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Pottery Mom — Functional Clay by Merrilyn Reeves

huckleberry pottery ceramic bowl merrilyn reeves

The leaves and fruit of the Northwest’s wild blueberry are a signature embellishment on Merrilyn Reeve’s Huckleberry Bowl.

Not many women in modern USA boldly call raising a family a career, but potter Merrilyn Reeves isn’t afraid to do so. Years before she embarked upon a second career that is now 33-years in progress and counting, she raised four children on 17 acres in a remote area of rural Idaho. Their nearest neighbors were six miles away. The radio worked in the car, not the house. The deer that interacted with the family’s laying hens, goats, and cattle had to contend with a “rifle packing momma who had to feed her kiddos.”

The last thing on her mind, at that time, was throwing pots.

“Keeping dirty things clean (faces, bottoms, clothes, floors, dishes), food on the table, and clothes on little bodies occupied most of my time and energy,” the Plummer, ID, artist says. It wasn’t until she was on a vacation with her still-young family to Yellowstone and chanced to observe a professional potter plying his craft, that pottery first entered into her heart and hopes.

rice-bowls-pottery-ceramic-chopsticks-merrilyn-reeves

Through the years, Merrilyn Reeves has developed her own special formulas for the glazes she used on her pottery. Blue Rice Bowls with Chopsticks.

“I was mesmerized as I watched him skillfully turn that lump of clay into a recognizable vessel. He was amazing and I was very taken with the process and result.”

She Gave the Pottery Wheel a Whirl

A few years later, she took a class where she sat down at the wheel for the first time, and, literally, gave it a whirl.

“I wore a suit — a poor choice for a pottery class! Prior to that day, the thought that I might be an artist had never entered my mind. I could not imagine doing anything passable with a paint brush.”

Since that memorable day in 1988, Reeves has created hundreds of pots using a wheel very similar to the one on which she threw her first pot. She also experiments with hand building and alternate throwing forms, using porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware clays in a variety of applications. The learning curve, like the wheel itself, is constantly turning, and each project is an opportunity to learn more about the medium: Moisture content in clay varies widely, and if it’s too firm or too soft, it won’t throw right. Glazes, too, are finicky, and must “fit” the particular clay, with both expanding at about the same rate to result in a good, durable glaze without major defects.

oval grass ceramic pottery platter bowl merrilyn reeves

Grass, leaves, and flowers are a favorite embellishment of Merrilyn Reeves to either paint onto the pottery or incorporate via organic materials. Oval Grass Bowl by Merrilyn Reeves.

And despite what Reeves thought, she did learn to use a paintbrush, frequently embellishing pieces with images of leaves and flowers.

God’s Creation Provides the Finishing Touches

“God’s creation provides much inspiration for my pots, particularly in the finishing touches,” Reeves says. “When I need an idea, I am apt to take a walk and see what is growing in the area. The grasses and weeds I collect just may end up on the next generation of my pots. Many items from nature are fun to play with, whether leaves, whole plants, stones or sea shells.

“I have to say that bugs don’t make the grade, and have never ended upon on a pot. Yet.”

Reeves specializes in functional ware, defining each piece as possessing a purpose, which, in part, is determined by the person who “adopts” it.

pottery mugs ceramic merrilyn reeves

Images of wheat embellish a series of pottery mugs by Merrilyn Reeves.

“My goal is to enrich the lives of others with my pots,” she explains. “I give my best to each pot, hoping that it will encourage and brighten someone’s day and life.”

Be Fair and Do What’s Right

This way of approaching pottery, she adds, is an extension of her world view, which is that God created the earth, and He has a plan for each person in it.

“For me His plan included pottery, and He gave me the skill and aptitude for it.

“I guess this is not a popular stance these days, but it should always be in style to do what is right. We should do the best job when making items for others to ‘adopt,’ charging a fair price, and dealing honestly with others. I hope that shows in my work.”

