2009 Bowls

Nine multi-hollow servers were created in 2009. Numbers 1-4 are carved from a single plank of Tennessee sassafras. These are a continuation of ideas explored with the 2008 3-D Studies. They are about 3/16-inch thicker and therefore more substantial. Numbers 5 and 6 are American elm -- from my in-laws in south-west Wisconsin. Number 7 is carved from a walnut cut-off (a scrap) that I didn’t want to throw away. Numbers 8 and 9 are Tennessee sassafras, this time considerably thicker. Both of these come from a waney (natural sided) plank.

In 2009 I explored some possibilities for looser, freer shapes for the larger hollows. The photo of Number 8 in progress shows how I use a flexible drawing curve to experiment with different configurations directly on the bowl blank.

During this period the hollows became more curvilinear and irregular. This tends to give the hollows the appearance of an organic or bio-morphic origin. At the same time the exterior outline and the undersides of each piece tended to use more straight elements. This results in an exterior shape that may appear to be crystalline in nature. There are no set or golden rules of proportion here. But there is a consistency – an improvised language -- which is adhered to.

By combining bio-morphic and crystalline qualities the pieces become somewhat mysterious. What is the origin of these objects? Are they something that could (almost) be found in nature? In any case, they must look right.

Inspiration for each piece came quickly, with the basic design usually taking form in less than one hour. However, every element of each piece is carefully considered and detailed during the carving process. Perhaps half of my work time in each piece goes into physical carving. The other half is more meditative -- studying the server and making minute adjustments as required. And sometimes rather radical changes are required in mid-process. The quality aimed for is something that is authentic, like a weathered rock, a piece of fruit, or a random view in the mountains.

Numbers 1-4 are all double hollow servers with one major hollow and the other considerably smaller. Perhaps for serving a main dish with a side condiment.

With Number 5 the smaller hollow (which often resembles something like a negative fruit or nut form) begins to get something added, maybe resembling the stem of a leaf. In the remaining pieces this form began to morph into a marine motif. Shells or fish perhaps.

Now a comment going back to the first multi-hollow servers from 2007. From this beginning I was exploring outline shapes for the hollows that often don’t self connect at the ends. (They are open, like when you draw a circle very quickly. To be honest, I was inspired by the Nike running shoe brand “swish.” ) The loose ends of the circle are then closed with a perpendicular slash that drops downwards into the sides and towards the bottom of the hollow. This creates a step (or a notch) in the shape. For lack of a better term I call this formation a cut-away drop.

On 2009 Number 6 the terminal endings of the cut-away drops begin to approach each other on the floor of the large hollow. Then, for Number 7 I allowed the ends of the cut-away drops to co-join. In this piece it becomes an extension of the merged hollows theme from 2008. With Numbers 8 and 9 the extended cut-away drop is a design element within the single large hollow. At the bottom of the hollow the cut-away ends reverse – the higher plane drops and the lower plane rises. Why? I don’t know. But it appears to be the right thing to do.

On the sassafras blank for Number 8 the bark had almost entirely come loose before carving was started. The remaining inner bark is now painted with 2 coats of black acrylic. The bark on one side of Number 9 is intact and has been stabilized with very thin restoration epoxy. It is still fragile and therefore needs to be handled (displayed, used or stored) with some extra care.

The servers created in 2009 do not have titles, except for their number designation, which is in the order of their creation. Each is signed DL and dated ’12 using the kolrossing single knife cut technique and finely ground coffee as the end-grain filler. All of these pieces are finished with a 3:1 mixture of cold pressed flax seed oil and citrus peel solvent.