It comes from the wood itself as I experience it coming alive on the lathe by cutting away the unwanted parts to find the desired heart of the piece, much as a sculptor would use chisel and mallet to fashion his contours.
Some imitate Native American weavings, others come from my wife’s quilt design wall; in some spalted woods I see Smoky Mountain sunsets in ever-changing light. I often sketch a new design after a visit to an art museum. A drawing of the solar system suggested one of my blocks that uses planet-like circles. Patterns are constantly swimming around in my head.
Yes. The turnings pictured in my website Showroom are unique and may already be sold. However I keep good records and can often replicate a piece very much like the one pictured.
I use a numeric system to track my product catalog, including a sketch of a bowl’s silhouette, its dimensions, and all the woods I used in its production. This allows me to make a very close reproduction. Your bowl would never be exactly the same. You may like the bowl’s overall design, but would like me to use the woods of your choice. I do a lot of custom work. (See below and my Terms of Service)
Producing a segmented bowl is a very long process. I first turn a bottom section (sometimes laminated from many pieces). Then I begin constructing a middle section: I build each block in the design individually. I build the section by glueing precision cuts of these blocks into a 360 degree ring, held together by a giant rubber band. I set it aside to dry. I pre-assemble many of these rings in different designs and stock them away, ready to attach to a previously-turned turned bottom. When a middle section is glued securely to the bottom section and completely dry, I turn this new assembly on my lathe. To this I glue a new previously-assembled multi-block ring to serve as a rim, and allow it to dry completely. Next I place the entire assembly back on the lathe for final turning and finishing. So, I have a number of bowls in process at a time, usually 8-10. If I’m at the point of the final finishing step, I can sometimes finish 8-10 bowls in one day. So, it’s almost impossible to say how long just one bowl takes.
All of my work is food-safe and functional. I employ sanding sealer to fill the cells of the wood and stabilize the piece. I use NO stains or dyes at all; all colors you see in my work are natural wood colors. My signature low-gloss finish is a combination of beeswax and oil. The final application of 4 light coats of Waterlox ®, a tung oil derivative, makes the piece waterproof and food-safe.
Simply wash by hand with mild dish detergent and water and dry thoroughly. Don’t let liquids stand for a long time. Occasionally you may want to refresh the finish with a coat of light, food-grade mineral oil easily found in a pharmacy or grocery. (Do not use vegetable oil to refresh the finish. It’s OK for salad dressing, but not to condition your bowl or platter.) NEVER put a bowl or platter in a dishwasher! NEVER put a bowl or platter in a microwave oven. With good care, following these easy instructions, your bowl or platter will last indefinitely to become a family heirloom to be passed down through generations.
Black Walnut, Cherry, Maple, Poplar, Oak, Hickory, I harvest from my own 10 acres bordering Winchester Creek, in Haywood County, NC. I buy some native woods and exotics, like Purpleheart, Yellowheart, and Osage Orange. Much of my stock comes from the waste bins of other woodworkers–like Brazilian Cherry, Spanish Cedar, Bloodwood, Pink Ivory, Ambrosia Maple, Wenge and Iroka. I’m always looking for Burls of any species, for their amazing grain and patterning. Because I can make good use of small leftovers, I often get pieces of hard-to-find exotics like Asian Palm, Snakewood, Ebony, Marblewood, or Zebrawood from other turners.
One of my customers delivered her own Oak to my shop. It was harvested from her family’s home place where her many family generations had lived. She ordered bowls and platters for each of her 4 grown children, as forever keepsakes, symbolizing their heritage. She hoped they would pass them along to their own children eventually. I thoroughly enjoyed crafting this very special order, especially when I saw how much they like my results.
I teach woodturning, including segmented turning, in my shop in Waynesville, North Carolina. I also sell pen blanks, wood cuts, pre-assembled segmented rings and blocks. Just call me @828-421-2693 to discuss your interests and supply needs. I often trade segmented turning lessons for shop-time my students invest, working for me, cutting and assembling parts.
A customer might like the shape of a bowl, but want it done in different woods, or alternately, like the contrasting woods I used, but want a different bowl style. Some love a bowl’s design but want it much larger to serve more guests. My platters can be made larger than those seen in the Showroom, or of different wood species. I often sell a special gift bowl, like a wedding gift salad bowl, then later my customer returns to order individual smaller serving bowls for a special 1st anniversary gift. That happens frequently.
My Lazy Susans can be custom-ordered up to 36″ in diameter and fitted with special heavy-duty hardware, if needed, for larger dining tables or buffets. A favorite special order came from a restaurant chef in Asheville, NC. He admired the 2″-thick, natural-edge Cherry Burl Cutting Boards, but wanted a very large one. He ordered the largest I could find in the next 6 months, willing to wait. It seems he caters many special holiday events-Thanksgiving, Christmas, Holiday Parties- wanted to feature it as a “seasonally-decorative” centerpiece for his spread of breads and cheeses. To his delight-I was happy to provide one about 35″ in length and hand-delivered it. A great deal of satisfaction as owner and craftsman of Winchester Woodworks comes from that sort of customer response.
I made mention of the nostalgic customer who provided her own Oak for me to create special-order heirlooms for her family. That was one of my best custom orders ever. Just know that I am very open to any special needs you made have, and am willing to work with you, if at all possible.
All custom orders require at least partial pre-payment before I begin.
The prices you see do NOT include shipping, handling, or insurance charges. Those charges will be added when your order ships. I usually ship with the U.S. Postal Service, since it is the most reasonable in cost. At your request I can ship UPS, if you require faster or special services. Prices for my products are subject to change without notice.