Reeves works from a free-standing studio, separate from the home she shares with her husband Waverley and their two black labs, Rosie and Sasha. The four children resulted in 14 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. The initial pottery class resulted in a business, Wildwood Pottery, where Reeves hand-crafts each piece from start to finish, including the all-important smoothing of the foot so that the finished pot will be kind to any furniture surface it rests upon. It’s these little things, Reeves believes, that aren’t so little after all — whether they are children being raised by a career mom or whether they are one of her signature huckleberry bowls.

“I give careful attention to each step of the process,” Reeves says.

“A person purchasing one of my pots reaps the investment of many hours of my time and care.”

Wenaha GalleryMerrilyn Reeves is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from October 5 through November 1, 2021.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

Dave Ulmen

Art by

Dave Ulmen

More About Dave Ulmen

Spokane woodworker Dave Ulmen focuses upon, crafting cheese, sushi, and cutting boards, as well as coasters, Lazy Susans, and wine waves from laminated hardwood in his Spokane shop. Working with his wife Liz, Ulmen has built a thriving business from what started out as the extension of a lifelong interest.

“I’ve been a tool guy since I was a little kid hanging out in my grandpa’s shop,” Ulmen explains. “After both my parents passed, I had a small estate fund remaining. Since tools had always been important in my family, it seemed a fitting investment.

“When I saw what I could accomplish with a few good tools, I was hooked. My adult kids kept encouraging me to offer some work for sale, which got the ball rolling.”

Dave Ulmen
baltimore albumn quilting embroidered wall hanging patricia bennett christmas fabric art

Quilting with Precision and Love — The Fabric Art of Patricia Bennett

potholders quilting kitchen gift seewing items patricia bennett

Showcasing the quilting and design skills of fabric artist Patricia Bennett, a selection of pot holders comes in many colors and designs

Be creative, be precise, and be patient.

It’s not bad advice for anyone to heed, but if you quilt, it’s crucial.

“Quilting is one form of art that shows mistakes if the piecing is not perfect,” says Patricia Bennett, a textile artist who created her first project — a full gathered skirt — on a treadle sewing machine 58 years ago. Falling in love with sewing from the first moment her feet hit the pedals of the treadle, Bennett has been sewing  since fabric cost $.49 a yard, and she has taught herself, step by step, every inch and yard of the way.

christmas lovers know placemat set quilting sewing fabric patricia bennett

Christmas Lover’s Knot place mat set by Idaho fabric artist Patricia Bennett, showcasing design, piecing, and quilting skills

“I was determined to learn to sew,” the Bayview, ID, artist says. “When I was putting myself through college — majoring in elementary education — I didn’t have money to purchase store-bought clothes. So I rented a sewing machine, started with simple patterns, and the rest is history.”

Sewing, Quilting, and Creating with Love

After her husband bought her her  first sewing machine 50 years ago, Bennett created matching outfits for him, her, and the couple’s two daughters. She later made bridesmaid dresses for each of her daughters’ weddings (“but not the wedding gowns — that would have been too much pressure!”), as well as numerous quilts for family wedding and baby shower gifts. Upon retirement from a teaching career that spanned pre-school to sixth grade, Bennett immersed herself full time in sewing, marketing her work as Cotton Creations: Handmade with Love, which, in addition to quilts, focuses on home decor items like table runners, pot holders, place mat sets, coasters, and tote bags.

Participating in craft fairs throughout the Northwest, Bennett enjoys chatting with customers about her products and sewing in general, and finds that many people want to learn how to quilt, but don’t know the next step.

hawaiian flower placemat set gift quilting patricia bennett sewing

Hawaiian Flower Place Mat set by Patricia Bennett, combining design, color, piecing and quilting — all with precision and expertise

“I always suggest that they start with a small project such as a pot holder, because something like a large bed quilt would cost a great deal of money for the materials, and might discourage someone as it takes a lot of time and patience to finish a quilt. I also suggest that they take a class.”

Through the years, Bennett herself has taught many sewing classes, both formal and informal, and wherever she goes, she finds her teaching skills in as much demand as her  stitchery. And she is most happy to oblige.

