“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”, William Morris 1834-1896
My Tree Turned Treasures are both useful and beautiful. Each morning as I fill my handmade maple bowl with cereal I am reminded that unlike art, craft must be functional. Unlike an abstract painting, no one has to guess the meaning of an urn. But within the constraints of material (woodturning is always subtracting, never adding), process (everything must be round), and form (there are limits to what can be safely mounted onto a lathe), there is room for a great amount of creativity.
My father was a printer. From him I acquired my appreciation for manual labor. Mastering the use of chisels and gouges and scrapers is the way I find value and self worth. As the tools glide over the surfaces and forms begin to take shape the pieces come alive. I look at each completed project and find all my mistakes and all the ways I could have made it better. I also marvel at the beauty of this medium. Wood is beautiful. With a modicum of skill anything made from wood is beautiful. And every piece of wood is unique.
About 8% of working people produce all the stuff we need to survive – food, shelter, medical care, etc. So what do the rest of the working people do? We could be artists, craftspeople, musicians, and all the other creative endeavors that give us a sense of self worth and give our society something of value. But instead we live in a “consumer economy”. We make useless stuff and sell it to each other. We move money around. We move electrons around in amusing ways. I would come home from work and wonder, what did I do today that had value (other than earn money to keep my family fed and sheltered). Crafts give value back to society and meaning to the lives of craftspeople. When I buy something handmade I know something special happened.
Sorry, this was supposed to be a description of what I make. I make a lot of bowls. Bowls are tricky because half the time I am cutting with the grain and half the time against the grain. I also make hollow forms. These ancient vessels have been used for storage since the beginning of civilization. These include urns, containers, round boxes, etc. I’ve been experimenting with off-axis turnings like candle sticks. I make toys for my grandchildren and bottle stops for my wine loving friends. I let the wood tell me what it wants to be.
All my Tree Turned Treasures use recycled wood from the urban environment. These trees and limbs naturally fall or have to be removed because they create a hazard. My sources of wood are you, my friends and neighbors, some arborists, and other turners. I never use wood purchased from lumber yards or exotic woods. I strongly believe in preserving our forests, their ecosystems, and their wildlife for ourselves and future generations. To support this work I donate 10% of all sales proceeds to Forests Forever, an organization devoted to preserving our forests.