Bill Luce Woodturner

Sand Carving


Featured Piece

Sand carved Bowls

Green turned Bowls

Celebration Bowls

Other Bowls

Recent Work





I have developed techniques that allow me to produce a finer degree of surface detail than I have seen before in sandblasted wood.  My intended effect is sometimes subtle, but in cases like the second bowl below it results in a very wonderful statement that simply doesn't tell the whole story at once. 

This internal structure of this piece of maple burl has been dramatically revealed by extensive carving away of the surface.  Then the piece is bleached to enhance that texture. In this case the degree of detail exposed in the wood is reduced somewhat by the bleaching process, which is unavoidable.



Fine details in the wood are brought out by careful blasting on this madrone burl piece.  The carving process is very time consuming, but to me well the worth the effort.  The degree of detail  gives the viewer more to see the closer they look.  This subtle texture also alters the way the piece feels in the hand, as well as changing the  sound that the surface makes when touched. I never got tired of holding this piece while it was still in the studio.



In my ongoing series the "Bones of the Tree"  the internal structure of the wood-the bones -is more completely revealed.  In this more dramatic work, wood between the grain lines is totally removed and the skeleton of the bowls remain.  Following are some examples, although the series now includes a wider range of types of pieces than solely tradition vessels as shown here.

Please note:  You can find some of my most recent pieces in this series through the Featured Piece page.  I have not yet moved those images to this page.

Arrowhead,  a Skeleton Bowl from "Bones of the Tree" series. The essence of the bowl is revealed.



 Small footed skeleton bowl with vertical ribs.



 Another  footed skeleton bowl with very vertical ribs.



 Round bottomed skeleton bowl.





The idea of a skeleton bowl came to me in summer of 2002 while looking at the striking grain pattern in a  bowl I had just sandblasted. The idea percolated in my head until early 2003, when I first began to seriously explore the basic concept in various  hard and soft woods using every type of blasting medium imaginable.  The basic idea is easy, the devil is in the details.  It took me months of trials just to find a combination of wood and techniques that seemed promising enough to focus on. Progress was fairly slow because the work is very time consuming, and suitable material is difficult to find. But even at that early stage the concept was proving so exciting that I added a room to my studio dedicated to a wide range of sandblasting and sand carving equipment and activities.

Envisioning and implementing these "skeleton bowls" involves additional dimensions of design and compromise.  All design requires compromise, but revealing the actual internal structure - the bones - of the tree provides challenges all its own when combined with the goal of creating a piece that is successful overall.  For example, I create the form before I completely "see" the exact internal pattern and sometimes, once fully exposed, variations in internal structure clash with certain elements of the overall form.

I had already been a serious student of wood patterns as they relate to vessel form for a number of years before this series, but this series has changed the way I view wood grain.  I now, without thinking of it and in fact not able to turn it off completely, see wood and vessels with sort of X ray vision.  I see possible completed pieces, and the incredible range of choices I have to expose and present the internal structure into a coherent vessel.

One real challenge in this series is the amount of time involved in each of these pieces (as well as the risk of loss during the intense process).  Even though the sandcarving can be quite aggressive (read risky), some vessels have consumed as many as 60 hours of blasting simply due to the hundreds of sections of material that must be removed.  So the ideas come much faster than the ability and time to implement allows me.  I constantly push to improve both the concept and techniques, but there is only so many hours in a day.  I am still very excited about this series after having the first vision in 2002, and it continues to reinvent itself for me afresh. 


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