Woodworker and collector Vern Bunn tells stories about timber through hand-turned eggs.
Story + Photos Mandy McKeesick
In a white-tiled room in Emerald, Central Queensland, 824 hand-turned timber eggs line the wall. Their earthy colours range from the pale honey tones of bitterbark to the near black of lancewood, and their textures vary wildly from the contortions of a river red gum burl to the silky, medullary rays of beefwood.
“Look at this,” Vern Bunn says enthusiastically, cradling an eye-catching black and white number. “It’s Australian ebony. Most people think that ebony is black, but the wood of a healthy ebony tree is white. The black colour is actually the result of a bacterial infection that works its way through the wood after a broken branch or a lightning strike. The black is so dark it sometimes looks like plastic because it has no visible grain.”
Vern is well on his way to becoming known as a master craftsman in wood-turning circles. His award-winning contemporary furniture displays an exacting attention to detail, his jewellery boxes are intricate and his bowls can be so fine they are translucent. But it is his knowledge of timber from Australia and around the world that makes him such a fascinating storyteller and artist.
Each one of Vern’s eggs is hand-carved on a lathe and, on average, with straight grain, takes 20 minutes to create.
This story excerpt is from Issue #149
Outback Magazine: June/July 2023