Teaching Quilting Wherever She Goes

“I taught my preschoolers to embroider their initials using yarn on burlap.

“I taught sewing when we lived in Virginia to a group of ‘student wives,’ whose husbands were in graduate school at Virginia Tech.

“Teaching 4-H sewing was a challenge, and it was such fun to see the finished outfits in the fashion show at the county fair in Moscow, ID.

A selection of colorful tote bags — featuring an eye for detail and a skill in quilting by Patricia Bennett– beckons the visitor to Wenaha Gallery.

“And when we were in Santiago, Chile, for six months while my husband David taught on a sabbatical from the University of Idaho, I taught quilting to eight Chilean women in the neighborhood: ‘kilting,’ as they pronounced it. Several of these women now have small shops where they sell their creations.

“The day we made table runners, they told me they called them ‘table roads.’ The challenge of teaching with my limited Spanish and hand motions was a great deal of fun.”

Working from a glass-walled studio facing Lake Pend Oreille, Bennett confesses to being unable to throw away fabric, even the smallest scraps, but because she likes to work within a color theme when she makes a set of items, she is unable to use up those scraps in crazy quilts. Helping to solve this problem are her 13 grandchildren, many of whom have learned (or will learn) to hand sew with leftover pieces. Like Bennett herself, all beginners start somewhere: the more they practice, the more perfect they get, and the more perfect they get, the better the finished result.

Quilting Consists of Three Steps

“Quilting really consists of three separate steps, when you’re making a finished wall hanging or quilt,” Bennett explains.

“First is the cutting, which must be accurate, then the piecing is putting the top together (again, carefully and accurately), and finally the quilting is actually putting the front, batting, and backing together by either hand quilting, tying, or machine quilting. The sewing on a quilt is using a 1/4-inch seam allowance!”

baltimore albumn quilting embroidered wall hanging patricia bennett christmas fabric art

In addition to beautiful quilting, the Baltimore Album Christmas wall hanging by Patricia Bennett also feature exquisite embroidery

Creativity, precision and patience: these, plus time, have resulted in a lifetime of developing a skill that gives to every person with whom Bennett shares. She’s come a long way since that first gathered skirt, but she hasn’t forgotten her beginnings. To remind her of those days and that project, Bennett purchased a treadle machine at a New Hampshire auction.

“I don’t sew with it, but it is a nice piece of furniture in my sewing studio, reminding me of my first sewing project.”

Wenaha GalleryPatricia Bennett is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, December 3 through Saturday, December 29, 2018. 

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

farm pig farmstead home decor timberbronze wallowa

Bronze Home Decor — The Functional Artistry of Timber Bronze 53

farm pig farmstead home decor timberbronze wallowa

Farm Pig, home decor bronze doorbell from Timber Bronze 53 of Wallowa, Oregon

The next time you open the kitchen flatware drawer, take a look at the drawer pull.

Is it shaped like a Morel mushroom? Or possibly a mule deer antler? Life doesn’t have to consist of round knobs and square pegs, and for Garrett and Beth Lowe, owners of Timber Bronze 53 in Wallowa, OR, it doesn’t.

morel mushroom bronze home decor drawer pull timberbronze wallowa oregon

Morel Mushroom bronze home decor drawer pull by Timber Bronze of Wallowa, OR.

“We hand craft solid, cast-bronze hardware and decorative accessories for log, timber frame, and other rustic homes,” says Beth. “We’re presently developing a line of farmhouse and rustic chic decor for a growing market.”

Timber Bronze Home Decor

A fifth-generation Wallowa resident, Beth moved back to the area with Garrett five years ago, and the couple looked for a business they could develop and expand in addition to their day jobs at a commercial fueling business in Wallowa. When they discovered Timber Bronze 53, a then ten-year-old company catering to the fast-growing home decor industry, they knew they had found their niche: a blend of art, home design, intense craftsmanship, and potential for continuous advancement.

