Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shaggy Bark Hickory

I needed a good reference photo for a painting I was working on and came across some interesting information about trees. I'm a tree lover-good thing too, since I live in the woods! We have a lot of shaggy bark hickory on the property but I still wanted photographic reference. It's easier to bring the tree to me, rather than lug all my painting paraphenalia to the tree!

Anyway, I also found a website that caught my attention about why bark "splits". So, being the geek I am I had to read about it. I remember reading about trees and such thousands of years ago in grade school but I didn't remember that ALL trees have a layer of cork in them.

When you touching a tree, you are touching the layer of the bark called the cork. This is a waterproof material that won't let the tree's water escape through it. As the tree grows the bark cracks, because it can't stretch to the larger size. Kinda like splitting the seams on your jeans, huh. A layer of cells makes new cork to fill in between the broken cork so that the tree's water doesn't get out. TMI, right? Read on...

In most trees, the cork layer is really thin. In the Cork Oak which grows in Portugal it gets very thick. When the cork layer gets thick enough, it is cut from the tree. It keeps growing back so the tree survives and more cork is harvested from it over time. They're weird looking once the layer is removed-they're orange. Look on this website if you want to see.

Now you know where the cork in wine bottles and bulletin boards comes from.

Oh yeah, my painting is almost done too. I used modeling paste on slate to try to duplicate the bark of the tree. It looks pretty good so far. I'll post it when it's done.

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