So far, I have scrubbed it in the sink to remove dirt. I then soaked it for several days in a weak solution of bleach and water. It was in a large garbage can for that step! I then took it out, rinsed it again and set it on the front porch to dry for a week or so.
I brought it in the house about a week ago and let it acclimate to my studio, where it dried even more. Today I took it to the garage and started applying a walnut poly-stain. Here are a few photos of the progress:
I am letting it dry a bit before going back out to turn it upside down. Then I will cover more area with the poly-stain. This is actually a root from a shrub we had at the old house in San Jose. It had died maybe ten years ago I think. The bush top was cut off at grade level and the root sat in dirt for all those years. As we were getting the house ready to sell, we did some landscaping. When hubby dug this root out in order to neaten up the area, I asked if we could keep it! There is something about the wild tangle of this root that appeals to me. :)
I still am calling it my tree though...even if it really was upside down in real life!