There was also a huge learning curve, because hand crafting items in bronze — from doorbells to drawer pulls, from custom drapery posts to hat hooks, is not for the dilettante. The couple inherited an inventory of more than 60 different doorbell and knocker styles, plus 80 styles of door and drawer accessories for kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Quite fortunately, the original owner — who put the Lowes through an intense training period covering the processes he had developed over the years — was also extraordinarily organized:

“He included Excel spreadsheets that had everything from a customer’s birthday to how long it should take to put a screw in a hole,” Garrett says.

Wayfair, Amazon, Houzz

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Pine cone bronze home decor doorbell, handcrafted by Timberbronze of Wallowa, OR

Within a short time of taking over the business, Beth and Garrett secured contracts from Wayfair, Houzz, and Amazon, the result of what Garrett calls a combination of chance and social media.

“Our oldest son was messing around with Twitter, I think — maybe Instagram — and somehow whatever he did caught the attention of one of the senior buyers at Wayfair. It wasn’t long after that that Houzz called, and not much longer after that I got a call from Amazon,” Garrett recalls.

“We’ve been quite fortunate.”

But fortune is only part of any human’s story, and Garrett and Beth, the latter who holds a degree in Kitchen and Bath Design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, juggle everything from production to shipping, from marketing to artistic design. Originally housing their business in an old hardware store — “complete with bats, creaky sloping floors and LOTS of character” — the couple presently manufactures out of several former farm buildings, including an old milking barn that also used to house pigs.

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A side view of handcrafted bronze antler drawer pull by Timber Bronze of Wallowa, OR

Creating Bronze Home Decor in an Old Dairy Barn

Oddly, it hosts the perfect temperature-controlled setting, Garrett explains, to create the lost wax castings that are the first part of a multi-step process requiring 5-6 weeks to complete. After creating the cast for a specified item, the couple takes the mold to Valley Bronze, a world-class bronze foundry 25 miles away in Joseph, OR. There begins an eight-step, three-week process to pour the design.

The couple then transports the newly bronzed units back to Wallowa, where they apply a decorative patina adding a deeper richness to the golden hue of the bronze. A protective coating ensures that the items successfully endure heavy or outdoor use.

In addition to selling through Wayfair, Amazon, and Houzz, the Lowes handle increasing orders for reproduction work — pulls for antique furniture — as well as custom design.

“We recently finished a job for a woman in the Midwest that included custom refrigerator, freezer, wine cooler, and dishwasher handles,” Garrett says. “That order also included 8-inch custom-made twig handles and about 100 pine cone knobs.”

Functional Artistry in Bronze Home Decor

So the drawer pull on your kitchen flatware drawer has the potential to not only be useful, but beautiful as well, a functional artistry that adds a unique touch to everyday life. For Garrett and Beth, providing such functional artistry is their unique, customized niche, and they fill it in a signature, distinctive manner.

“I think that just the fact that we strive to work off of solid business principles — not grow too fast, not spend money we don’t need to — things like that help set us apart,” Garrett says.

“We have products that fill a want, need or desire for the client, and we are continuing to branch out and step out somewhere into the unknown. We’re not afraid to tackle new things.”

 

Wenaha Gallery

Garrett and Beth Lowe of Timber Bronze are the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, July 16, 2018, through Saturday, August 11, 2018.  The Lowes will join two other artists, Batik watercolor artist Denise Elizabeth Stone and Joyce Anderson Watercolors, at the Summer Celebration Art Show Saturday, July 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free Artisan Treats will be provided, as well as a free Steve Henderson fine art note card to each visitor. 

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

Handcrafted kitchenware by Walla Walla woodworker Mark Thomas

Natural Beauty: Handcrafted Kitchenware by Mark Thomas

Handcrafted kitchenware by Walla Walla woodworker, Mark Thomas

Handcrafted, natural kitchenware by Walla Walla woodworker, Mark Thomas

Buy local.

Live simply.

Choose natural.

