If you like your ring grain densely-packed, but wild in nature, you may want to consider a particular alternative to briar that a handful of artisans a delving into these days: strawberry wood. As luck would have it, Paolo Becker in particular has been turning out some of the best work in this distinctive medium, with this towering, silver-mounted straight Billiard being a fine example of that work. The ring grain here is bursting with the energetic, wavering tremelo that serves as one of strawberry wood's signatures, yet still remains quite tightly-packed throughout about 90% of the bowl's considerable surface. And, as you might expect, such an untamed style of natural beauty, combined with a light, crisp sandblasting, makes for quite a stimulating feel in hand.
- Eric N. Squires