Robert Zlomke's Red oak burl with oiled finish. A stunning coffee table featuring a thick slice of burl from a locally salvaged coast live oak tree. 25 x 40 x 21 inches high; locally salvaged red oak burl, eastern walnut, clear epoxy.
This is available as a custom order. Please contact the gallery for ordering, shipping/delivery cost and arrangements.
The Oak Burl Table Story
In July 2014 I returned from a backpacking vacation to find a telephone message from an engineer I know who designs vineyards for a living. He wanted to tell me about a coast live oak tree tree, which was in the way of a new vineyard project south of the city of Napa and had caught his eye. It didn't even have a proper trunk. The base of the tree showed irregular branching right at the ground, and it was dominated by several of the roundish knobs which are referred to as burls and are much prized by woodworkers for their irregular and dramatic figure.
Thanks to his call, we were able to salvage the burls from this tree that summer, and now four years later we have begun to turn them into furniture.
Finding an interesting application for an irregularly shaped character piece is not easy. The first time I designed a base for a slab table, I remember being advised to make the base simple, so that the eye would be drawn to the slab top rather than the base. However, following this seemingly sensible advice has been an elusive quest.
What I find is that when we make furniture out of a piece of dramatic natural-edged wood by adding a base or other elements, the lines we create actively interact with the principal object, and we have to accept that they will be noticed. In this case, we have added a base inspired by the semi-circular shape that the slab approximates to. Our hope is for the geometric regularity of the base to provide a dramatic foil to the irregular top. The top is a token of the original tree, an emblem of the physical environment we live in, and dynamically opposed to the regular geometry of what we build.
All parts of the base came out of the same walnut board, a sample of the exciting walnut lumber we have been getting of late. The curved rails are constructed as bent laminations. The base is reminiscent of older American furniture, perhaps in the Federal style, which is characterized by both delicacy and geometric regularity, making an exciting contrast with the thick rugged top.
The result is a coffee table a bit higher than usual at 21 inches, giving full visual effect to the delicate legs while bringing the visually complex top closer to the viewer's eye. Besides the dramatic burl figure, the top has an array of character marks: small holes, created by insects during the drying process, which we have filled with clear epoxy - so you can see right into them.