Don McIvor

Woodturner

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Woodturning starts with one of two kinds of journeys. Either I have a very specific end point in mind that I would like to reach, or I let the wood take me where it wants to go. Both approaches have their own rewards, but the latter seems more organic and interactive to me, a dialogue between turner and raw material.

The process of starting with a typically unpromising chunk of a tree, which might otherwise land in the wood stove or the land fill, and reducing the form to its essential core delights me every time. It's the story of the ugly duckling, the diamond in the rough polished and brought to light. It is not the least bit unusual for me to drag home some moldering, decrepit, and unpromising chunk of wood with visions of grandeur associated with the treasure hidden beneath the grime. My wife has perfected politely-raised eyebrows and, along with feigned interest, trusts my instincts. I never really know what I'm going to find, but the interplay of light and form and grain is always intriguing.

Depending on the species and the luck of the draw, some individual trees can live for more than a thousand years. During its lifetime a tree provides shelter and food for a lot of lives. I like the idea that turning wood into an object that can be handed down for many more generations honors the long life of the tree that came before the bowl or plate or whatever I create. The idea of honoring the wood is one that takes different forms in different cultures, but it is a uniting theme among people who are lucky enough to get to work with this terrific medium.