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Oak Burl Hollow Form

I design and produce all my items in my Montvale, NJ USA studio

Reading Wood

This Oak Burl Hollow Form is 7 inches in diameter and 4 inches tall. A  friend had a huge oak tree cut down threatening his Victorian home.  He told me to come over for some wood. When the tree cutter learned that I was a wood turner he hand picked several logs which he said that would make me very happy.  This was early in my journey and it was a surprise that someone could know that there was something special about a particular section of a tree. This is when I became aware of how to look at wood logs and being able the choose wood with incredible textures, bark inclusions, burl formations and other features. Take a look at the swirls and patterns in the photo which are typical of Oak Burl.

Ellsworth Contribution

The style of this piece is a Hollow Form.  Master Wood Turner, David Ellsworth invented this for wood turning.  It is a form that glass blowers and ceramists practice.  David, a student of ceramics thought it would be possible to make this shape with wood. The challenge is that wood turning is a process which removes material. Ceramics and glass add material and can be manipulated by moving the material around. With a block of wood the turner cannot make the block larger or make it fluid. David devised special tools that enter a small hole and remove material from the inside. The turner cannot see the cutting process and learning this technique requires practice and patience.

What is a Hollow Form?

The Oak Burl Hollow Form in the above photo is has an opening at the top that is smaller than the diameter of the piece.  The goal is to make the opening as small as possible. Hook shape tools enter a small hole while the Maker directs the tool towards the side walls. The cutting process takes place as the wood revolves at high speed and the artist cannot see what is happening. It takes practice and experience not to break through the wall. With constant measuring and a specific sound the Maker is aware of progress. The goal is to finish the piece with a thin with an even thickness walls. 

From Utility to Art Form

This process credited to David is revolutionary and changed woodturning which was producing utilitarian items like bowls to creating wood art and sculpture on a lathe. Ellsworth openly shares this technique and it is a known fact that if you ask a wood turner how they make something they will share their knowledge with you. This is not so true in other crafts. Ask a jeweler how they made their piece and chances are they will not share their technique.

Here is a link to another hollow form piece Dragonfly Hollow Form Vase


I design and produce all  my items in my Montvale, New Jersey, USA studio.


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