetrating base coats of Watco Danish Oil.  Each coat revealed the complex swirls and natural colors of the burls’ flowing growth rings and woodgrains.

“The Magic Mushroom Table” weighs over 100 pounds, so I installed four furniture glides under the base.  The finished height is about 27″ and the oval-like diameters of the cap and base average 24 inches.


The table will be delivered to Creighton Block Gallery in Big Sky, Montana, this coming weekend, and be for sale as part of Colin’s and Paula’s gallery exhibition of five pieces of my tree art.

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