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gun boxes magnet handles ron jackson

Wood Master — Artisan Woodworking by Ron Jackson

wood maple rocking chair furniture ron jackson

On the porch or in the living room, the handcrafted maple wood rocking chair by Ron Jackson invites the visitor to sit a spell.

Here’s your riddle for the day:

What is natural, renewable, sustainable, and recyclable that comes in an array of hues and densities? You can do everything from build a ship out of it to crafting a box. It rhymes with good, hood, should and could. And . . . it begins with w.

“My wife Dianne and I craft furniture and wood accessories that allow wood’s natural beauty to speak for itself,” says Ron Jackson of Walla Walla.

“The diversity of grains, color, figure and light reflectance make appealing visuals. Wood items are tactile. The warmth of wood feels good to the hand.”

small jewel box wood with feet ron jackson

Ron Jackson’s small jewel box with feet incorporates various woods in its tops, sides, feet, and handle.

Jackson, who began working with the answer to the riddle 67 years ago while in junior high school, has been involved with trees, somehow and in some way, all his life. Primarily self-taught, he credits his working at the Walla Walla Whitehouse Crawford sash, door, and cabinet shop in the early 1960s as the foundation for his knowledge of his medium. And while he hasn’t built a schooner (yet), he has designed and constructed three homes — including the couple’s “forever” home that they have lived in for 30 years — as well as filled that home with furniture and cabinetry of his own making.

Learning Woodworking by Salvaging Trees

“My woodworking education took a significant leap when, with a partner, we started a business salvaging hardwood trees,” Jackson explains.

“We milled the trees into lumber and sold the resulting lumber. We shipped the wood to users as far away as New York and Hawaii.

“The learning curve associated with the process of falling, hauling, milling and drying hardwood to successfully obtain an end product that did justice to this region’s beautiful hardwoods was substantial.

“The knowledge obtained from this process has helped me become a better woodworker.”

bloodroot jarra wood tall box jewelry drawers ron jackson

The Tall Box by Ron Jackson is made from Bubinga Wood. Slices from the bloodroot plant rest on top and as a cover to the drawers.

Now theoretically retired, Jackson spends his days in his 450 square foot shop, where he creates commissioned work for clients throughout the country. He also crafts small things — boxes, charcuterie boards, jewelry and hobby boxes — that he sells at gift stores, craft shows, and Wenaha Gallery in Dayton. Working from a stock of hardwoods primarily salvaged from trees in eastern Washington and Oregon, Jackson mixes and matches walnut, mahogany, maple, yew, Bubinga, and even something called Bloodroot and Jarra into his one of a kind, always evolving creations. He incorporates inlay, mortise and tenon, tongue and groove and other methods of blending and design, taking advantage of the different colors and textures of the wood.

Boxes and Boards for Guns and Cheese

Especially popular are his gun boxes, which stay locked until opened with a magnet, decoratively hidden within a separate wooden handle.

“Wives whose husbands own guns and keep them beside their beds especially like these,” he says. “In the middle of the night if you think you hear something, the last thing you want to do is turn on the light and fumble with a combination lock. The magnet is quiet and quick.”

Boxes of any sort fascinate Jackson. They are perfect for experimenting with new techniques and finishes on a small scale before incorporating them into larger pieces.

gun boxes magnet handles ron jackson

An assortment of gun boxes with decorative, magnet handle openers, by Ron Jackson

“I enjoy making boxes for a variety of reasons:

“They have a purpose. They take a reasonable time to make and are a great way to use special pieces of wood. The opportunity they offer to experiment with artistic ideas is great.”

And they make great gifts. Who doesn’t have small treasures that fit perfectly into a decorative box?

