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FEATURED WORK
Bob Anderson

“Wood has a beauty and character unlike manmade materials; it feels good in the hand, warm and silky. Woodturning has allowed me to create forms and lines that are not possible with traditional flatwork.”

The process of designing forms and seeing them come alive on the lathe challenges and inspires woodworker Bob Anderson.

“I challenge myself to convert a slab of wood into a functional, beautiful object,” said Bob, who has worked with wood for 35 years. ”I strive to create pieces with pleasing form and simple clean lines, showcasing the unique color and pattern inherent in the trees from which the wood was harvested.”

Bob crafts functional bowls, pots, lidded boxes, platters and pepper, salt and spice mills, as well as sculptural pieces when the muse ignites his whimsical side.

“I envision my functional pieces as objects that will be a joy to use and handle in daily life, while also being of a quality worthy to be passed down as heirlooms,” said the woodworker who spent 30 years doing pharmaceutical research. “My sculptural forms allow me to reference my scientific background and to explore and express my whimsical nature.”

His work is a many-stepped process that can take as much as a year or more to complete, as he values the wood’s characteristics and labors to preserve its color and figure.

Much of the raw material he uses is harvested from downed trees he finds near his Boone County home and saves from ending up in a landfill.

“While some may think of Indiana as a vast, flat cornfield, there are in fact many forests with a diversity of native species,” Bob said. “I feel that the Hoosier tradition of simplicity and functionality remains a worthy touchstone in these rapidly changing times.”

He draws designs so he has an image in mind before the first cut is made using a chainsaw, and then he rough-turns the blanks on a lathe to near final form while they are still wet. Once the form is taking shape on the lathe, however, the wood and his eye take the place of the design on paper and guide the process to completion.

“I then slowly air-dry the forms for a year or more,” he explained. “Slow air-drying preserves the color and figure of the wood. I return the dried form to the lathe to create the final piece,” and then he hand carves enhancements to give his work a distinct, signature look.

Hand carving on turned vessels adds dimension and a greater degree of character and originality to his work, Bob explained. “I choose themes from nature for my carving. It’s an appropriate way to honor the wood.”

While all of his work is artistic, he designs his functional pieces to be comfortable to use and easy to maintain. “I subscribe more to the Hoosier philosophy of function combined with simple and beautiful form,” he said.

His pepper mills are stout and fit nicely in the hand; his bowls are sturdy with a thickened rim to assist in picking them up. “This combination of beauty and elegant functionality yields objects that are a joy to use and handle on a daily basis, and also are worthy to pass on as heirlooms.”