...beyond the purely functional.

Michael Mode is a full-time lathe artist, producing one of a kind bowls and vessels in exotic woods, many of which feature lamination designs in contrasting colors. In 2004 a client commissioned him to produce a large, wall-mounted abacus, fully functional, but with laminated beads and accents in Mode's unique style.

After some study of abaci, Mode first created a proto-type, named Abracadabacus. He then went on to the much larger Rosenblit abacus with some design changes, notably the corner ornamentation, actually inverted bowls cut out and fastened around the corners of the case. The beads in the large abacus measure about three inches in diameter, and it is wall-mounted with the beads moving side to side. Mode completed the two abaci in a little over a month.

Note: Click each thumbnail to enlarge the photo and see the details up-close.

  • Rosenblit Abacus

    Rosenblit Abacus: This abacus is about 56 inches in length and the beads are about 3 inches in diameter.

  • Rosenbilt abacus detail

    Rosenblit Abacus Detail: Woods used are: wenge (dark brown), bloodwood (red), yellowheart (yellow), purpleheart (purple) and chakte-viga (yellow orange). The beads were created by laminating long bars of the various woods arrayed in a pattern, then cutting off blocks and hand turning them to shape on a wood lathe. They slide on bronze rods.

  • Rosenblit Abacus detail

    Rosenblit Abacus Detail: another view of the abacus.

  • Abracadabacus

    Abracadabacus: This abacus is 28 inches in length. It is constructed of bloodwood (red), holly (white), wenge (dark brown), yellowheart (yellow); the case is painted birch plywood.

  • Abracadabacus Detail 1

    Abracadabacus Detail 1: A close-up of a corner. The curved projections on each corner were originally one star-shaped object turned to shape on a lathe then cut apart and attached to the case.

  • Abracadabacus Detail 2

    Abracadabacus Detail 2: A close-up of the beads. The beads are about one inch in diameter, and this abacus was also designed to hang on a wall as a means of display while still allowing it to function. All of the natural wood parts are finished with a french polish done with shellac, which is Mode's usual finish for his art objects.