A Living Tree, and Then Its Wood

For Jackson, wood is a treasure of the earth that has a long and productive life: first as the tree that draws nourishment from the ground and gives back to its landscape, then, when that life is over, as a raw material transformed into items of beauty, usefulness, and artisan skill. It’s neither joke nor riddle that wood is natural, renewable, sustainable, and recyclable in a way that few materials are, and its versatility in its afterlife is limited only by the imagination and skill of the person working with it.

“In collaboration with my wife, Dianne, our work seeks to express the order and diversity of nature fused with people’s need for functional furniture and accessories,” Jackson says.

“The fascinating thing about working with wood is there’s always something else to learn.”

Wenaha GalleryRon Jackson is the featured Art Event artists from June 15 to July 12.

Contact Wenaha 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.

 

maple burl clock wood pendulum time leonard mcreary

Time to Create: Clocks by Leonard McCreary

maple burl clock wood pendulum time leonard mcreary

Maple Burl Clock with Pendulum, an elegant way to keep time, by Leonard McCreary

Time.

With the advent of a New Year, it is always a . . . timely subject. Like the air we breathe, time is not something that can be conglomerated, hoarded, or created out of nothing. No matter who we are, or who we think we are, we are given a limited supply.

And then there are trees. When it comes to time, they tend to enjoy a greater chunk of it than humans do. Sequoia, yew, Bristlecone pine — these have lived in the low to mid thousands of years. But even trees reach the end of their time, and when they do, Leonard McCreary has a means of keeping them going:

He makes clocks out of them.

clocks wood maple walnut time leonard mccreary

An array of clocks in maple and walnut, by Leonard McCreary

The Salem, OR, artist has been working around wood for most of his 88 years, having worked as a logger and road builder with artistry on the side. He started making clocks 40 years ago.

Clocking Time in the Workshop

“The father of a ‘kid’ I worked with in the woods gave me a 4′ x 7′ piece of redwood burl. I made a table out of it. After that, I discovered making clocks.

“Most of the wood I use is either cedar, maple, or black walnut, and I cut most of it myself when I was clearing land.”

The wood itself is integral to determining the shape of the finished clock. A cross section cut from the felled tree, each clock reflects the unique shaping that time and weather, environment and circumstances played upon the stem and main wooden axis of the tree. One looks like a bursting star in walnut; another, burled maple, features a swinging pendulum in the midst of a hole in the wood. Still another looked so much like the state of Washington that it wound up being so.

maple burl wooden clock time leonard mccreary

Shaped like a heart, a maple burl clock shows a richness of texture and color, reflecting the life of the tree. By Leonard McCreary

Working out of a shop at his home, McCreary says that the sanding process is time intensive, and when he has brought the shaped piece to a state of perfection, he coats the wood with resin to add a shine.

Each Tree Is Unique

In addition to clocks, McCreary continues to make tables, and later added birdhouses to his repertoire. For years, he sold his work at the Saturday market in Salem, as well as a clock store in Sisters, OR. He wouldn’t describe his clock-making as a labor of love, because it’s not so much work as creative joy. Each piece is as unique as the tree from which it comes, and what it eventually results into being is the result of a “conversation” between McCreary and the wood. Trees, like people, are most interesting when they are most individual.

It is time well spent, McCreary feels. Now retired from logging and road building, he enjoys focused time on creating clocks, and appreciates that there is no hurry about the process. Time is something well worth savoring, appreciating, and using for good purposes.

How we spend it, makes a difference.

Wenaha GalleryLeonard McCreary is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from December 29, 2020, through January 25, 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.

 

cheese sushi cutting boards hardwood coasters dave ulmen spokane woodworking

The Cutting Edge of Woodworking Art by Dave Ulmen

cheese sushi cutting boards hardwood coasters dave ulmen spokane woodworking

Sushi, cheese, and cutting boards, as well as hardwood coasters by woodworking artist Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

Wood is amazing stuff.

