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At about age five, I nailed and glued pieces of wood together in the form of a birdhouse while my grandfather looked over my shoulder. My grandfather was a shining example of "Yankee ingenuity." He could fix or build almost anything. I would like to think that he passed on a little of that trait to me. Since my time growing up in northern New Hampshire, I have continued to pursue a passion for working with wood. After college and military service, I traveled the United States and then settled in Lake Tahoe. I grew up surrounded by family members that worked in the ski business, so it is not by accident that I pursued a career in skiing. After starting as a ski patroller at Heavenly Ski Area, I spent over thirty years in ski area management. Along the way, I met my wife, Tere, and we raised two wonderful children. When we married, we had a roof over our heads, but no money for furniture; that is when I made a decision to purchase a table saw instead of a piece of furniture. Many years of furniture building preceded my discovery of the lathe, during which time I learned a lot about wood joinery. Because of my previous woodworking experiences, it was only natural that I gravitated towards segmented designs.

Things that "go in circles" have always surrounded me. My "real" job, prior to becoming a fulltime wood artist, involved the operation and construction of ski lifts, which go "round and round". My last large construction project before leaving Heavenly Ski Area was the creation of a 900-foot circumference, donut-shaped, observation deck, which has a "segmented" walking surface. You can see a picture of this deck at http://www.tahoeturner.com/deck.html. As a lifelong skier, I have always been a "turner"; I often spend my winter days turning my skis in the morning and then turning wood in the afternoon.

Segmented woodturning is an art form with few limitations. By combining turned components, I can create just about any shape or size and by arranging different wood species, I can create just about any type of surface design. There are few art forms with this much freedom. This lack of restriction keeps my mind engaged contemplating the possibilities. This art form also gives me the opportunity to work with woods from around the world and thereby gives me the opportunity to share these wonderful materials with many people. Beautiful wood is almost a magical substance; many gallery visitors seem to experience an uncontrollable urge to touch the surfaces that I have created using these treasures of nature. Many designs require innovative assembly solutions, much like puzzle solving; and just like the joy of solving a puzzle, there is great joy in inventing assembly techniques. I have a passion for what I do because it's fun - the designing, the puzzle solving, and the inter-action with other people.

I have been fortunate to have many of my pieces acquired by prestigious collectors from around the world and my pieces have won numerous woodturning show awards. This has certainly provided incentive to continue doing what I do. Perhaps, one of the biggest thrills was witnessing a donated piece (for a local charity auction) receive a $50,000 bid; indeed, that was a very special night. Compliments and awards are wonderful, but you know that you have created something special when someone reaches for their checkbook.

Perhaps it is my imagination, but there seems to be an increased interest in segmented turning during the last few years. I recently conducted demonstrations at the AAW symposium in Orlando and I was surprised at the level of enthusiasm amongst the attendees. As an art form, it is still relatively uncommon; but I think its uniqueness is part of what makes it so special. It intrigues people and many woodturners seem interested in learning the necessary techniques. As evidence of this, I have been honored by recent invitations to conduct more and more presentations at various symposiums and woodworking schools. I enjoy sharing my passion for segmented turning; it is just as much fun as creating a new piece.

My wonderful, schoolteacher wife, Tere, has always been my biggest fan. She certainly shares in any successes that have come my way. When a publisher recently asked me to write a book on segmented turning, she was the first one to encourage me. My book, The Art of Segmented Woodturning, will be available through all the big booksellers in late November. I will also be offering "signed" copies through my website at www.tahoeturner.com. Comments and questions are always welcome and can be direct to malcolm@tahoeturner.com.


 

 
   
  "Alice's Garden"
An icosahedron inner sphere with twelve trumpet-shaped forms 4004 pieces of assorted woods 34" tall
  "Broken Spirits"
This vessel features "porthole" style windows with embedded mosaic Indian face designs. Argentinean mesquite and many exotic species 32" tall
 
     
  "Bucky Was Right"
An icosahedron inner sphere surrounded by a 60-ball, "Bucky Ball" Curly maple, ebony, tulipwood, and purpleheart 28" tall
  "Continuum"
This form is comprised of six half-bowl shapes. Curly maple and jarrah 10" by 16"
 
     
  "Deception on the Cocobolo"
Swivel leather seats, hidden storage drawers, lead-weighted segmented playing pieces Myrtlewood and many exotics 42" tall
  "Faithful"
Over 8,000 pieces of European beech and red batu 36" tall
 
     
  "Growth"
Assembled from individually turned rings Myrtlewood and ebony 28" tall
  "Integration"
16" diameter donut-shaped, interlocked rings Curly maple and walnut
 
     
  "Loopholes"
Half-bowl shapes, rejoined to create a different form Texas ebony, sandalwood, purpleheart, and maple 14" tall
  "Orbis"
Four half-bowl shapes, rejoined to create a different form Texas ebony, sandalwood, purpleheart, and maple 14" tall
 
 
  "Oval Bowl #9"
Created by cutting a tall bowl into two halves and then rejoining them at their top rims Ebony, mesquite, yellowheart, rosewood, pink ivory 14" long
  "Pearls from the Forest"
A Bucky Ball (60 spheres) surrounding an inner dodecahedron configuration (12 spheres). Curly maple, mesquite, yellowheart, other exotics 34" tall
 
     
  "Scrambled Miters"
An example of multi-generational lamination Curly maple, myrtlewood, yellowheart, purpleheart, pau ferro, and ebony 11" tall
  "Talking with Wood"
Holly, carob, ebony, and many exotics 17" diameter
 
     
  "Turbulence"
Constructed from 16 half-bowl shapes Argentinean mesquite and many exotics 34" tall
  "ZigZag Vases"
Examples of second-generation lamination Assorted exotics The tallest is about 16"
 
 

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