My Cypress Knee Collection

I became attracted to cypress knees quite a few years ago when my parents brought one home from an estate sale.  I had never seen one before and thought it was the neatest looking piece of wood.  

A cypress knee is actually part of the root system of the cypress tree.  Because the cypress tree lives in a swampy area, its roots are mainly submerged.  The knees are the parts of the roots that stand above the water level and they help bring oxygen to the tree.  Cutting them off is now illegal because it will kill the tree.  The knees I have were cut in the 1950's or before.  They were really popular around that time, especially for things like lamps (which you can still find on E-bay!).  

I have often thought about painting them with a surrealistic scene, like some of my artwork.  However, it is also very interesting to just observe them with different lighting effects.  I see different things on different days with some of the knees I have.  I tried my best to photograph them so that you can see what I've been seeing, but it doesn't always work because of the glare (they have a shiny finish after being boiled and having their outer bark removed, and unfortunately, some of the knees in my collection are also varnished with some type of lacquer).  

Some of the most interesting cypress knees ever created were often helped along in the process by a man named Tom Gaskins, now deceased.  

Click here to see my Tom Gaskins Collection, containing most of my favorite cypress knees.

Here are pictures of other cypress knees in my collection so far.  I hope to get many more.  Click on the thumbnails to see enlarged views of each.

first knee front.jpg (56265 bytes)  first knee back.jpg (79965 bytes)  
The knee that started my collection,
given to me by my parents  
Resembles Indian Chief's face at the top
32 1/2" tall
Lacquered
 
 
tall knee 1.jpg (66823 bytes)  tall knee 2.jpg (58095 bytes)  
28" tall knee 
Lacquered

 

 

wizard.jpg (84264 bytes)  
Wizard with long beard
15 1/2" tall
Lacquered
 
 
 

 

biggest knee natual location in home.jpg (89013 bytes)  biggest knee.jpg (68665 bytes)  biggest knee face closeup.jpg (79660 bytes)  
Man's face with beard
First picture shows knee in normal location.
31" tall
Lacquered

 

large three pointed twisty back.jpg (102334 bytes)  large three pointed twisty front.jpg (75694 bytes)  large three pointed twisty side.jpg (89690 bytes)  
Three-pointed knee with intricate details
30" to tallest point
Natural finish
 
 
 
mother and child.jpg (83291 bytes)  
Mother and child
8" tall
Lacquered
 

 

4-breasted alien front.jpg (122769 bytes)  4-breasted alien back.jpg (132026 bytes)
4-Breasted Alien
16 7/8" tall
Natural finish
 
 
 
knee with hole front.jpg (99528 bytes)  knee with hole side.jpg (77627 bytes)  knee with hole.jpg (102568 bytes)
Knee with hole
10 1/2" tall
Natural finish
 
hornsfront.jpg (82224 bytes)  hornsback.jpg (82175 bytes)
Horns
17 1/4" tall
Lacquered
 

 

knee head near hole front.jpg (83772 bytes)  knee head near hole back.jpg (90727 bytes)  
I'll let you use your imagination to determine what the first view resembles.
25 1/2" to tallest point
Natural finish

 

face view 1.jpg (102811 bytes)  face view 2.jpg (105908 bytes)  face view 3.jpg (115730 bytes)
Face
12 1/2" tall
Natural finish
 

 

kneefeb2005view1.jpg (110762 bytes)  kneefeb2005view2.jpg (118031 bytes)  kneefeb2005view3.jpg (120699 bytes)
5-pointed knee
18" tall
Natural finish
 
tall pointed 1.jpg (66054 bytes)  tall pointed 2.jpg (72377 bytes)  
Pointy knee
26" tall
Natural finish
 
 
 
giraffe knee pointing right.jpg (94279 bytes)  giraffe knee pointing left.jpg (126449 bytes)  
Double-necked giraffe knee
21 1/4" tall
Natural finish
 
 
cave knee view 1.jpg (112010 bytes)  cave knee view 2.jpg (119211 bytes)  cave knee view 3.jpg (113245 bytes)
Cave knee
16 1/4" tall
Lacquered
multiknee view 1.jpg (129208 bytes)  multiknee view 2.jpg (96085 bytes)  multiknee view 3.jpg (129957 bytes)
Multi-pointed knee
9 1/4" tall
Natural finish
 
wide knees.jpg (153163 bytes)  wide knees view 2.jpg (147379 bytes)  
This is the longest strip of knees I've ever come across.  
22 1/2" to tallest point
Natural finish
 
 
 
wide flat knee view 1.jpg (104680 bytes)  wide flat knee view 2.jpg (76200 bytes)  wide flat knee view 3.jpg (126591 bytes)
Wide, flat knee
15 3/4" tall
Natural finish
 
 
alien hand top view.jpg (106401 bytes)  alien hand side view.jpg (122743 bytes)  alien hand side view 3.jpg (134653 bytes)  alien hand side view 2.JPG (113343 bytes)  alien hand side view 4.jpg (97830 bytes)
Alien hand
19 3/4" tall
Natural finish
 
 
 
camel view 1.jpg (88282 bytes)  camel view 2.jpg (97129 bytes)  camel view 3.jpg (95122 bytes)  camel view 4.jpg (125585 bytes)
Camel
13 1/2" tall
Natural finish
 
 
 
drawersopenview1.jpg (113358 bytes)  drawersclosedview2.jpg (93382 bytes)  drawersopenview2.jpg (96605 bytes)  drawersclosedview3.jpg (97048 bytes)
drawersopenview3.jpg (102775 bytes)  drawersclosedview4.jpg (100389 bytes)  drawersopenview4.jpg (116457 bytes)  drawerscloseup.jpg (150807 bytes)
This is the most unique specimen of all.  This knee has 39 drawers (counting the drawers inside of other drawers) carefully carved into it.
22" tall
Lacquered
 
 
 

Other interesting wood pieces:

peroba.jpg (79126 bytes)  peroba closeup.jpg (94770 bytes)  
I was told this is something called peroba, but I'm not positive.  
If you know differently, please drop me a line.
26" tall
 

 

peroba root front.jpg (139926 bytes)  peroba root rightside.jpg (129949 bytes)  peroba root leftside.jpg (127973 bytes)  peroba root back.jpg (97933 bytes)  
I believe this is a peroba root, pictured from different angles.
15" wide, 10" tall
 
 
 
woman carving left side.jpg (119787 bytes)  woman carving right side.jpg (101353 bytes)
Carving of a woman's face
17" tall
Given to me by my parents

 

 

See more knees on my Tom Gaskins Page (if you haven't seen them already)

Here's an interesting website with pictures of hundreds of exotic woods.

 

Go to Collections Main Page

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