Artist Bryan Nelson presents his portfolio of vessels and objects using a variety of exotic and domestic wood. Visit his website to see more of his work.
I have an inextinguishable love for all things wood and a great passion for wood turning. To be able to take a raw piece of a once living tree and transform it into a living entity again is humbling. Wood to me is the ultimate medium – it can be cut and shaped to almost any form. Then Mother Nature throws in her flair with grain, color, texture and scent. I liken wood to the oils of the painter, but with wood there is a secret inside.
I am a self-taught woodworker and woodturner, but I lean more towards turning than the other. Finding the inner beauty hidden within each and every block or log is, in my mind, the ultimate quest.
I often find local trees that have been removed from either storm or age, which yield some of my more fantastic finds. To think that such material can be found and saved from the burn pile or fire pit or worse the dump, is very gratifying. Every tree should get a second chance to live again through a woodworker’s hands.
My main focus in wood turning is on bowls. From ring dishes that have a 4-5” diameter to large salad bowl of 24”, most of my bowls will serve a purpose from holding keys, rings and coin to serving foods. But there are also the bowls that are turned just to please the eye. They may not be round or have a smooth rim. They may even have holes in them – in fact, they can be downright rugged. These are the most challenging and rewarding to me. They are also the most dangerous to turn, which in the end adds to the reward.
I also turn other items, from birdhouses and salt and pepper mills to crochet hooks, and once in a while the baluster or table leg. It is always fun to turn multiple identical items. I do this by hand and eye. You won’t find a duplicator in my shop! All of this helps fill the time between bowls.
Some woods are more difficult to work than others. From the very oily rosewood that loves to gum up sandpaper to the dense, rock hard, tool-dulling woods and the soft often spongy, spalted woods, I love them all. They each are individually worth my time and effort to make them shine.
Whether it be a small dish or a large abstract winged bowl, my greatest joy comes from sharing the inner beauty of the trees with everyone in the world. With thousands of my bowl scattered around the globe, it is a good feeling that I share the beauty of the trees.
In the end, true happiness comes with an email or review from a customer who has just received my work. Hearing their honest opinion of what they see and the value of what they have, makes all the blood, sweat and tears worth it.
I know that the medium of wood bothers some people. I do work with a lot of exotic woods which I purchase from sources that harvest wood in a sustainable, responsible method. For if we fail to replace what we have taken, it will all be gone very soon. Wood is a self-replenishing resource if used correctly and thoughtfully. I do try to give back what I’ve taken by donating of a portion of each and every item I sell to planting a tree somewhere on planet earth.
Bryan Nelson invites you to visit his Etsy shop.