I have developed
techniques that allow me to produce a finer degree of surface detail than I have
seen before in sandblasted wood. My intended effect is sometimes
subtle, but in cases like the second bowl below it results in a very
wonderful statement that simply doesn't tell the whole story at once.
internal structure of this piece of maple burl has been dramatically revealed by
extensive carving away of the surface. Then the piece is bleached to
enhance that texture. In this case the degree of detail exposed in the wood is
reduced somewhat by the bleaching process, which is unavoidable.
details in the wood are brought out by careful blasting on this madrone burl piece.
The carving process is very time consuming, but to me well the worth the effort.
The degree of detail gives the viewer more to see the closer they look.
This subtle texture also alters the way the piece feels in the hand, as well as
changing the sound that the surface makes when touched. I never got tired
of holding this piece while it was still in the studio.
In my ongoing series the
"Bones of the Tree" the internal structure of the wood-the bones -is
more completely revealed. In this more dramatic work, wood between the
grain lines is totally removed and the skeleton of the bowls remain.
Following are some examples, although the series now includes a wider range of
types of pieces than
solely tradition vessels as shown here.
Please note: You can find some of my most recent pieces in this
series through the Featured Piece
page. I have not yet moved those images to this page.
Arrowhead, a Skeleton Bowl from "Bones of the Tree" series.
The essence of the bowl is revealed.
Small footed skeleton bowl with vertical ribs.
Another footed skeleton bowl with very vertical ribs.
Round bottomed skeleton bowl.
The idea of a skeleton bowl came to me in summer of 2002 while
looking at the striking grain pattern in a bowl I had just sandblasted.
The idea percolated in my head until early 2003, when I first
began to seriously explore the basic concept in various hard and soft woods
using every type of blasting medium imaginable. The basic idea is
easy, the devil is in the details. It took me months of
trials just to
find a combination of wood and techniques that seemed promising enough
to focus on. Progress was fairly slow because the work is very time
consuming, and suitable material is difficult to find. But even at that
early stage the
concept was proving so exciting that I added a room to my studio dedicated to a wide range of sandblasting
and sand carving equipment and activities.
Envisioning and implementing these "skeleton bowls" involves additional dimensions of design and compromise. All design
requires compromise, but revealing the actual internal structure - the
bones - of the tree provides challenges all its own when combined with the goal of
creating a piece that is successful overall. For example, I create
the form before I completely "see" the exact internal pattern
sometimes, once fully exposed, variations in
internal structure clash with certain elements of the overall
I had already been a serious student of wood patterns as they relate
to vessel form for a number of years before this series, but this series
has changed the way I view wood grain. I now, without thinking of
it and in fact not able to turn it off completely, see wood and vessels
with sort of X ray vision. I see possible completed pieces, and
the incredible range of choices I have to expose and present the
internal structure into a coherent vessel.
One real challenge in this series is the amount of time involved in
each of these pieces (as well as the risk of loss during the intense
process). Even though the sandcarving can be quite aggressive
(read risky), some vessels have consumed as many as 60 hours of blasting
simply due to the hundreds of sections of material that must be removed.
So the ideas come much faster than the ability and time to implement
allows me. I constantly push to improve both the concept and
techniques, but there is only so many hours in a day. I am still
very excited about this series after having the first vision in 2002,
and it continues to reinvent itself for me afresh.