The Art of Segmented Wood Turning
Each piece of wood is cut to a tolerance of 1/1000th of an inch then glued into a ring following the artist’s mathematical calculations and meticulous sketch to produce parts of the desired design. Each ring is then allowed to cure.
Next, the rings are fitted to each other, stacked and glued together in a press, and again allowed to cure. They are then carefully turned on a lathe, a crucial and delicate process bringing the work to its finished shape. The final steps involve a series of sanding and hand-rubbed finishing to bring out the natural smoothness and colors of the wood. Each of Tom’s unique pieces, most containing hundreds of pieces of wood, goes through the same steps with some pieces taking weeks to finish and others taking months.
The process of segmented wood turning has been around for only the last 100 years, and is often mistaken for inlay. However, with inlay the individual pieces are set into a background material. In segmented wood turning, each piece is carried all the way through the object so that the design is seen on both the outside and inside of the bowl or vessel. One of Tom’s most delightful designs, “Insomnia”, shows this clearly with half circles cut in two different colored woods and assembled at various angles throughout the piece. The 155 pieces of Maple, Bloodwood Bubinga, Walnut and Yellowheart kept the artist awake at night solving the intricacies of incorporating arcs in his work.
Tom’s “Crossroads” is the only piece so far that does not allow the viewer to see the design all the way through the object, and that is because it is a hollow sphere and one of the most intriguing of the artist’s works. The 314 pieces of Walnut, Yellowheart, Ebony, Bloodwood and Maple plus a turquoise composite ring symbolize the roads and paths one travels and that encircle the earth. Tom also created the 112-piece stand that the sphere sits on for display.
Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Art Beat” featured Tom’s segmented wood turnings in its January 5, 2012 show. It can be viewed online at opb.org/programs/artbeat. Photo shows the artist with OPB interviewer KC Cowan, editor and videographer, Tom Shride, and audio tech, Randy Layton, filming in Stewart Jones Designs gallery. Tom’s work has won numerous 1st Place Awards and a People’s Choice Award at the Wallowa Valley Arts Festival, and was featured in the Wood Invitational at the Coos Art Museum, Coos Bay, Oregon, in 2012.
He and his wife, Denise, have lived in Joseph, Oregon, since 2002. Tom began wood working after retiring to Oregon by creating furniture and art pedestals, but now restricts himself to the satisfying and time consuming challenge of segmented wood turning.
Tom’s pieces are inspired by and echo nature, architecture, Native American themes, and abstract concepts such as chaos theory. His work starts at $750 with the 209 piece “Saturday Night” bowl of Maple, Yellowheart and Figured Walnut, and rises to thousands of dollars for such complicated pieces as the 883 piece “Orion”.