Arizona Daily Star article

The Arizona Daily Star featured a story on me on Friday, August 12; read it here. Reporter Patty Machelor interviewed me and spoke to a few of my collectors for the story, and photographer Benny Sanders took some shots of me in my studio (be sure to click on the Image tag above the story to see them all).

Yes, I know this post is way late, but what can I say? I was on vacation when the article came out.

Fun in the studio

I had fun in the studio today. I resumed turning postsurgery three weeks ago, but I have spent only a few days here and there during those weeks actually turning, including two days of open studio. Today was the first really full day I’ve had working in the studio and the first day I really felt my mojo back. I had been feeling tentative and clumsy. Today, I picked up a large chunk of spalted wild cherry that someone had brought me during the studio tour. He had had it since 1990 (!), and I found it to be cracked throughout and utterly dry and very punky. What came off the gouge was mostly dust, with a few dry shavings. (My studio now looks like it’s coated in brick dust.) I decided, what the hell! It felt like a perfect opportunity to play, with nothing at stake and always the possibility of a bowl.

I tried to cut past the cracks, but discovered that they went all the way through. The wood was so punky and funky that I decided to go for an elegant shape, leaving the walls thick for integrity, and let the texture be what it would, in contrast to the shape. I sanded with 60-grit sandpaper just to reduce the unavoidable tearout and then sandblasted the bowl inside and out. It ended up with a wonderful weathered-sandstone appearance. I applied a single but generous coating of Danish oil to bring out the rich cherry/sandstone color. I love the result, though I know it’s not for everyone. What do you think? (The photos are just snapshots, so please forgive the color variation. The second photo is most representative of the actual color—at least on my computer.)

Create: The Mysterious Art of Wood

Stem, by Lynne Yamaguchi

"Stem," by Lynne Yamaguchi: maple burl bowl on a painted cherry pedestal

For those of you on the East Coast (specifically North Carolina), later this month several pieces of my work will be part of an exhibition called Create: The Mysterious Art of Wood, “an exhibit about the patterns and figures, the colors and textures, and the form, proportion, and spirit that all converge in each wood creation to tell a unique story.” The exhibition will run from March 25 to April 20 at Cape Fear Studios in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It will feature regional, national, and international artists, including Stuart Mortimer, Jacques Vesery, Ron Kent, Howard Schroeder, and me, of course, and will include turned objects, carved objects, boxes, furniture, even jewelry.

If you’re in the area, please check it out. The opening reception will be held Thursday, March 25th, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Studio time

As I get ready for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Southwest Flair A-Fair starting this Friday, I have been enjoying having a few days in the studio to make new vessels. Knowing my time was limited, I have focused on small vessels, which I always love. There is real sweetness in making things that just fit in a cupped hand. At the same time, I have been trying to finish a slightly more ambitious piece, a mesquite jar inspired by a revisiting of the classic book How to Wrap Five Eggs, about Japanese packaging. I am making a lid of shaped and dyed half-inch oak boards. As soon as the finish cures (which seems to be taking longer than expected—perhaps because of the dye I used—namely, Fiebing’s black leather dye), I will glue the handles to the lid and the vessel will be ready to go. The body of the jar is simple but handsome. I wirebrushed the exterior of the mesquite to give it an almost clay feel.

Facebook and general update

I have just joined Facebook, so if you are already a member, please find me and invite me to be your friend and become a fan of my page. I am new to this whole social networking thing, so please be patient with me while I learn the ropes. I joined because I’ve been hearing from many sources that social networking is the new wave of art marketing, but as a bonus, it looks like I may get to reconnect with some old friends as well. I very much look forward to that.

I also realized that I have been blogging more than I knew—just not in this blog. Instead, I have been posting updates to my home page, when I could have been doing it here instead. Realizing that will make me come here more. In addition, I will be figuring out how to integrate this blog into my Facebook activities, so there is added incentive to write more often.

I have neglected my art business this year, as I have focused on fixing up our new (to us) house. As I near the end of the major tasks, though, I find myself turning back with renewed drive. I am determined to be more disciplined on the business side of my art this year, beginning with my online presence. I am also bursting with ideas to try out on and off the lathe.

