I have worked in wood for over 60 years. At the age of 12- my grandfather gave me an old hammer, a rusty saw, a brace with a few drill bits, and a bucket of rusty nails. The local grocer provided wood orange crates and I designed and built several styles of birdhouses that sold quickly. With the profits I bought my first tool, a used scroll saw, and made all types of decorative items and chess sets.
To support myself at Lincoln Christian University I worked as a finish carpenter and continued to expand my repertoire. After graduation from seminary I served as a pastor and to supplement my income I started G&A Cabinets. You would have found my cabinets and display cases in the atrium shops at the Indianapolis Hyatt. Later I taught myself to turn and started experimenting with turning all types of vessels and jewelry.
My first preference of material is Indiana wood from trees that have fallen due to age, disease, or weather. To me every piece of wood I pick up is already a piece of art. The natural beauty of flamed walnut, a turning block from the crotch of a cherry tree, or a maple burl cannot be improved on. My passion is to display that art in an artistic manner. I rarely use stains but work to preserve natural color and figure.
Lately I have experimented with Baltic birch plywood scrapes I obtain from a pattern company in Indianapolis that would have ended in the landfill. Taking advantage of the ply’s I have produced endless designs.
When I am creating a decorative piece, I will see the finished product in my mind. I have on occasion drawn the image to scale, but most of the time I rely only on my memory and the image in my mind.
I will view the wood from every angle to determine what form will best display its natural attributes I will then see the object to be bought out of the wood in my mind and go to work. Even when I create a segmented piece, I will give careful consideration as to how the exposed grains will match or contrast.
I have struggled with the question, is it art or craftsmanship? Both a craftsman and artist must master techniques. I think a craftsman takes someone else’s plan and reproduces it and art comes from somewhere within. An artist creates from his or her own imagination. I think being creative with the medium of wood keeps me young and healthy.