We visited my wife’s parents this weekend, and they sent us home with something old and broken. In this case, though, it’s pretty cool. What you see here is a dough bowl carved by my wife’s great-grandfather William Rice with his pocket knife pocket knife after he walked home from the Battle of Atlanta to Blount County, Alabama, in 1864. Family history says that that he was shot through the abdomen and threaded a piece of bedsheet through the bullet hole to stop the bleeding. When he got home, he cut down a tree and carved this bowl while he recuperated. What a badass!
The bowl measures approximately 15 x 25 inches (38 x 64 cm). It’s been stored in an unairconditioned storage room and has dried out and split in the middle. It appears to have had one or more coats or modern varnish or polyurethane applied to it. The question now is, what to do with it? The purist answer is probably nothing: stabilize it as is. Nonetheless, I’m tempted to fill the split, sand it to remove the modern finish, and put a coat of varnish oil on it so we can get some use out of it.