Turning extends the lifespan of wood

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lisa boone

Standing on a blanket of sawdust she shares with two other woodworkers at a woodworking shop in Los Angeles’ Fashion District, Julie Jackson puts on a protective face shield and turns on her lathe. . She has a rotating chisel called a bowl gouge and wears a green jumpsuit. Mr. Jackson begins shaping the rough edges of the black walnut, much like a potter would shape a vessel on a potter’s wheel.

After spinning it for a while, subtle grain begins to appear and the chunks of wood start to look like dry vases.

“I enjoy doing anything with wood, including furniture making, but lathe is definitely my favorite,” Jackson said. “I like things that look and feel soft. I also like the idea of ​​making ordinary things beautiful. I keep subtracting until I get the right shape.”

Her journey as a designer of finely turned wooden lamps, delicate vases, and bowls began with a childhood project she created with her grandfather in Michigan. “He wanted to be an artist since he was little,” the 35-year-old said. “We built birdhouses with her grandfather, who was a carpenter, and painted pictures with her grandmother. He was very encouraging. It was great.”

Jackson worked with his hands as a child, which led him to major in art at Indiana University Indianapolis Purdue University, but he felt uneasy about being independent as an artist, so he decided to After a year, he transferred to environmental science. “She had no idea what being an artist would look like,” she recalls. “She was thinking of becoming a painter. Looking back, I think she should have stayed in the art club. I think she would have had more fun.”

After college, she worked for a non-profit recycling company, which ultimately influenced her direction as an artist. “It was more of a passion than a career,” she said. “But I later ended up incorporating what I learned from them into my own work.”

After sitting at a computer for eight hours a day and entering data, he missed working with his hands, so in 2014 he apprenticed with his older brother, Josh, a woodworker. “I love sculpting and creating her three-dimensional functional art,” she said. “I finally found the art I wanted to make: trees.”

In addition to the apprenticeship, she learned a lot about woodturning by watching videos on YouTube and joining her local chapter of the American Woodturners Association. She said: “Clubs are located all over the country and are usually free to join. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to spin a tree.”

After an apprenticeship, she and her husband Jonathan Meador founded Surcle Wood, a sustainable brand specializing in creating bespoke wooden furniture and accessories from recycled wood.

Jackson and Meador were working on several custom restaurant projects when the coronavirus pandemic hit. “It was scary,” she said.

But the COVID-19 shutdown also gave her time to focus on woodworking and creating small home decor items.

Her custom-made river rock lamps ($265 or HK$2,067 each without lampshade) and circle wood vases ($38 to $110) became popular on the online marketplace Etsy.

“Etsy has been huge for me,” she said. “I was living in a small town in Indiana, and suddenly I was shipping lamps to Hong Kong and England. This allowed my work to be seen by a wider audience. Ta.”

As the shutdown ended and business began to reopen, her custom pieces returned and interest in smaller pieces resumed. “At that time, I felt that her handicrafts were valued even more,” she says. “People wanted to support small businesses.”

Her River Rock Lamp, an elegant piece made of two stacked wooden ovals turned on a lathe, further boosted her profile when it was named a finalist in last year’s Etsy Design Awards.

That’s no surprise, given the growing demand for handmade wooden gifts and home decor on the site, said Dayna Isom Johnson, an Etsy trends expert and one of the awards’ judges. “As our world becomes increasingly automated, more shoppers are embracing handmade style that celebrates both craftsmanship and individuality, and are turning to items like Julie as an alternative to mass-produced items. ” she said.

They are also interested in supporting small and medium-sized businesses that offer environmentally friendly products. “Julie’s stores are eco-friendly by reusing existing wood rather than increasing deforestation, which resonates with sustainably-minded shoppers,” she added. Ta.

Jackson’s brother Josh, who co-founded Arbor Exchange in 2010, said her commitment to sustainability is evident in every aspect of her business. “She thoughtfully sources her lampshade frames from local artisans and uses 100 percent compostable components for shipping, but it’s this that highlights her unwavering dedication to the environment. , the wood she uses in her designs,” he said. “Her use of reclaimed wood and planks from locally harvested trees is a testament to this dedication, as well as the originality of every piece that passes through her hands. ”

Jackson sources its wood from urban wood recycling programs. She also uses scraps from custom furniture from her shopmates, oranges from her grandparents’ farm, and black walnut from fallen trees.

Her lamps are minimalist in design, but she recently added the Moon Wake lamp ($190), a glass sphere wrapped in walnut ripples. It’s also incredibly complex due to the precision of the lathe process.

Jackson, who also commissions custom furniture, said woodworking gives him the freedom to experiment with unexpected types of wood, from red gum eucalyptus to antique poplar.

“When it comes to furniture, everyone wants the same wood, oak and walnut,” she said. “But there are so many different forests out there. Over the course of a tree’s life, it depends on many factors, including the amount of rain, sunlight, and storms, the insects and animals that make the tree its home, and whether it’s located in an urban or rural area. will be affected.”

Los Angeles time (tns)

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