Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Perceptions on Spalted Wood: The Influence of Historic Spalting Patterns and Valuation of Spalted Wood Around the World. Public Deposited

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  • During the 1400s – 1600s, spalted wood was an expensive commodity used in marquetry style artworks across primarily Germany and Italy. It fell out of favor during the Industrial Revolution, but is currently experiencing resurgence in popularity with US woodturners. How spalted wood is used, and what types of spalted wood are favored in US studio woodturning, varies substantially from historic preferences. This thesis attempts to better understand current trends in spalted wood by surveying modern users of the material and comparing their preferences and woodworking habits to historic information. The research began in South America and Spain, in studying old intarsia and marquetry works and developing a method for determining the presence of spalted wood so that the unique pieces could be better identified. This study, along with previously published resources, definitively established that the blue-green wood of Chlorociboria was the most commonly used spalted wood in the middle ages, and that it was easily identifiable from synthetic verdigris stains of the time. From there, modern US woodturners were surveyed to determine demographics, turning habits, and spalted wood preferences. It was found that woodturning experience had no influence on the perception or value placed on spalted wood, however the visual perception of the complexity of the material was the driving factor that determined the preference and value given to spalted wood. Spalted wood with a higher complexity level (more spalting) was rated as having more value than wood with a lower complexity level. It was found that US woodturners preferred wood with zone lines (90% preferred) and/or pigmentation (65% preferred). This strong preference for zone lines was attributed to the legacy of Mel and Mark Lindquist. The results obtained by this study, will be of interest for the arts and crafts industry looking to develop and understand the spalted wood market in the US. Spalting has the potential to significantly increase the price of non-valued wood, and the understanding of important spalted wood markets could help guide the development of the product in regions like the tropics, were spalting has the potential to contribute to the creation of new markets and development of local communities.
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  • Ongoing Research
Embargo date range
  • 2018-03-23 to 2020-04-23



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