If you haven’t seen them already, here are some new-ish pieces that might hint at some of my new directions.

“Assent, Ascent”




During my last show, I sat a lot with the piece called “Offering,” and I want to share some of how I feel about it.

The vessel was born of green wood, wet, as we are. My labor was long. The hollowing took two sessions, and to keep the wood from shrinking overnight, I swaddled it in wet cloth and stored it in plastic. After the hollowing, as the wood dried, the body took on its own shape: oval, rather than round, taller than it is wide when the long lip is down. The wood (pearwood) is imperfect, a little blotchy, bruised, even. But the vessel is lovely, softly lovely. When I cup it in my hands, I feel it sing itself, quietly, out to the world, offering itself—to me, to you, to the cosmos, to God, however you may conceive that energy or entity. In turn, I offer it on a platter, on a bed of its own shavings, the remains of what it was, by-products of its passage to what it has become.


Collectors of Wood Art Forum

The Collectors of Wood Art (CWA) held their annual forum in Scottsdale this weekend, and I was able to drive up for some of the Saturday sessions.

I first got to see a panel discussion chaired by sculptor Connie Mississippi, with sculptor-carver Susan Hagen, turner Merryll Saylan, turner Virginia Dotson, and furniture maker and artist Wendy Maruyama. The theme was place, and each artist presented images of places and work inspired or informed by those places.

Susan Hagen focused on a series of ten dioramas (Recollection Tableaux) she created for the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, depicting aspects of life in the prison throughout its history.

Merryll Saylan talked about home and community as place. Some of her pieces had domestic themes; some were more broadly influenced by her environment (e.g., changing color palettes), neighborhood (urban, industrial), and community (family, friends).

Virginia Dotson focused on the geology and cultures of the American Southwest, showing images primarily from Canyon de Chelly. As a desert dweller myself, I have always loved her geologic layered work, and I was interested to see that her new work incorporates painted petroglyph and petrograph motifs.

Wendy Maruyama touched on the World War II Japanese-American internment camps in the United States but focused mainly on inspirations from visits to Japan and China. Her incorporations of hentai images from Japanese pornographic comics and iconic images of Godzilla were particularly amusing. She has also begun using digital video in her work, such as a video of an Asian woman (her sister) applying “dragon lady” makeup, seen through a two-way mirror in a piece.

After a break, the forum continued with digital-image or slide presentations by various artists, emphasizing future work.

I first discovered the exquisite naturalistic carvings of Janel Jacobson this summer in the collection of Fleur Bresler. Janel showed the progression of her work from relief carving in clay to the fully dimensional wood carvings she now does, and she shared some of her specific techniques. The detail in her work is astonishing.

Turner Dewey Garrett’s work always interests me. He is always exploring fresh ideas, informed by his background as an engineer. He has now built himself an ornamental-turning system, but he’s not content to stick with traditional rose engine patterns; he has written software for himself that enables him to create patterns on the fly.

Sculptor Michael Peterson is continuing to explore organic shapes and textures in his work. I find his work irresistible.

Sculptor Jack Slentz is playing with Swiss cross and gear and star shapes, and complementary pieces combining positive and negative shapes. He is also using new materials: stitched rubber and street signs.

Kerry Vesper, furniture maker and sculptor, is carving wave or flying-banner forms and blossom forms in plywood. He is also playing with collaborations with glass artist Alisha Volotzky.

Todd Hoyer and Hayley Smith say they haven’t been making a lot of art recently, because for the last three years they have been engaged in building their studios and a house. Their joint presentation was about just that process. It was particularly interesting to see how the process reflects their approach as artists; for example, the floor of Hayley’s studio is essentially a sample board of colors and textures they were testing for use in floors in their house.

After the presentations, I spent a couple of hours savoring the del Mano Gallery exhibition set up in the conference center. They had multiple pieces from some four or five dozen artists. I haven’t taken so many photos since the ITE. I would share some with you, but I think del Mano would prefer that I not. You can see a lot of work at their web site, however, so check it out.

