Thinking with the Wood

Bill prefers to work with American Linden (basswood) for its straight grain, just as the Renaissance master carvers did. But he sometimes carves in white oak, wild cherry, butternut, hickory, and other woods, as well.

Bill especially likes to rescue wood, turning the overlooked or discarded into art. For example, in his hands, the slats and legs of an outcast chair can become Christmas ornaments and nutcracker-inspired figurines. Whether he begins with rescued wood or some he bought specially, he “thinks with” it a while, and so the process begins.

He puts the first form to his ideas by hand roughing the wood or rough-turning it on the lathe. After he shapes wood that will be carved, Bill works the piece with hand tools, giving each wood sculpture a personality all its own. Then he mixes and thins artists’ oils to make stains that tint the wood while allowing the grain to show.

If he is crafting a bowl or a three-dimensional ornament, he works the rough form on a lathe with chisels and gouges, bringing its inherent shape forward. Then he refines the piece and finishes it with meticulous sanding, linseed oiling, and beeswaxing.

Whether carving or turning, Bill lets his imagination, his tools, and the wood connect to produce the distinctively Old World qualities collectors have come to prize.