Rowan Ogham Fews and a Barn Owl

These are for a lovely local woman whose site you may have stumbled across from my blog: Red Moon Keeper. She made me one of her amazingly gorgeous necklaces and in return I just had to make her something equally beautiful back!  As she coveted my detailed ogham staves I agreed to make a set for her with a box to match. The box is pyrographed with a Barn Owl sitting in a Rowan tree with the Ogham alphabet in the fish-tail font wrapped around the sides. The staves themselves are made from Rowan wood I cut myself from the forest, cured, sanded then carved, woodburned, and painted. I personally do not like or believe in varnishing wood so these are finished with raw linseed oil and my own wood balm made with almond and linseed oils as well as preserving Cedar and Lavender essential oils – and of course my blessing oil.

The entire process, not including the curing of the wood, takes about a week in total from start to finish working on them every day.  Counting curing the wood it took me about a month. I know what you’re thinking, “these are lovely – can I have a set?” Unfortunately the answer is no — I will not be making these anymore due to all the time and work involved, but I will be making plain carved ones with the ogham runes traditionally reddened along with Furthark runes traditionally carved and reddened as well.

Join the discussion 19 Comments

  • Elizabeth says:

    These are astoundingly lovely. Great great work! Your friend is very lucky. :)

    Out of curiosity, what kind of paint did you use?

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you! <3

      I use Saman water-based wood stains, they're eco-friendly and mix like watercolours. I like to use wood stain so the grain of the wood can still be seen.


  • F. Ashwood says:

    Sarah, you yourself have anticipated our reactions… This set is just sooo WONDERFUL! I’m really amazed with the clean carving and detailed engravings on these staves.

    Really beautiful work… Congrats!

  • bluedruid says:

    I just wanted to say that these are absolutely beautiful and inspiring. I just tried my hand at making my first set of Ogham’s myself (though they don’t come even close to this). I was wondering if there is a traditional oil to use finish them with. The linseed/cedar/lavender combination sounds wonderful. Very nicely done!

    • Sarah says:

      Linseed oil is the most commonly used – it brings out the rich colours of the natural wood and also hardens the wood to preserve its longevity and make it more durable. Raw linseed oil is for when you are not going to varnish, and boiled linseed oil is used if you wish to varnish or use a more natural seal like shellac etc.

      The two most important ingredients in the wood balm are linseed oil and beeswax – beeswax helps to polish and create a moisture barrier. It can also give shine as linseed oil does not.

      Slainte mhor!

  • Nix says:

    These are stunning, Sarah! The most gorgeous pieces I’ve seen.

  • Anica says:

    you tend to your crafts so lovingly. this is the definition of an artist i think.

  • Anica says:

    and cheers on not over treating (really poisoning) your woods, its a real experience for me to see the sun temper the wood finish over time.

  • Sarah says:

    Thank you very much Anica, your words mean a lot to me!

  • Hi Sarah~ Do you make your own linseed/beeswax wax and if so, I’m assuming you leave the turpentine out. Yes? Equal parts?


  • Sarah says:

    Do you mean the woodbalm? I make it like my healing balms but I use linseed oil instead of the usual cooking/body oils. The linseed oil I use before applying the wood balm is just plain raw linseed oil and you’re correct, I don’t cut it with turpentine like most woodworkers do 😉

    The beeswax and linseed oil ratio for the wood balm is 1oz of beeswax per 1 cup of oil.


    • Awesome, yes woodbalm. What a lovely word for it. I like that so much better… I used to used linseed oil for my soapstone carvings. Love that stuff… Thanks! The wood things I just finished burning (and now have to paint, which I had easy access to those cool stains you use) will get a new treatment. I’ve been so unhappy with the products I’ve tried of late…

      My grandmother’s furniture will be happier too!

      Many thanks and blessings to you from me and the wood,

  • Hedgeman says:

    these are truly gorgeous. very impressive work. i am quite in awe of the things you make.

  • Lady Lavona says:

    These are so beautiful…the best I’ve ever seen! I’ve been looking to buy a set, do you do custom orders?

  • Lady Lavona says:

    I was so excited I never got that far into reading!

  • neimh says:

    These are the most beautiful Ogham staves (and Box) I have ever seen. Amazing work!