Handcrafted kitchenware by Walla Walla woodworker Mark Thomas

Handcrafted, natural kitchenware by Walla Walla woodworker Mark Thomas

For some people, these are catchy slogans on a social media meme. For others, they are New Year’s resolutions. For woodworker Mark Thomas, they are normal aspects of everyday living. The “Good Life” to which many aspire is not an unreachable dream, requiring complicated formulas and collections of inspirational marketing materials, but rather, it comes about through quiet times in nature, good times with friends, awareness and appreciation for small, ordinary things.

“These things help slow life down,” the Walla Walla artist says.

“I like making things with my hands, including food. Most of the cooking in my household is done by me, and I own quite a few cookbooks.

“I have no formal training, and am not necessarily a good cook, but I enjoy it. I like making utensils that feel good to use, and perform well.”

And therein lays the impetus behind, and inspiration for, Thomas’s hand-crafted, fine art, naturally-based, utilitarian items made from wood: spoons, spatulas, boxes, small furniture pieces, jewelry, phone docks, and kale/herb strippers, this latter one of Thomas’s more enduring and endearing best sellers.

“I’m not sure why,” he confesses.  “Perhaps it is because people love kitchen gadgets and hate picking the leaves off of cilantro. It is the only item that I sit and down and make in large batches.”

Kale and herb strippers by walla walla woodworker Mark Thomas guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Kale and Herb Strippers by Walla Walla woodworker, Mark Thomas, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Working from a studio that consists of half a two-car garage plus a spare room office in the house, Thomas uses the skills he learned as a fine artist — he holds a degree from Wright State University in Dayton, OH — to design ergonomic, comfortable to grasp items that are pleasing in shape, color, and feel. Each piece is as individual as the wood from which it is made, and a successfully finished artwork requires patience, skill, and acumen on the part of its creator.

“Working with a natural material can always be tricky,” Thomas says.

“Since a piece of wood was once a living, growing tree, no two pieces of wood are alike: this forces the craftsman to take special care when using hand tools. A moment of inattention or hurry can ruin a piece.”

At the same time, he adds, the very individuality of the wood inspires the artist to seek out its beauties and strengths.

Although Thomas has harvested and seasoned wood for use, he prefers to spend his time actively working the wood, and to this end, shops locally at Jensen Hardwoods in Walla Walla. Maple, cherry, and walnut are favorite choices for his kitchenware, all of which are finished by a customized recipe he created from sesame oil and beeswax, this last sourced from Octopus Garden Honey in Dayton, WA. Hours of research and multiple small batches resulted in a finish cream that not only protects the woodwork, but makes the hands happy as well.

Handcrafted wooden bracelets by walla walla woodworker Mark Thomas guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Handcrafted wooden bracelets by Walla Walla woodworker Mark Thomas, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

“Using the finish seems to keep my hands tough and calloused without being rough, scratchy, or leathery,” Thomas says.

“I cannot vouch for any medicinal properties of sesame oil or beeswax, but I have had numerous cancer patients say that it is the best thing they have found for treating the rashes on their hands from chemo.”

During the warmer months, Thomas shows and sells his work at the downtown Walla Walla Farmers Market, as well as the Richland Farmers Market on the Parkway. He also travels to craft shows in the Tri-Cities, Portland, Seattle and Spokane.

Describing his creative process as “rather varied,” Thomas explains that he is constantly trying new ideas, developing different designs, gently teasing new shapes and forms from the inspiration of each wood’s highly individual grain. The result is not just another spoon, but a spoon like no other spoon on earth. It is as individual as the person wielding it.

“I believe that finely handcrafted objects and the use of natural materials are important,” Thomas says.

“The work itself is very honest, and the finished objects tell the story of what the craftsman put into them.”

Wenaha GalleryMark Thomas is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, January 2, through Saturday, January 28.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit the gallery today!

A hand-thrown pottery Brie baker, with curled handle, by Rose Quirk

Timeless Fashion: The Functional Pottery of Rose Quirk

A curved, hand-built pottery platter by Rose Quirk, Wenaha Gallery guest artist from Richland, WA

A curved, hand-built pottery platter by Rose Quirk, Wenaha Gallery guest artist from Richland, WA

Human beings are not machines.

