Lately I have been enjoying creating jewellery from silver and wood, mostly black ebony and sometimes with cocobolo. On a recent trip to Exotic Woods in Burlington, I came across some beautiful pieces of black and white ebony, which I had not been familiar with. The salesperson told me that it was not completely dry, and advised me to dry it before working with it or it would eventually warp. Since drying wood is a slow process that normally takes months, I asked him whether there was a faster way of drying it. He told me that he knew of a guy who dried wood in his microwave by zapping it ten to twelve times, for about 10 seconds each time.
Not wanting to wait a year or so before I could begin to work with this wood, I decided to give the microwave method a try. I cut the ebony into small chunks, each slightly larger than the shapes I wanted to end up with after carving. I tried nuking the wood as the salesperson mentioned. The wood became very, very hot, but unfortunately after only four zaps, it warped, much as I had feared. I wasn’t exactly sure why, since I had been quite cautious, so I went to the internet for advice.
Predictably, everyone has lots of advice about drying wood. One method that intrigues involves boiling a piece of black & white ebony in boiling water for about an hour, taking it out while it’s still hot, then immediately placing it in a paper bag. I may just try this! I really enjoy working with this species of ebony because although it’s difficult to dry and carve, I can make beautiful jewellery with it.
Young Kyoung Ko