Background:

Collectively my pieces are known as Tumblers. When I was a boy my best friend's family had a little rock polishing machine in their basement. I don't remember what it was called, but the idea was to put little rocks in it, turn it on and let them tumble around in the barrel of this thing for awhile - hours, days, I've forgotten. Then turn it off and pour out all these shiny smooth rocks of all shapes.

 

Early on after putting a final coat of finish on a wood piece and admiring how shiny and smooth it was it occurred to me that I was looking at a giant version of what we used to so eagerly retrieve from that noisy little machine in my friend's basement. Tumblers.

 

All of the wood that I use for my sculptures comes from trees salvaged here in the Seattle area. I have been all over the place in an old red pickup collecting wood to bring back to my shop where it sits and dries for a long time, sometimes years, before I am able to work it.

 

At times, when I'm feeling especially good about myself and keeping in mind that nothing I can create will match the magic of a living tree, I sort of feel as if I've rescued at least a little of a tree and have given it a new existence by making something out of it that is, hopefully, meaningful somehow.

Thoughts on Wood and Rocks:

I have always found wood to be intriguing. The grain patterns especially appeal to me. Some of it so regular and repeated, while others are just all over the place.

When I initially started doing this, rocks were what I modeled my pieces after. I'm not sure why exactly, but for some reason it makes sense to me to make rocks out of wood. The shapes of rocks and the grain patterns of wood compliment each other well and together make compelling objects.

I have quite a collection of those smooth, palm-of-the-hand sizes rocks people use for landscaping that I pick up while walking around my neighborhood. Now, although I still rely heavily on my collection for ideas and guidance, the work I do is becoming more imagination driven and I'm seeing inspiring ideas in unlikely places.

My Process:

The process of actually making a tumbler is fairly simple yet very labor intensive. It's all done with hand held power tools and can take days, or even weeks depending on size and complexity. I always look forward to starting a new piece but find myself a little nervous at the beginning. I have an idea of what I want and it always looks good in my head, or I have found a rock with some cool geometry going on to use as a model. But getting the image in my mind to appear or that geometry to happen as the wood gets shaped isn't always a smooth process and can lead to some anxious moments as I get to a point in the shaping where I realize that I'm either going to end up with something to be excited about…..or not.

It is then that I have to force myself to slow down, stop and really look at what is happening with the piece and come to some conclusions about how I want to move forward. This is intense visual exploration (that is to say, I stare a lot) and is what really brings me into contact with my work. Some would say it is a dialog happening between me and the wood, but I prefer to think of it more as discovery - if I do this what will happen? What will I see? how will it feel? - kind of thing. I get immense satisfaction watching a piece take shape, watching it unfold and become what I had hoped it would be.

Final Thoughts:

Tumblers aren't about straight lines and perfect circles. They are about good shapes and interesting patterns. Each one is an individual that has no twin. They are meant to be visually pleasing, but to fully appreciate one you have to get your hands on it. They invite a little tactile interaction - something I didn't anticipate when I started making them is how much of a part the sense of feel or touch was going to be to the process. The way a piece ends up feeling to the hand is as important as how it looks to the eye.

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