A FATHER & DAUGHTER WOOD TURNING PASSION
Featured in the above picture, is my father, Michael Wallace & I’m Jessica. Together we make up the dynamic duo (holy wood shavings Batman) that is Wallace Wood Studio. My dad is the talent & soul behind our team and I’m the paperwork sidekick. However, according to dad I’m not only the business-side, but also the brains. All joking aside, we are both extremely committed to this labor of love ~ our father~daughter business of turning wood in the heart of Coastal New England!
As a small & very young business, we are humbled to have come so far in the past year. Launched in late 2019, just prior to the onset of Covid, we took a chance soon after I announced I needed a new career and dad suggested I manage the selling of his wood-turnings on Etsy.
At the time I was a part-time PA and an MBA student looking for experience in real-world management. Dad, was then & is now, a full-time Production Supervisor at a leading supply company for many industries, including aerospace, car racing, automotive & medical equipment.
Dad has been woodworking for as long as I’ve known him and he excels at it. My very first rocking chair was made by my dad and just this Christmas, I gave it to my son. My dad has had a lifetime (my lifetime) of experience, allowing for the creation of so many amazing pieces, such as bowls (both decorative & useable), vases , bud vases, ornaments, spindles for furniture & more!
I so enjoy watching my dad or any wood turner for that matter, do their thing. The sight & smell of the wood shavings is, for me, a therapeutic experience. I’m truly honored and humbled to be apart of my dad’s passion and artful journey!
There are so many facets to our business but our core foundation consists of standing on the premise of recycling, reusing and salvaging. We use almost entirely 100 % salvaged, recycled or repurposed wood supplies which include mostly trees fallen in storms, trimmings & yard clean-ups around the New England area. Much of the cherry wood used over the past few years came from a fallen tree, downed in the 2018 Tornado in Cheshire, CT. Dad loves working with his hands, turning each piece with care, revealing a different unique story which unfolds as his creations come to completion. Recycled wood, means we are eco friendly, obtaining wood that has met the end of one life. We find wood that can be used again and give it another life....a new life!
Often, our pieces resemble what some might call Rustic-chic. These pieces, I feel, embrace the natural perfection of flaws, unique grains, colors & even burls of fungus (yes even fungus is beautiful!). We welcome whatever the wood has to offer and showcase each piece’s individual character, Bringing new Life to Salvaged Wood! So now that you can hopefully feel our passion for wood turning, I’d like to dive deeper into what it is and how it is done.
WHAT IS WOODTURNING?
So what is woodturning? Why, I’m so glad you asked! It seems self explanatory, however, many don’t know the ins & outs of what it takes to be a dedicated wood turner, or what kind of equipment and tools you use to do it; of course, that is understandable. I too was unfamiliar with all things woodturning prior to starting our business.
I’m here to share all of my knowledge, although limited (dad’s the real pro), of this seemingly rediscovered and somewhat recently explosive craft. It is actually an ancient art, introduced and embraced by the Egyptians from as far back as approximately 1300 B.C.. Not only did they create the first lathe but they also developed the first wood finish & varnish. Without their woodworking prowess, WOODTURNING may not exist today.
Wood is a wonderful medium that allows for unique, functional & beautiful objects to be made with various styles & techniques which have been passed down for centuries.
SO, WHAT DO YOU NEED?
Tools..., lots of tools & equipment. Primarily, one requires a lathe (an electrical one), unlike the Egyptians who required a two-person lathe whereby one person spun the lathe with a rope while the second carved the spinning wood with an ancient tool; modern-day wood turners are afforded the luxury of a switch!
With a flip of a switch, you are off and running!
Um, not so fast! The carving tools used to get the job done are important and choosing the right ones is key to a successful and happy finished project & piece. They consist of knives, gouges and chisels. Other tools like wire, burning irons and more can be employed to impart fine detail and additional character. Your tools will vary, depending on the type of turning you are doing. Faceplate turning, for wooden bowls is as the name suggests, open-faced and requires different size gouges such as The Deep Flute which shapes the inside & outside of the bowl and The Bottom Feeder which is used for the inside. Spindle turning (for projects such as pepper mills & pens), is accomplished between two centers and requires a different set of tools, including a skew chisel and a parting tool.
After your Wood choice has been made you must secure your wood blank to your Chuck, which is the wheel-like apparatus that spins your wood. Woods are spun as the crafter carves aesthetically appealing shapes which are symmetrical around the axis of rotation. Similar to the Potter’s wheel, the lathe is simple in mechanics but difficult to master.
It requires skill, years of practice and an adept hand & eye to create masterful pieces.
HOW DO YOU CREATE APPEALING WORK?
Simply, the rule of thirds. It is a mathematical employment of engineering for art, buildings and more. It divides pieces, photographs, etc.., evenly into thirds to give it not only that structurally sound look but that sharp, eye catching, oooh, ahhhh reaction. With lathe-work, this rule applies much more so to vases and other more complicated works. The rule of fifths can also be utilized in the same manner. Before you start any project, it is important to have an idea of where you are going and these rules can help you get there successfully. Of course, we never underestimate the beauty and value of an asymmetrical piece of art that dares to break these rules. Rules aren’t for everybody after all..
Woodturning is an art and as with any other, it is up to the artist to create it through their own eyes. In the beginning, functionality and purpose allowed the Egyptians to sustain this craft, however today, we can marry function, form and artful decor all in one!Jessica & Michael