Bill Luce Woodturner

Frequently Asked Questions



Q: How is your work done?

A: My work is primarily done on a woodturning lathe, where the wood is mounted, spun, and cut with a variety of hand held knives and gouges.

Q: How do you know if a turning is successful?

A: I feel a turning is successful if the viewer wants to pick up the piece based on its form, finds the piece enjoyable to hold and touch, and upon setting the piece down finds themselves picking it up again.

Q: Were your round-bottomed bowls originally inspired by the traditional Hawaiian Calabash bowls?

A: These forms of mine are not originally derived from the traditional Hawaiian bowls often referred to as calabashes.  I had turned hundreds of these bowl forms before becoming aware of the "calabash", although there are similarities in form between some of my work and some of the  traditional Hawaiian styles of bowls. I feel that this similarity of the lower curve is primarily because of the notion that "form follows function." Much of my early evolution was pursuing purely functional round-bottom bowls.

I turn large round bottomed bowls that are functional art, which I call "Celebration Bowls." I create these heirloom bowls to contribute to a family's celebration of life either as a life-enriching art piece, as a sensual object to hold and contemplate, or as a wonderful extension of a family's festive traditions. In this aspect of my "Celebration" bowls, I am inspired by the magnificent Hawaiian traditions surrounding their large hand carved bowls. I am working to continue that special tradition in the present with my own bowls.

Q: Who are your influences in terms of other woodturners?

A: An early influence on my work was seeing Richard Raffan's turnings in books, and by meeting Richard and discussing with him both his and my own personal aesthetics in regard to bowl form.

I also acknowledge the work of David Ellsworth as an inspiration and influence on my concept of form. Both the embodiment of "line as volume" in his work, as well as his masterful explorations of the relationship of overall form and vessel opening size and opening shape, set the bar very high for those of us that follow.

Q: What is it about round bottomed bowls that makes them a such focus for you?

A:  I am fascinated with round bottomed bowls.  My reasons for devoting so much time and energy to their study include: 1) Closed round bottomed bowls are a very artistically challenging shape to get right as the shape is very unforgiving of weakness in design, or of mistakes.  2) They are very challenging technically (especially on the inside), much more so than a footed open bowl.  3) I believe they are the most flexible vehicle of all bowl shapes, supporting styles from organic to very precise and formal.  4) I can't help it, I couldn't stop exploring them even if I wanted to.

I find it interesting that across most cultures the earliest forms of pottery that have been discovered are very commonly round bottomed.  Probably a principal reason for this is that the flat bottomed vessel had no real advantage functionally until relatively recently when civilizations began to utilize flat surfaces such as tables. A well designed round bottom bowl is actually very stable on a flat surface even when loaded.  It is self-righting and is in reality harder to tip than the more conventional footed bowl. 



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