I have been working with wood from the time I could crawl around my dad’s shop and pound nails. Over the years, worldly distractions including a career as a dermatology physician allowed only brief but passionate excursions back into the sensual realm of wood with stop offs at furniture making, wind harps and a cedar strip canoe.
Several years ago I had to cut down some large trees to make room for my shop and became entranced with their majesty. How in the world do these enormously heavy, vertical, branched structures remain upright without falling over with the slightest breeze or under the weight of snow-covered branches! My small tractor could hardly move them. The realization that their rootedness in the earth allowed nutrients to course up through their veins and in turn enabled them to reach toward the sky and wave at the clouds left me in awe. Remorse that I had halted their celebration of life brought a wish to make amends. A destiny as firewood or decaying fibers seemed an unfitting testimony to their elegance. So I decided to learn woodturning to transform them into beautiful objects as a fitting memorial and an ongoing reminder of one of Nature’s most amazing gifts to us and the earth.
Each piece of rough lumber presents a beautiful mystery waiting to emerge on the lathe. My mission is to interfere as little as possible with the hidden natural gem and to allow each unique grain pattern a voice. The eventual shape, like the grain, is mostly based on the wood’s orientation within the log. I incorporate many curves, both in the overall shape and in the rim and finer elements, to further showcase the changing grain patterns. They are revealed as multilayered facets in the reflected light, adding to the richness and depth of experiencing the wood. Sometimes, the wood is allowed to warp and twist to defy the lathe’s uniform symmetry! A sensual and visual symphony takes form and asks to be touched and held. All the finer concave edges emerge polished only after careful hand-sanding, so their subtlety and crisp edges are preserved and enhanced. Vessels suitable as vases or drinking “glasses”, including tankards and mugs, are lined with food-safe epoxy and are meant to be used. Bowls of all sorts can also be used for food, though some have natural voids that discourage liquids.