Sounds sort of obvious, doesn’t it? While the statement would make a fine social media meme — short, punchy, rhyming, and good for a share or two and 7.5 seconds of fractured reflection — it makes a point well  worth comprehending:

Human beings are not machines.

A hand-thrown pottery Brie baker, with curled handle, by Rose Quirk

A hand-thrown pottery Brie baker, with curled handle, by Rose Quirk

And when those human beings are artists, creating items with their very human, very skilled hands, the resulting craftsmanship is not designed to be found, shrink-wrapped, in a child’s meal.

“Each piece I create is unique, handmade, and even pieces that are part of a set can be different,” says Rose Quirk, a ceramic artist from Richland who specializes in functional wheel-thrown and hand built pottery.

“Mugs are slightly different sizes; the glaze on each piece is unique and has its own personality. This is both wonderful, and challenging.”

Consider, for example, a stack of dinner dishes, she adds. They must, and do, stack evenly, but part of their singular, unparalleled charm is that they do not look like precisely the same piece, eight times over. Before approaching the wheel, Quirk meticulously weighs out the clay, apportioning an equal amount for each item. One after another a plate is shaped on the wheel, guided by steady hands that, after more than 20 years, know what “feels” right. A ruler measures and confirms the final step. The resulting dinnerware, while close in size and shape, is far from being a clone.

Fractured Fish ceramic wall art by Rose Quirk

Fractured Fish ceramic wall art by Rose Quirk

“Because each piece is hand-formed, there’s not going to be that exactness that you get in commercial pottery,” Quirk explains. “There are ways to control it without using a mold, but you can’t control it exactly,” nor should this be the driving focus.

“You can go to Walmart and buy a mug for a dollar, but when you spend $25 or $30 on a hand-thrown mug, you appreciate the aspect of its being hand-thrown.”

Such attention to detail, in conjunction with an understanding that nothing is 100 percent predictable, reflect the duality of Quirk’s professional background: a biochemist who has worked for medical and pharmaceutical firms throughout the nation, Quirk concurrently pursued her interest in pottery. Upon moving to Washington State with her husband (“I think we’re here permanently, now”), Quirk focused her attention on the art side of things.

Interior and exterior views of large pottery serving bowls by Rose Quirk

Interior and exterior views of large pottery serving bowls by Rose Quirk

“Science and art have frequently gone hand in hand for me,” Quirk says. “There is a strong correlation between the visualization skills needed to see and understand chemical elements and molecules and the art of creating a three-dimensional piece of pottery.”

Precision, experimentation, observation, research, creativity — a host of elements come to play as Quirk works in her 500-square foot home studio, where half the room is devoted to throwing and firing clay (“This can be quite messy . . . “) and the other half is devoted to finishing, including the addition of embellishments such as collage and fiber.

With an eye on food an entertainment trends, Quirk combs through Pinterest for ideas, which she then transforms into signature, trendy pieces of timeless appeal: a delicately curved, hand-formed platter to hold hors d’oeuvres and finger foods; a shallow dish for creamy Brie cheese; a gently sloping, texturized serving bowl that looks as good everyday on the coffee table as it does in the middle of a holiday gathering. The glazes are rich, warm, earth-toned, and perpetually in vogue.

Celestial Dream ceramic wall art by Richland, WA artist Rose Quirk

Celestial Dream ceramic wall art by Richland, WA artist Rose Quirk

“My art is in kitchens all across the Mid-Columbia,” Quirk says. “It is to be handled, used and enjoyed every day.”

A member of the Allied Arts Association in Richland, Quirk is a longtime board member who serves as the Featured Artist Chairperson, responsible for setting up and managing the exhibits that rotate through the facility’s 1800 square feet of gallery space. In 2015, she was honored by receiving the coveted Szulinski Award, recognizing artists who have distinguished themselves by their excellence of craftsmanship in a three-dimensional medium.

Such recognition is always positive, but for Quirk, an even greater joy is the creation of her work,  melding science with art, and finding that harmonious balance of individuality with congruity. An achievement like this, she notes, is lasting success.

