Gerald Varner, Rotarian and pastor of the First United Methodist Church, gave a program at Rotary about his woodworking hobby.  He thought that a hobby was a very important thing for people to have, be it playing golf, tennis, sewing or woodworking.  He has been turning wood for over 40 years and brought many examples of some of his favorite pieces and some in various stages of completion.  He brought one version of Noah’s Ark, which he had made several pairs of animals for.  Each animal was made from a different piece of wood that sounded like the animal.  For instance, he uses snakewood for his pair of snakes and he uses ebony for elephants, camelthorne for camels, bubingo for buffalos, sassafras for skunks, rosewood for rhinos, zebrawood for zebras, etc.  Some wood for the animals was preserved by coating the wood, but some woods were so dense that the coating would never dry, so he doesn’t use a coating on that type of wood.  Some wood would change color, such as the purple heart wood that he used for the pair of giraffes.  Once the purple heart wood was not exposed to oxygen, it would turn brown and lose its purple cast, so he leaves that wood exposed to air.  
 
 
 
After talking about Noah’s Arc, he showed Rotarians some of his favorite bowls, which were actually made of some of the more common wood that you might find in Georgia, such as oak, magnolia, poplar, pecan, elm and maple.  Gerald explained that when a tree falls on the ground, that within a short period of time fungi and bacteria will begin to grow in and on the wood.  This process is known as “spalting” in the woodworking field and that many times this spalting action creates some very interesting features, such as a swirl of woodgrain patterns that might be very attractive.  He may leave a piece of wood outside in order to continue the spalting action and will periodically check the wood to see what is happening.  On the other hand, depending on the wood, Reverend Varner might take green wood and will turn a bowl directly from the green wood.  The bowl would be very rough in appearance and would be thicker and larger than the final version because once the wood begins to cure, the wood will shrink and warp according to how the bowl was cut out of the tree.  He showed bowls in various progressions of curing that further explained this process.  He also talked about bowls with bark incursions that either had openings in the side of the bowl or where  a natural bark edge was left along the top of the bowl.  These bowls were quite beautiful and more obviously not factory made.  He indicated that some trees could lay on the ground for up to 8 years without rotting and that sometimes these pieces of wood would have very interesting worm holes and insect holes throughout that made a handsome bowl.  He also talked about paulonia wood that had natural fire retardant proclivities that was many times used for doors in houses.
 
Rotarians were fascinated by all these processes and stayed long after the program was over to ask many more questions.  Reverend Varner does sell his woodwork sometimes, but all profits go to the annual mission trip that the Church takes to Honduras in July.