Friday, March 25, 2011

Mesmerizing Maple Burl

Valley weather is something sure to keep one’s mind alive to all that it has to offer. We started the week off in the high 70’s and will end it in the 50’s. Calm balmy days to horrific wind storms oh my! Studio doors wide open to rekindling the old “Defiant” again.  Debbie, wife of The WoodArt Studio artist Steve, as she is known in some inner circles, took advantage of the pleasant outside climate and planted a row of onions and two rows of lettuce in the garden. Gathering of kindling wood is an on going project for the next winter season and is a pleasure to do as we traverse through the property always on the lookout for another pretty piece of wood that could be carved or turned into the next bowl or spoon.       

Oh the joyous wonders that comes out from the studio. Amongst the many things that we packed into the 32 foot trailer that had shipped from NY to VA was wood. Cocobolo, Maple, Cedar, thank you Maryann & John, Ebony, Cherry, Cottonwood Bark and Maple Burls just to name a few..

Today I want to introduce you to Maple Burl. A tree growth that has a grain growing in a deformed manner will become what is known as a burl and can quite often but not always be found to grow on the trunk or branch of the tree. Because highly figured burls are hard to find they are a captured prize for the woodturner. Steve was lucky with this piece that traveled with us to VA. Burl wood is very hard to work with on the lathe or with hand tools because its grain is misshapen and not straight. Patience was a virtue in this case, for what started out as a lump of burl was transformed into this mesmerizing bowl.

#305 Maple Burl

Mounted on the lathe it was first turned down to its basic shape, while still keeping the natural edge. Sanding on the lathe was done next. Once it was removed fine hand sanding is done with a coat of food safe oil in between each rubbing. Finally the finished piece (9 ½ x 3”, at its highest edge) created just for you. It is so finely crafted that I wanted to keep it but Steve said NO! So to market we go unless you want to own it first. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and that is why I only posted one picture otherwise this would become a short story instead of a blog post. So if you want to see more email me at or see us at the market.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Flying Wood Chips

Good morning faithful followers. Let’s see what a week it has been. Woke up on Monday morning and thought that I heard a cow in our backyard space. Later in the day I receive an email from our neighbor who asked if we saw any cows in our backyard as the fence fell down from a fallen tree and some of the cows had gotten through. Well at least we are not having cow dreams.

#425 Push-Pull Sample

Out in the studio wood chips, large wood chips, were flying from the end of the chisel as a new piece was started. Seems that it will be all hand carved and no lathe this time. Sharing with you the design will come later after the work is done. He did bring in a finished Box Elder bowl (see the picture of it in the Studio Gallery) and a candlestick which I have to say is awesome. We had a run on the Push-pulls so more of them went into production. They make a great gift for anyone who likes to cook or for those of you who just want to stop burning your arms on the hot oven. It hooks on one end of the rack, you pull it out, when you are done just flip the stick over and push the grate back in.

Thursday came and it was a beautiful day outside so we worked on some of the trees that had fallen down from the last wind storm. Now that we have more wood cut for the stove we will probably never need to fire up the Defiant (yes that is the name of the studio woodstove) ever again. More bowls were rough turned and the new mini ladle was finished. Friday brings the Mt. Crawford auction to the plate. You never know what goodies you can find. I am on the hunt for some real cheap mirrors to place under the bowls so that it will reflect the beauty on the underside of the piece.

So such was the week and it looks like we are heading into a nice weekend. Market in the morning and “Starry Starry Night” Gala at OASIS Art Gallery tomorrow from 7-9:30. Two turned ornaments donated from The WoodArt Studio for the silent auction.

Have a creative week and see you next Friday.

Friday, March 11, 2011

To Market, To Market To Find a New Spoon

So it’s Friday, National Worship Your Tools Day. Gosh is there really a day to celebrate that? We have fun with chisels and a lathe everyday.

If my memory serves me correctly I think there are several bowls in the midst of different turning stages and at least a spoon or two being carved. The surprises that can emerge from a chunk of wood can sometimes seem unbelievable. So tomorrow being Saturday, oh and by the way it is national Plant a Flower Day, we have market in the morning. I hear rumor from the weatherman that it is to be a pleasant day so why not head down to the market in the Valley for your weekend shopping event. I am sure that there will be plenty of fresh veggies to buy along with the traditional baked goods. While you are there dreaming of how to arrange them all into a fine stew why not stop by our booth and pick up a new hand carved wooden spoon for yourself. There will be a new one added to the already wonderful collection that we show. This one is carefully formed out of a piece of Virginia Walnut that came off of the property. Perfect in length for stirring that stew that you planned on making. No stew tonight? Well then how about some oatmeal to stir tomorrow? Either way you will love it. See you tomorrow, but for today…let’s go and worship some tools.

Oh, oh, oh I am hoping to switch the blog to a Friday event instead of a Monday. Do you dear blog readers have a preference?

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Dream Takes Shape

March is here and with that Spring will be arriving. It has been what I would call a mild Virginia winter, but then I have to say that this has been our first full complete winter in Virginia.

The later part of winter 2010 was spent building the inside of the studio. In fact at that time there was no The WoodArt Studio, there was only a dream and an empty shell of a studio. Walls, insulation, electricity and placement of equipment was an everyday occurrence during the cold pre-spring months of 2010. There was no heat in that building back then so work was dependent upon the outside weather even though we were banging nails on inside walls. By late spring it was to become a working studio complete with major machinery in place and a long work bench along the eastern wall. Chisels, sandpaper, finishing oils could now be all laid with easy reach.

Spring 2010 had arrived and with that the beautiful weather the Valley has to offer. The garage door could be opened up and work could be done with all of the natural lighting that the day had to offer. Wood was turning and chips were flying. Bowls, spoons, spirit houses were being constructed all in preparation of our future patrons.

The dream was becoming the reality and in July 2010 The WoodArt Studio was born. That same month brought The WoodArt Studio to facebook with its own page so don't forget to check it out there. As soon as we figure out how to add the link from here to there that will be done also. Learning, learning. Last week launched our blog/website here and today the second post. So there you have it, the cliff note version of The WoodArt Studio. More to come so tune in again.

What's really happening today you may ask? Well the woodstove, that was added to the shop in the heat of August 2010 is fired up and warming the inside of the studio. Wood was just picked up from one of our dear friends and transported to the studio with the help of our neighbor, Jerry. Fresh coffee has been brewed and soon curly chips will be flying at The WoodArt Studio again and another ??? will be created.