It comes in a variety of neutrals, tans, browns, and even purples. With common sense and lack of greed, it is sustainably harvestable. And in the hands of a skilled woodworking artist, wood is an elegant medium for creating sculpture as well as artisan items we use every day, from wine stoppers to treasure boxes, from bowls to cutting boards.

woodworking hardwood coasters home decor dave ulmen spokane

A collection of hardwood, handcrafted coasters by woodworking artisan Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

It is these latter — cutting boards — that 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.”

The Woodworking Studio

His dad and grandpa, Ulmen says, would be delighted with his woodworking studio — which started out in a garage and grew into custom built shop — and tools. And while his tools are newer, shinier, and dependent upon electricity, what they represent remains the same:

“There is the satisfaction of creating an interesting and useful object that is pleasing to the eye and gentle to the hand,” Ulmen says.

wine waves hardwood woodworking coasters decor dave ulmen spokane

Wine Waves, with their signature curvature, and hardwood coasters by woodworking artist Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

This is what Ulmen has been doing since 2005, when he launched Dave Ulmen Woods while both he and Liz were still working full time as teachers – he in 7th grade language arts, she in elementary gifted ed. (He describes their teaching careers, from which they fully retired in 2015, as a combined 71 years in crafting skills and critical thinking, “even more rewarding than our woodworking — and that’s saying a great deal.”)

Purchasing hardwood from local distributors a hefty pickup load at a time, Ulmen designs boards with the grain and unique coloration of individual hardwoods in mind. He and Liz saw, joint, glue, sand, finish and oil the completed boards, with each woodworking product passing through their hands multiple times. The wine waves, which incorporate bits and pieces (“post production materials”) into a signature curve, vie with the cutting boards for popularity.

Handcrafted Woodworking Art Sold throughout the Northwest

Ulmen sells his work throughout the Pacific Northwest in numerous gift shops and galleries, including Made in Washington stores; The Highlight Gallery in Mendocino, CA; The Real Mother Goose at the Portland, OR, International Airport; Northwest Handmade Gallery in Sandpoint, ID; and Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, WA. He has shipped to customers in more than 20 states, throughout Europe, and in Canada. In 2007, Made in Washington stores named him Artist of the Year.

“I took great pride in that because it was an acknowledgement of the quality of work, in combination with excellent service provided.”

As a testament to that commitment to quality, Ulmen and Liz still own, and use, the first cutting board they made.

sushi cheese cutting boards hardwood woodworking dave ulmen gifts

Sushi, cheese and cutting boards by woodworking artisan, Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

“We just rinse it, wipe it to damp/dry, and stand it on edge to finish drying. We recommend a beeswax/oil emulsion be applied from time to time which we also make and can supply.

“Never soak a wood cutting board!”

Woodworking and Life

In some ways, the properties of wood — its sustainability, its variety, and its connection to the earth and to the past — mirror Ullmen’s own experience in woodworking. He always knew that somehow, he would follow his grandpa’s and father’s interest in and skill with a material that has been part of humankind’s experience ever since there were trees.

“I knew I had the right background to become a woodworker when the time was right,” Ulmen says.

“After raising a few sons of my own, raising a home of our own, and raising a few grey hairs as a middle school teacher, I have been blessed with the opportunity to do my own woodworking.”

It took time to fulfill the dream, but then again, everything about wood, from the growing of trees to the crafting of functional items of beauty, takes time as well.

But it was well worth the wait, Ulmen says, to fulfill a dream he has had “since I ran my fingers through that soft and silky sawdust in Grandpa’s shop when I wasn’t tall enough to reach much else.”

Wenaha GalleryDave Ulmen is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, December 31 through Saturday, January 26, 2019.

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.

 

 

A Connoisseur of Trees and Wood — the Hand-Carved Sculpture of Jordan Henderson

Carved goat in cherry wood by Wenaha Gallery artist Jordan Henderson

Goat in Cherry Wood by Wenaha Artist Jordan Henderson.

Sustainability: it’s contemporary, fashionable, sensible, and beautiful, and for woodcarver Jordan Henderson of JDC Woodcarving, there is an art to doing it right.

