Finding Inspiration in Wood

Ebb & Flow ©2013 bronze, nickel, brass
Ebb & Flow (detail) ©2013 bronze, nickel, brass

As you’ve probably noticed, I have been focused more and more lately on creating pieces with holes in them. It began with my Memento series, then the net pieces, and it really took off with this year’s Super Bowl, Ebb & Flow. Since February I have continued to make pieces inspired by the openwork in that bowl.

I’ve been wanting to make some taller vessels as well. Unfortunately I am limited by torch size and arm strength and had yet to figure out a way to change the shape of bowls into taller, thinner pieces. Then along came an article in American Craft magazine about wood worker Michael Bauermeister.

Cellular © Michael Bauermeister 46x16x10 maple, tinted lacquer

He has these amazing wooden vessels that were so similar to ones I was imagining in my head. He also had these fabulous flat wall pieces that have a texture that I sometimes bring into my formed work. But the best part was when he described how he creates these tall, thin, holey vessels –

To build a vessel, Bauermeister stacks and glues together layers of wood, hollowing out the inside as he goes.


Why can’t I build my vessels taller piece by piece? It wouldn’t be the exact same technique, but it got my ideas flowing. I could work each piece separately – making torch size irrelevant – and then rivet it all together. So I’ve been working through some designs in my head to work on later in the studio.

So it goes to show, one way to keep your ideas fresh is to look at a different media, different technique, or different genre (if you’re a writer.) It could lead your mind in new directions.

3 thoughts on “Finding Inspiration in Wood

  1. Would love to see how you work that out ! I too am challenged by larger pieces and at times by the lack of larger equipment. Right now I am trying to work out a way to do mid sized pieces in repousse but its going to be challenging as I don’t have a large frame of pitch. 😦


  2. Nayna – What about using a different medium to chase in? I’ve heard that you can use microcrystalline wax or hot glue (once it’s cooled down). Maybe something like that would work for larger pieces?


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