“It has always been my goal to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind, functional pieces.”

Wenaha GalleryRose Quirk is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, June 20 through Saturday, July 16.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

The Incredibly Hardworking, and Beautiful, Lazy Susan — Granite Art by Terry Hoon

Black flecks and tan lines create a pattern across a white-based, granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon

Black flecks and tan lines create a pattern across a white-based, granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon

This is the story of a man, an aggregation of igneous rock, and a fictitious household servant who would have lived, if she existed, in the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

The man’s name is Terry Hoon, a lifetime resident of Dayton who is presently retired from the seed processing department at Seneca. At one time, he wrangled as a steer wrestler for the Walla Walla Community College Rodeo Team.

A background of dark green is enhanced by lighter tones of tan and grey. Granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon.

A background of dark green is enhanced by lighter tones of tan and grey. Granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon.

The aggregation of rock is granite, what is called an “intrusive rock,” meaning that it is crystallized when molten material — magma — flows, cools, and solidifies underground. Many of us associate it with high-end kitchen counter tops, and we are drawn to its myriad colors, which the Minerals Education Coalition describes as pink or red (from feldspar), dark brown or black (from mica), clear pink, white, or black (from quartz).

And the servant? Her name is Susan, and despite being known for her indolence — Lazy Susan — she is surprisingly ubiquitous and useful: she is a revolving stand, made of wood, stone,  or other elements, that we set in the middle of the table (to hold condiments), next to the bathroom sink (to hold personal care items), inside a cupboard, or basically anyplace where we have a number of disparate items that we want to easily reach. Indeed, so serviceable is the Lazy Susan, that it seems unkind to denigrate her so.

And so, in this story, we don’t.

The man, Terry Hoon, was visiting his youngest daughter when he saw a Lazy Susan, crafted from granite, on the table. Inspired by its beauty, he went home and made one, and then, because he had a variety of granite available to him, he made another, and another. As useful as Lazy Susans are, however, one can only use so many of them, so he began to give his shaped, polished, and shining creations to friends and family. Eventually, they convinced him to get serious about selling his rock artwork.

With smooth polished edges, this black granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with gold-colored highlights

With smooth polished edges, this black granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with gold-colored highlights

“I got started with some rock given to me by a friend, and now I have a distributor that I work with,” Hoon says. “I choose the pieces that interest me and haul them home myself.”

From there, the rock’s final shape is determined by a chisel or a rock saw, depending upon whether Hoon wants a jagged, craggy edge or a smooth, polished one. Many times, the rock makes the final decision, splitting where it splits, and following a natural line that is not evident until pressure is applied. Each piece is as unique and beautiful as the granite itself, which, come to think of it, is a good way to view other human beings — like servants, for example, whether or not they live in the 17th century or today, and regardless of their appellation.

Almost coal black, this granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with lighter highlights

Almost coal black, this granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with lighter highlights

“It’s a great mystery,” where the name comes from, according to Sarah Coffin, head of product design and decorative arts department at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, in an interview with L.A. Times writer, Bettijane Levine.

Probably created as a replacement for diminishing household help, Lazy Susans may have found their permanent name through a 1917 Vanity Fair advertisement for Ovington’s, a no longer extant New York department store. The 16-inch, mahogany table top tray mounted on ball bearings is described as follows:

“$8.50 forever seems an impossibly low wage for a good servant; and yet here you are; Lazy Susan, the cleverest waitress in the world, at your service!”

And so she continues to be, in an age when familiarity with household servants, for most people, extends to characters in Masterpiece Theater’s Upstairs, Downstairs, or Downton Abbey. But all of us can own a Lazy Susan, and thanks to Hoon, she can be elegant, tough, classy, artistic, unique, serviceable, and extremely hardworking as well.

“I choose the pieces of rock that appeal to me,” Hoon says. “I just pick what I think is pretty.”

Pretty. That’s such a better  description than “lazy.”

Wenaha GalleryTerry Hoon is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, February 22 through Saturday, March 26.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.