Although I have been a woodworker for over thirty years, I only began woodturning in earnest about thirteen years ago. Shortly after developing my interest in woodturning I had the good fortune to attend a workshop mentored by David Ellsworth, probably America’s most famous woodturner. Subsequently, I attended another of his workshops as well as his Masters workshop. David not only teaches technique, but design, philosophy, and a sort-of oneness with the wood. All of these I have tried to integrate into my work.
All the objects I produce are from local woods, Poplar, Maple, Cherry, Ash, Walnut, Oak, etc. All of the wood is acquired from neighbors who have to remove a tree, landscapers’ junkyards, the roadside, and so on.
I seldom have a clear idea of what I am going to make when I start out. Occasionally, when chain sawing a piece of wood down to a workable size, certain aspects of the piece will suggest an object: a bowl, a platter, an urn, a vase, or a hollow form. Often, however, it is only after the piece of wood has been on the lathe and turning has started that more detail is revealed. Grain pattern, knots, defects, fungus staining, bark inclusions can then be seen and my final plan can be developed.
My goal is to design a form that brings out the beauty of the wood and highlights the interesting aspects of the particular piece of wood. Hopefully, you will think you are seeing some of the successes. Be assured there are many disasters. All of my pieces are turned while the wood is still wet. As a result, the shape of the form distorts somewhat as the wood dries. I feel that this often adds interest to the piece as it prevents the finished product from always being perfectly round. I add very few embellishments such as carving, staining, coloring, or painting, usually using only a preservative coat of oil or lacquer.
My final goal is that the wood, with its attributes and defects, speaks for itself as an object of interest.