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Design in woodturning can be identified in several ways. There is the basic and inherent design of symmetry and roundness that results from the use of the lathe. Alternately, there is the application and refinement of existing design styles, such as Scandinavian Modern in the works of Rude Osolnik and Bob Stocksdale. Precision and a minimalist esthetic characterize another type of design in which the form is cleansed of its woodiness. This can be seen in the works of Hans Weissflog, Maria Van Kesteren, Merryll Saylan and James Prestini. Conversely, nature’s irregularities have also created a design vocabulary for woodturning. Mel and Mark Lindquist stand as exemplars of this school of thought in which the burl, root, and knot—the unusable portions for furniture makers—are elevated to fine art. Lastly, many designs are created to exploit and enhance the grain in a woodturning, such as William Hunter’s Kinetic Rhythms whose carved spirals beautifully offsets the striped patterns of the cocobolo wood.
Ron Fleming, a woodturner and accomplished carver, demonstrates carving methods on the surface of a large vessel in this featured clip. His talent is evident in the drawings he uses as guidelines on the surface, coupled with his ability to sculpt the two-dimensional line into elegantly carved relief in the body of his vessels.
William Hunter’s Fast Grass is featured in this three dimensional depiction. Use the mouse to turn the object around. Viewing this object as it rotates recalls the woodturning process itself, as well as the elegance of the object’s shape.
Johannes Michelson uses a unique process of turning wearable cowboy hats on the lathe. Each hat is crafted to specific dimensions. Here, he shows how using a light inside the hat allows him to turn the top of the hat without accidentally cutting through the thin layer of wood.
Rude Osolnik is known for his tapered candlesticks that echo Scandinavian Modern design principles. Click on the video clip to the left/right to watch Osolnik’s method of turning these remarkable objects. You will see the candlestick take shape as Osolnik scrapes away the surface and creates the fragile neck of the candlestick.