Finca Luz - 01Volcan Baru from Finca Luz, home of Cloud Forest Botanicals

Welcome to Xulonn

(from xulon – the ancient Greek word for wood).

Hola! from Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama, a farming, ranching and tourist region in the mountains of western Panama near the Costa Rica Border. Boquete is famous for its mountain-grown coffee, including the Geisha varietal, which is the highest priced coffee in the world based on recent auctions.  The neighboring region of Cerro Punta, west of Boquete at 7,200 foot elevation on the other side of Volcan Baru , is the premier food growing region in this part of Central America.  Because of it’s incredibly mild highlands climate, glorious rainbows, and spectacular scenery, Boquete and nearby locations are a favorite tourist destination for Panamanians as well as international travelers.   I’ll introduce you to some of the attractions and beauty of this region as time goes on.

This website will feature information about Panama – mostly related to Chiriqui Province.  I will blog about my interests and experiences, including woodturning, the tropical environment, exploring the countryside, photography and occasional bits about the people and culture.   Over time, as I collect data and take photographs, you will be able to find more here about Panama’s trees and some of the beautiful wood from those trees.

The below 6″, square rimmed cocobolo bowl is my signature piece.  It is my favorite of all the turnings I have done, and I made it for a very special friend.  I don’t do fancy, detailed turnings, but rather use the lathe and a natural buffed-on coat of pure Brazilian carnauba wax to highlight the beauty of the wood via shapes and visual lines that are usually simple and elegant.  And each piece – even my bottle stoppers, coffee scoopstea light candle stands, and honey dippers, are all finished to a very high standard.

2-13-11-Cocobolo Bowl for Deb-07

Cocobolo – Square Bowl

Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa) is a true rosewood. that grows in Panama and other Central American countries.  The “blank” from which I turned this bowl had a very unusual streak of light-colored spalted sapwood running across it.   I looked at the blank many times over many days before finally mounting it on the lathe and putting my sharp lathe chisels into it.  It’s somewhat like cleaving a diamond – I had one chance to do it right.   With good focus and concentration, I was able to complete the task and produce a gallery-quality piece, and it may be the last cocobolo bowl it make.  As happens to most people who sand cocobolo and get the fine dust on their arms, neck and head, I developed a skin allergy to it.  although the wood is not harmful, the super-fine sanding dust and chips often cause a skin reaction.  With sufficient exposure to cocobolo dust, I now get a serious rash and itching that takes hydrocortisone cream to control, so I only use cocobolo for an occasional bottle stopper  or coffee scoop handle.  I turn the piece as the last item in a session, and then I go into the house and change my clothes and wash any exposed skin with soap and water.