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Spotlight on woods: Bethlehem Olive Wood

Posted by Jason Jones on

In our continuing series featuring woods we use in our shop, this month, in honor of Passover & Easter we are going to focus on Bethlehem Olive wood.

 

WHAT COLOR IS BETHLEHEM OLIVE WOOD?

Olive wood has a wonderful creamy yellow color with streaks of browns throughout it, which gives an almost marbled look.  As time goes on, the color will deepen.  You can see in the set below the beautiful “marbled” colors.

Olivewood pen set

Bethlehem Olive wood Copper Pen & Pencil

IS IT REALLY FROM BETHLEHEM (OR THE HOLY LAND)?

Yes (and no)! Olive wood is an exotic wood that is native to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. While you can get Olive wood from other places, we use a supplier that only uses fallen trees from olive wood trees in the Bethlehem region (we always include an authenticity certificate, like below so you know it is authentic).

Olivewood pencil

Bethlehem Olive wood pen in gunmetal with certificate of authenticity

HOW DURABLE IS IT?

Olive wood turns well and carves beautifully.  It is often used in carvings and other handicrafts from the Holy Land region.  It is not particularly durable and the tree itself can be susceptible to insects, however it is easy to work with and finishes well.

Olivewood mesa pen

Mesa style olive wood pen

Olivewood camels

Camels carved from olive wood

HOW ABOUT ALLERGIES?

As with any wood, extended time breathing in sawdust is inadvisable.  Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Olive has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye and skin irritation.

WHAT ARE ITS MAIN USES?

You will see carvings and turned items often made from olive wood (as I have illustrated above)  Additionally, furniture can be made in olive wood.

OLIVE BRANCHES AS A SYMBOL OF PEACE

  • The olive branch is known as a symbol for peace. An olive branch appears on the national flags of seven nations, four US states and the flag of the United Nations.
  • In ancient Rome too, the defeated during a war used to hold an olive branch to indicate that they were pleading for peace. According to Christian mythology, during the great flood, the dove sent in search of land by Noah, returned with an olive
Wood slice dove ornament

Pease Dove Wood Slice Ornament

Thanks for reading –

Jess

Great sources for more info on all types of woods are:

http://www.wood-database.com/olive/

https://www.aristotelis.biz/olivewood-facts.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_branch

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