Bola Ties and Surprises
Joe Monks

I have two favourite subjects’ hummingbirds and bald eagles, hummingbirds have brought me the most recognition but it is eagles that have given me the most excitement, monetary benefit and pleasure.

When I first quit working full time as an engineer, a career that took me on trouble shooting assignments to almost every corner of the world, I supplemented my part time income selling marquetry at wood carving shows; eagles were by far the best seller.

In the Western United States bola ties are extremely popular and when I took my first eagle bola tie to a wood carving show it was an instant success.

I was able, by limiting the number I made, never repeating a design and keeping the quality high, to demand high prices.

For a typical bola tie as shown here I used a walnut burl for the background and the feathers were bleached maple, the tips were carved from a walnut dowel with a simple inlay added and in the centre lengthwise I used a brass rod to prevent breakage.

The cords I braided with six thongs of goat skin, some special ones were braised with twelve thongs, the main part was a round braid with the centre changed to a flat braid in order to provide a comfortable fit behind the collar.

An example of Joe's Bola Tie

Joe's Eagle picture number 1

I always wore an eagle bola and was often amazed by how frequently I was stopped and asked about my tie that I took to carrying business cards with me to hand out;
this led to a surprising experience.

Surprise experience number 1.

While on vacation in Colorado a lady stopped me, told me how much she admired my tie and that her husband loved eagles. I gave her a business card and thought no more about it. Five years later I got a phone call, would I make an eagle bola for her husband.

Surprise experience number 2.

A wood carver friend of mine who always wore one of my ties, was hiking in a very remote part of Yosemite National Park and ran into a stranger whose opening remark was “You must know Joe Monks, you’re wearing one of his ties and so am I”

It brought to mind the oft quoted “Doctor Livingstone I Presume”

I t was at this time, that I realized I had made all this effort photographing eagles, drawing up designs from my photographs and doing the marquetry but I had nothing to show for it apart from some extra cash.

I did however still have all the designs, so I decided to use them to make something that I could keep for myself.

I selected four of my designs and from them made a pair of pictures.

When the cutting was completed I was thinking of how to mount them when I realised that the Suede leather I had been using to line boxes was very close to the same colour as the background veneer and so I used it to edge the two pictures.

The colour is very close so it is just the texture that changes and I think it is very effective.

I keep the pair hung in a prominent place and every time I look at them I’m reminded of good times and good friends.

Joe's Eagle picture number 2

The two Eagle pictures displayed together

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