Contrary to the obvious, diamond willow is an abnormality of several species of willow not specific species, resulting from what is commonly believed to be a fungal infection by Valsa Sordida. The fungus functions against the tree much like sand within an oyster, it causes an irritation that in this case results in the tree growing around the location where the fungus roots. The natural growth pattern turns towards an elongated "diamond like" shape developing an impression towards the center where the fungus resides.
Diamond willow formations are most common to the colder north climates ranging from Alaska into Canada and certain areas of Minnesota and Michigan. Usually tracking them down requires tracking into swamps, bogs, and riverbeds, many of which our scouts have told us are only accessible certain times of year.
The shapes of the anomalies varies, some are widely spaced, and others closely clumped. The more diamonds on a section of wood, the more valuable that piece is considered, in most cases. For the purposes of walking stick carving too many diamonds can crowd the shaft space and prevent introduction of other details. It's all a matter of opinion as to what is the perfect diamond ratio for any given project.
When the bark is removed, and the staff is carefully sanded and prepped, making sure not to remove the reddish layers under the bark especially focused on the diamond areas, the true beauty of the piece starts to appear. It is a personal choice to carve around the diamonds creating further contrast and depth, or to leave the natural flow of the wood intact. Finishing in natural oils such as tung oil or shellac provide for the most outstanding grain patterns.
All of this background amounts to an amazingly unique piece of wood - depending on the size and shape these are useful for walking sticks, lamps, table bases, coat racks, chair frames, and a host of other projects. Stanley Saperstein carves these unique "freaks of nature" to produce one-of-a-kind walking sticks and canes