Going to the forum also gave me the chance to say hello to some friendly faces I met through the ITE this summer: Elisabeth Agro, Albert and Tina LeCoff, Steve Keeble and Karen Depew, Arthur Mason, Joe Seltzer. Brief though my visit to the forum was, it really makes me want to get back to the work I’ve been distracted from by moving and shows and holidays and new toys. I have so many pieces just begun or even just sketched out that draw and build on my ITE experience. That’s the work that excites me most, but, alas, it must yet wait for another few weeks, until after my next show. It must wait because it requires space, psychic space, birthing space. In the meantime, I think about it, dream about it, plan it, work out the details. It gestates in me.

Online preview of “allTURNatives”

You can now preview our show, the new “allTURNatives” exhibit of ITE work, as photographed by John Carlano. The Wood Turning Center will have its own virtual exhibit on its site in the near future, which will include some installation shots and other material not available to me, so keep checking there.

Some caveats apply here: Only for my objects are titles provided (viewable if you allow the Active X controls or when you hover your cursor over the large image), and only my sequence is chronological. The sequences of images for other folks’ work are not chronological and may not even be logical; this can be blamed on the order in which the objects were photographed and the way the files were named. Some objects have multiple photos; in particular, John shot rapid sequences of Siegfried’s kinetic work in motion to try to capture their movement. Be sure to scroll through all of the thumbnails at the left of the screen to see all of the images. Here are links to the web pages, by artist:

If you can, please come see the work in person at the Wood Turning Center. Join us there on Friday night at 5:30 for our official opening or on Saturday afternoon, 2–4, for a gallery talk with all of us.

Hurtling toward the finale

What a trip the last week has been. Turn, turn, turn. Even Thursday night, at midnight on the last night before having our work photographed and delivering it to the Wood Turning Center, Jean-François was turning one more wall piece while Siegfried and I cataloged and prepped our pieces. Friday morning, Sean was touching up pieces while packing his work up.

Friday was a long day at the photographer’s studio. John Carlano photographed everything, and we are talking about a huge quantity of work, especially from Jean-François and Sean. I counted at least 46 pieces from Jean-François, including 10 wall hangings and 6 cement bowls, and 39 from Sean. I can’t count Siegfried’s, because many of his involve multiple pieces and I don’t know what the combinations are. Divided as my time was and as slow as I am, I have 15 new pieces—of which, I will say, I am pretty proud.

Saturday, Vince Romaniello filmed Lesya dancing with Sean’s piece, my piece, and Peter’s chainsawn bench. The bench dance involved the four of us turners interacting with the bench (under Lesya’s command) as well. The film will be showing at the opening and, I assume, throughout the exhibition.

All the work is at the Wood Turning Center now. It has all been professionally photographed. I think the cataloging is done. The exhibit designer comes today to lay it all out. The work will be installed, labels will be printed and placed, and Friday night, the whole shebang will be unveiled.

Meanwhile, Sean was back at the workbench the instant he was free from other duties. Jean-François and Siegfried have also been back at it. Everyone is busy making gifts, except me. I have not been able to work since finalizing my pieces, and I had to push hard to manage that, because since last Monday, July 23, I have been battling vertigo. The world keeps tilting on its axis, and I have been working hard just to stay upright. I stagger about like an old drunk, sitting or leaning as much as possible, even napping on the floor of Jane’s office when it gets too bad. I’m trapped in my own Hitchcock movie. Where is Kim Novak (or Barbara Bel Geddes, for that matter) when you need her?

Friday–Sunday, July 20–22

We worked.

Don’t expect much in the way of posts for the next few days. Our deadline for turning in work for the final exhibition is this Friday, so all we will be doing until then is working, and for me at this point, that means turning, not blogging.

Here are a few photos from the last couple of days, just to try to keep you current.

Siegfried and Sean at work in their respective spaces.

Sean turning a new piece from manzanita root.

A new piece in process on Sean's workbench.

Siegfried makes—and throws—his own confetti.

The pile of shavings under Siegfried's lathe.

More of Siegfried's roughed-out pieces.

Jean-François's spalted ash series.

One of Jean-François's new series of black and white and black-and-white bowls.

New (and old, in the background) cement bowls by Jean-François.

Another view of Jean-François's cement bowls.

A pair of cherry bowls by me, before carving.

A pear bowl I made for Jane.