​What Are ‘Ebonized’ Wood Bowls?

​What Are ‘Ebonized’ Wood Bowls?

Posted by Karen Mayo Marsh on 30th Mar 2015

Ebonized Wooden Bowls

In describing ebonized wood bowls, let’s look briefly at the rich history. Ebonized wood is an honored tradition. Ebony wood itself has a rich history in human culture dating back to ancient Egyptian times. The Egyptians used ebony wood for furniture, statues, and carvings.

Ebony wood, a native wood in western Africa and Indonesia, is extremely dense. In fact, it sinks in water. And, ebony wood has always been very expensive. In the 16th century, it was used for the crafting of fine cabinets for the luxury for the wealthy. So pricy, by the 17th, master craftsman had reduced the use of ebony wood to stripes in their pieces.

Ingenious craftsman began to figure out a way to “ebonize” less expensive wood to give it that same, rich black look while maintaining the integrity of the wood grain. The process of ebonizing today remains largely unchanged since its creation centuries ago.

Ebonized wood is not painted, and not stained. It is a natural process that changes the color of the wood. Today, the craftsman puts vinegar and steel wool in a plastic container and lets it sit overnight. Then, dips a cloth in the solution and carefully hand rubs it onto the wood.

The result is a deeply blackened natural wood with full grain showing. The ebonizing has a slightly different look on different species of wood. Cherry, for example, turns a nice, rich black for a striking effect while, on the other hand, Red Oak turns a deep, dark purplish black.

The art of hand-ebonizing of the outside and top rim of handcrafted wooden bowls creates a stunningly beautiful effect that really highlights the natural beauty of the wood while adding the sharply contrasting black aesthetic. It is a truly striking look, whether used as an individual bowl, or especially striking when in a complete set.

Take a look at our ebonized wood bowl collection here.