Charles Zucker

Lathe Sculpted Wood

By day, a neuroscientist; after dark, a woodturner. The mind can be thought of as a reflection of all that we have ever experienced. Likewise, the substance of a tree – a block of wood – holds a detailed record of all that has occurred to the tree during its lifetime. Greater light exposure on one side, prevailing winds, a nearby tree falling and shearing off some branches, insect attack, a woodpecker hunting for some of those insects… Inside the wood the grain may bend, ripple, curl, or swirl; the color may change where a branch tried, and failed to grow; pigments may be painted across the grain by burrowing insects or invading fungi. All reflections of the history of the tree.

When I look at a tree, felled by a storm or being taken down for various reasons, I try to glean some of the adversity that tree has been through and what portions of the log may exhibit interesting properties. When I hold up a block of wood, I study it; trying to look inside, evaluating what it might look like with some of it removed. Once spinning on the lathe I explore what is within. And there are always surprises. Ah – So much can be gained by subtraction!

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