I also agreed to do a Winter Staff for another friend on commission, though these don't have a specific brief. But I figured a dead wood look would be good. So I wandered off into the local coppice and the first thing I found was this, lying in a ditch at the side. It had a nice crooked end but that made me think 'winter staff' but it shattered with a pull so it was clearly a bit rotten. The rest was strong, and nicely dry so I immediately nicked it and headed back.
The first thing I had to do was get rid of the dead bark. At first I tried whittling the old fashioned way. Then I decided that was a pain and I was on a time limit here so I used one of those rotary sandpaper things you stick in a drill. Which still took a couple of days to finish, and wore through the hole thing, but it revealed this interesting effect I'm told is called spalting, and a (harmless) result of fungus.
Unfortunately the spalting all but disappeared with the first coat of dark oak wood stain. That did leave it a gorgeous golden brown but it wasn't the colour I wanted for a Winter Staff, so I gave it another three
Then I engraved the runes I was asked to put on it, polished it up and gave it the fabric wraps. The end result was gorgeous and I was really sad to let it go - especially at mate's rates! Hopefully I can find more sticks as good as this one.