“I source all of my wood locally,” the Dayton, WA artist explains, “People contact me regularly to let me know that a tree has blown down, and am I interested in the wood? Sometimes they drive up — in the night — and leave the wood by the studio. It’s an unusual, but pleasant, surprise in the morning, and most of the mystery is figuring out who brought the wood.

Carved wood sculpture portrait in cottonwood by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson

Portrait in Cottonwood, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

“I have acquired some really unusual pieces for sculpture this way — my favorite is locust, but I’ve worked with lilac, cherry, walnut, oak, white pine. We are fortunate to live in an area with a lot of trees.”

From a block of wood, Jordan uses hand and power tools to tease out the animal, or the plant, or Viking warrior, that is hidden there, waiting for him to create it into existence. The son of Dayton painter Steve Henderson, Jordan learned to draw as a child, and he uses this skill extensively in making preliminary sketches for each piece.

“I study the subject from all sides and perspectives before actually starting to carve,” Henderson explains. “This allows me to make bold, clear shapes and cuts, which I believe are absolutely essential, because hesitant shapes and cuts in carving look terrible.

“Wood is a very unforgiving medium,” he continues. “If you make a serious mistake your carving is ruined. The time spent on preliminaries is well worth it if it means that you don’t have to  throw out a carving that is three-quarters done.”

That time spent on preliminaries shows: Henderson’s carvings are free flowing yet accurate in detail, occasionally whimsical yet respectful of their subject: the trees curve as if dancing,  the chicken exudes nobility somehow, the bust of an Arikira Indian — based on a photo by Edward Curtis — stares forward with dignity and pride. Each piece expresses the individuality of the subject.

Carved wood sculpture rockfish by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson

Rockfish, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

Because of the dust inherent to carving from wood, Henderson prefers to work outside, which is pleasant in the summer months, he observes. However, due to his seasonal day job — growing and marketing organic produce for his business, Deer Pond Gardens — Henderson spends the warmer months with a shovel in his hand, as opposed to a chisel. Quite fortunately, since he is a man who wears shorts in January, he has no problem working outside when the temperature is more . . . brisk, shall we say.

carved wooden sculpture the gardener by wenaha gallery artist Jordan Henderson

The Gardener, by Wenaha Gallery Artist Jordan Henderson.

“It’s still pleasant,” Henderson comments in his direct, yet soft spoken way. “And though in the summer — when it would be even more pleasant to be carving outside — I’m not able to devote as much time to it, I get many ideas for the winter.

“And in the winter, it’s very enjoyable, sitting by a woodstove, to do the preliminary sketches for sculptures by the fire. Or poring through seed catalogs. The two facets — gardening and carving — work well together.”

It’s back to that sustainability again — using wood that many people  would burn, to celebrate the world of wildlife, domestic animals, trees, fish, and — quite appropriately —  a gardener, leaning on a shovel.

“My goal is to create a clear and aesthetically pleasing rendition of the subject, with the aim to cause viewers to also see the beauty of these subjects,” Henderson says.

“The real benefit of wood is its inherent beauty: a woodcarving is not just a way of creating a form, it is also a way to show off the beauty of the wood it is carved from. That’s why it’s so important to have many different types of wood from which to choose, and thanks to the people who keep me in mind when they’re cutting wood, I’ve got that.”

Jordan Henderson  is the featured Art Event Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery, July 3 through July 26, 2014. Come see the exhibit at the gallery’s downtown Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.  Wenaha Gallery

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 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,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional 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; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

The Best Thing to Do with Wood in Alaska — the Sculpture of Pat and Peggy Bookey

a selection of woodturning and wood piercing art by Pat and Peggy Bookey

A selection of woodturning and wood piercing art by Pat and Peggy Bookey.

When you live in Alaska, what do you do with wood?

