The Olive Wood
"The Wood is from the tree of life, those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed." Proverbs 3:18
Bethlehem olive wood is heavy, dense, and durable with a distinctive red pigment in its grain. All carvings made of this hard wood have a varying and smooth grain, making every piece extraordinarily unique. It is very difficult to match the grain of two pieces since the pattern is completely hidden in the heart of the wood.
After the olive tree is trimmed, the branches are kept to dry for a few years inside Bethlehem caves. Caves are ideal to dry the olive wood because the temperatures of the cave stays the same all year round and there is no moisture or humidity so the wood dries without splitting or cracking and becomes ideal for carving.
Experienced carvers can estimate the age of a particular piece by examining its grain. Very old trees have a dark grain while younger trees exhibit a lighter color.
The dark grains inside the trunk of the olive wood are called the heart of the wood or the jewels and they are highly prized by olive wood carvers and customers for their timeless beauty.
Once carved, the wood is sanded and coated with a special sealant to protect it and highlight the texture of the grain. Since olive wood is one of the hardest woods on earth, carvings will easily last a life time and be admired by generations to come.