The natural world offers many inspirations, especially when it is examined at high magnification. I am a botanist by day and a part time woodturner in whatever spare time I can glean from the week. My botanical training has served me well in my woodturning endeavors.
My work has focused on the use of surface enhancements that employ botanical motifs. Some of the botanical inspirations are obvious. For example, I sometimes use a botanical print motif to illustrate various flowering stages of a particular plant, or I'll cover one of my turnings in maple or oak leaves. Other designs are less obviously botanical unless one is used to seeing plants at the microscopic level. I sometimes ehance a turning by carving a textural motif inspired from cellular structures of plants. Most recently, I have been carving botanical designs into my turnings in 3D. I'm especially fond of maple and oak leaf designs for my carved vessels. My goal is to emulate the work of Grinling Gibbons - the master carver from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Experimentation is part of my design process. I view wood as a medium for exploration and not just a material that has a pretty grain pattern. I tend to use woods that are fine grained with subtle figuring so that my botanical designs become part of the whole vessel, complementary to the wood as opposed to a distraction to the eye. My goal is to enhance the surface so that the vessel becomes a three dimensional canvas that entices the viewer to explore all aspects of the piece.
My designs are carved using several different rotary carving tools (e.g., Foredom SR, Foredom Micromotor, and Powercrafter) or via a burnt relief technique I developed using pyrography equipment. Texturing via carving and pyrography are common elements in my work as is the use of color.
If you'd like to find out more about my scientific career, check into my academic website at: http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~awolfe/. You can find out more about my woodturning and botanical travels at: http://AndiWolfe.blogspot.com.