For wood artists Pat and Peggy Bookey of North Pole, AK, you don’t necessarily burn it, even though, according to Pat, “The lows here can be between -50 and -60 F!”

When you are the Bookeys, both retired teachers, you fuse your separate skills together to create ethereal, airy sculpture out of native Alaskan birch (Betula neoalaskana) or Koa (from Hawaii). Pat turns the wood into thin-walled bowls, vases, bottle stoppers, and pet urns while Peggy, often using a dentist’s drill, pierces the creations with intricate, lacelike designs incorporating flowers, birds, Pacific Northwest animals such as wildcats or wolves, and, oddly for people who live in a place called North Pole, Hawaiian flora, birds, turtles, and whales. There’s a reason for that, which we’ll get to later.

Birch Butterfly Bowl by Pat and Peggy Bookey

Birch Butterfly Bowl by Pat and Peggy Bookey

“This all started because I needed something to do during the long Alaskan winters,” Pat says of their joint effort at producing fine, yet functional, three-dimensional art. In the initial years, Pat worked alone on his woodturning creations, while Peggy focused on hand carving,  delicately etching scenes on eggs from chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, and eventually, the exotic emu and ostrich. Despite working side by side, in a small garage workshop,  for several years, the couple never thought of coalescing their skills until one day, Pat happened to ask Peggy to carve a scene on one of his turnings.

They never looked back. The ensuing collaboration has taken them out of the workshop into various geographical areas as they distribute their work to galleries and gift shops, and one of those areas has been Hawaii.

“We love to visit that state every year to defrost, so it made sense to seek out opportunities there,” Peggy explains. Their big break came when a sales associate at Martin and MacArthur, an island-based dealer in fine gifts, home accessories, and furniture, insisted that they show their work to the CEO, Michael Tam, who fell instantly in love:

“He couldn’t stop turning the bowl over and over, commenting on the intricate pierced holes and scenes on the wood,” Peggy says. With a strong presence and interest in Hawaii, the couple  added Acacia Koa, a native Hawaiian wood, to their materials, and began incorporating native designs and elements.

In the earlier years of their working together, it was difficult finding the enough time, because even though Pat and Peggy were retired, “We had a significant role in raising our two grandchildren,” Peggy says. When the children were younger,  “we developed a system where Pat would turn a vessel while I looked after the kids, then we would switch and I’d work as fast as possible on the piecing . . . it was one heck of a feat working at that speed. I really pushed that drill!”

Dragonfly Lidded Koa by Pat and Peggy Bookey

Dragonfly Lidded Koa by Pat and Peggy Bookey

As the grandchildren grew older, Pat and Peggy were able to slow down from high speed, but so much practice resulted in pretty near perfect: PJ Percy of TreelineUSA, a woodcarving supply establishment, says of Peggy:

“She is one of the fastest piercers I’ve ever seen.”

The Bookeys, and their work, have been featured in Woodturning, the largest international woodturning magazine, as well as Woodturning Design. One of their favorite sales stories involves the King of Morocco, who visited one of the Martin and MacArthur stores and purchased several pierced Koa bowls to be shipped home.

“The employees couldn’t wait to tell us this good news!” Peggy remembers. Another favorite sale happened at the museum gift store at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, involving a large pierced vase, entwined with dragons, that the new owner hand carried back to China.

Pat and Peggy work together, and work together well, constantly encouraging, pushing, nudging each other to new heights of skill and art:

“Peggy’s relentless suggestions give me the confidence to continue to improve,” Pat says while Peggy notes,

“I was going to stop piercing about six years ago, but Pat pushed me on and supported me along the way. If it wasn’t  for him, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Pat and Peggy Bookey are the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery June 9  through June 28, and you can  enjoy a selection of both their Alaska birch and Hawaiian Koa creations at the downtown Dayton, WA gallery, 219 East Main Street.  Wenaha Gallery

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 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,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional 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; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

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