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Friday, January 29, 2010


Welcome to the Timberturner / Bowlwood blog. I'm Ray Asselin, a woodturner in Western Massachusetts, a scenic and beautiful part of New England.

This blog is associated with my two woodturning sites:

-  Bowlwood  (http://www.bowlwood.com/

- and on Etsy (the home of "all things handmade"), www.timberturner.com


As a woodturner, I have a few purposes and goals. Primarily, turning gives me a means of creative expression. I've always worked with my hands, but not always in a particularly artistic or creative way. Turning allows me to shape things in ways that please me and that naturally appeal to me. Gradually converting a raw chunk of log into a finished piece is a process I enjoy.

The natural world has always been a draw for me, and I feel rooted (pardon the pun) in the forests of my "home range". There is no other place for me that could be home. And so, I thoroughly enjoy exploring the woods and hills around me.

Trees, for some reason, hold a fascination I can't easily explain. I suppose it's their grand stature, wide variability, strength, stability, longevity, and structure that appeal to me. But there's also a range of other values: food (ie, fruits, nuts); shade in the hot summers; scented flowers; den and nest sites for birds and mammals; fuel; shelter from wind; serenity of the forest. Even the silhouette of a tree against the moonlit night sky is something I find very appealing and intriguing.

And, of course, when a tree's life is over, it really lives on in the lasting wooden products we fashion from it. So another of woodturning's purposes for me is to explore the fascinating diversity of wood species- to see what stuff each type of tree is made of, and its inherent beauty in a finished piece.

A third attraction that turning presents me is simply the joy of the hunt for new species I haven't yet turned, and for those special, unique, variations in wood structure (such as burls, figured grain, etc) that can emerge from the lathe as such beautiful art.

When you consider how much trees and their wood provide humankind, it's difficult to come up with any other aspect of nature that can compare. There's an old poem called "Prayer of a Tree" from the book "Spanish Sunshine" by Elinor Elsner, circa 1925, which was a notice found on a tree in a park in Seville, Spain; it sums up the gifts that trees give us ...

To The Wayfarer

Ye who pass by and would raise your hand against me, harken ere you harm me.
I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights, the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun.
My fruits are refreshing draughts, quenching your thirst as you journey on.
I am the beam which holds your house,
the board of your table,
the bed on which you lie,
and the timbers of your boat.
I am the handle of your hoe, the door of your homestead, the wood of your cradle, the shell of your coffin.
I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty.
Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer; harm me not.

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