The won­der­ful world of WOOD CARV­ING

The Covington News - - Frontpage - Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­news.com

Don Rus­sell made ev­ery piece of wood fur­ni­ture in his Ox­ford home, and there’s a lot of it. Ta­bles, chairs, chests, cab­i­nets and two tall grand­fa­ther clocks.

The one in the liv­ing room is his crown jewel, a com­bi­na­tion of king wood, so named for its pur­plish hue, and Cey­lon satin, with its yel­low tint.

That’s Rus­sell’s sig­na­ture touch, ac­tu­ally — multi-col­ored wood cre­ations, par­tic­u­larly poly­chro­matic wooden bowls. He picked up on the prac­tice be­cause he used to get un­used scrap pieces from W.P. Stevens Lum­ber, which came in all shapes, sizes and col­ors.

“I love the cre­ative part,” Rus­sell said. “Mak­ing assem­blies out of mul­ti­ple woods, it’s a lit­tle more cre­ative, more ex­treme than us­ing a sin­gle grain.”

He’s been work­ing with wood for the last 45 years, and gets the great­est en­joy­ment these days from pass­ing on

the trade to oth­ers. He founded the Peach State Wood­turn­ers, a group of wood en­thu­si­asts, who meet monthly to share tips and learn more about their craft.

Wood­turn­ing in­volves plac­ing a block of wood on a lathe, a ma­chine tool that ro­tates, while the wood­turner uses var­i­ous tools to carve and shape the block into a bowl, cup or other cir­cu­lar ware.

John Rud­ert is one of Rus­sell’s dis­ci­ples, though he first worked in his dad’s wood­shop as a young boy. Later in life, Rus­sell helped Rud­ert de­velop his skills, and since then Rud­ert has branched out into mar­quetry, the craft of ap­ply­ing ve­neer (thin slices of dyed wood), to form dec­o­ra­tive pat­terns and pic­tures on wood.

Some of his more com­plex de­signs will take up to a month, like the light­house pat­tern he cre­ated for a ta­ble for the Ge­or­gia Lions Light­house Foun­da­tion,

“It’s an ac­com­plish­ment not too many other get to do. There aren’t that many mar­que­tri­ans in to­day’s so­ci­ety,” said Rud­ert, who par­al­leled the fine de­tail re­quired for mar­quetry with the de­tail he uses in com­puter pro­gram­ming.

Rus­sell, Rud­ert and dozens of other crafts­man from Ge­or­gia and the south­east gath­ered at Rus­sell’s home on Gum Creek Road Satur­day. The land goes back gen­er­a­tions in his wife’s, Patsy, fam­ily, and the cou­ple has hosted sev­eral wood­turn­ing gath­er­ings pre­vi­ously, though this is the first one in about four years.

One of the at­ten­dees was Cony­ers res­i­dent Turk Al­li­son who gave a demon­stra­tion on how to carve a 16-inch wide wooden plat­ter.

“ It’s a great stress re­liever — the best ther­a­pist I’ve had,” Al­li­son said and laughed. “When I’m hav­ing a bad day, I set up a piece of wood and make some­thing out of it. I love just tak­ing a piece of some­body’s fire­wood and be­ing able to turn into a bowl, urn, vase or some­thing else for them.”

Rus­sell said wood carvers and wood­turn­ers are a friendly crowd that are happy to teach and wel­come new mem­bers to the fam­ily. The Peach State Wood­turn­ers meet at 7 p.m., the first Thurs­day of ev­ery month at Rus­sell’s home, 2025 Gum Creek Road, Ox­ford.

Mem­ber­ship is $30 a year. For more in­for­ma­tion visit peach­state­wood­turn­ers.com.

Gabriel Khouli / The Cov­ing­ton News

A mem­ber of the Peach State Wood­turn­ers gives a cir­cu­lar saw demon­stra­tion dur­ing a gather­ing in Ox­ford. The group meets dur­ing the first Thurs­day of each month at 2025 Gum Creek Road, Ox­ford.

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