Paul Porter  |  Wood

I was born and raised in the southwest and have always appreciated the cultural flavor of the region. I accidentally fell into the re-learning of turning wood while taking an evening community college class in woodworking. When the equipmentI needed was occupied by other students I noticed many lathes were open; remembering the enjoyable experiences I had in high school many years prior I decided to bring some wood and give it a try. Needless to say I fell in love with wood turning again…taking a piece of wood that may be destined for the fire place and releasing the inner beauty that is hidden under its dry blistered bark.

I enjoy the idea of taking a square block of wood and making it round. I bought my first lathe from a high school auction and now I work on professional equipment that allows me to create larger pieces. I have always had fun during discussions of where I find my wood. I try not to buy wood but use the local trees that may have been downed in a storm or removed for “progress”. Fellow woodturners from across the country think all we have is scrub brush and are surprised to see my collection of mesquite, ironwood, eucalyptus, carob, and olive to name a few. I get calls from all over the valley when a tree is down and I usually bring back something that is amazing! As a long time AWA-Arizona Woodturners Association member the networking is limitless, after a while I was busy with symposiums, art shows, teaching workshops, and trading wood from around the country.

I have always been fascinated with the simple utilitarian shapes of the native southwest pottery and baskets. These shapes held the degree of simplicity and balance for the eye that has drawn me and collectors of my work to the grace and wonder of the growth patterns that showcases the wood itself. I can get so excited at what is exposed with each pass of my tool as the wood rotates. Hollowvessels, bowls, and lidded boxes have found their way into collections around theworld as well as functional art into the kitchens and dining room tables of many homes. Each time I start turning a new piece of wood on my lathe it is a new and different adventure, an adventure I’ll never get tired of!