Using a lathe, which spins the wood, and a variety of sharp hand tools such as gouges, skews and scrapers, I create both functional pieces and sculptural forms from stumps, logs and burls. I use woods that are native to Florida and other areas of the U.S. as well as exotic woods from around the world.
I typically have 30 to 40 species of wood in my shop, most of which is salvaged from the side of the road, recycled from local tree trimmers, or purchased through various sources. Preferred Florida woods include Mahogany, Mango, Norfolk Island Pine, Sapodilla, Loquat and others. Many of my more sculptural vessels are turned from Manzanita, a naturally red-toned, sub-terrain burl found in the mountains of the western U.S. Exotics, such as African Wenge, Brazilian Bloodwood, and Snakewood from Surinam offer rich colors and grain patterns, ideal for individual pieces or for use as inlay. Of particular interest are woods that have developed unique characteristics in their aging process. Wormholes and spalting (the fine, dark lines that appear as wood starts to decay) create exciting challenges in woodturning.
I never use stains but rather various oil finishes, to bring out the natural beauty of the wood. Many of my pieces will have some form of inlay such as slices of burl wood, brass, silver or semi-precious stones (lapis lazuli, malachite, coral, turquoise, onyx, and mother of pearl). I also use dyes on select woods, where the grain patterns are lost in the blandness of the wood (i.e., fruit woods and other very light woods) and on woods with strong natural colors to highlight them. By layering blue, red, green and yellow dyes in specific ways, these woods are brought to life and given an almost glass-like appearance.
The unique properties of all types of wood intrigue me, and the more I learn, the more intrigued I become. The natural grain of the wood tells a story about the tree’s original structure and hardness. The grain and knot patterns emerge as the wood is turned, and very often, surprising colors are also revealed. The greatest challenge is creating a piece with the right combination of wood(s), shape, texture, inlay and finish. No two pieces will ever be the same.
As an active member of the Palm Beach County Woodturners Club (PBCW) since 2002, I have enjoyed a beneficial affinity with the nearly 100 members, whose passion is woodturning. As a former board member, I have helped to direct the club in its mission to advance the art and craft of woodturning, primarily through education and improving turners’ skills. Following Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, I led one of the PBCW teams in the Heart of Mounts project, which produced 100 turned pieces from the downed trees to be used as gifts for pledged donations. The project raised more than $16,000 for Mounts Botanical Gardens to help them rebuild.
Locally, my work can be found in the Museum Store at the Cornell Art Museum at Old School Square, Delray Beach and in the Gift Shop at the Lighthouse Art Center Gallery, Tequesta. My work is in private collections across the U.S. Over the years I have been honored to have pieces used as official gifts by Delray Beach delegations to our Sister Cities in Miyazu, Japan and Moshe, Tanzania.
I participate with the Palm Beach Woodturners Club in the Mounts Botanical Garden Spring and Fall Shows and with the South Florida Woodturners at the annual Fairchild Gardens Ramble (Miami).