Artist Ken Cowell will be giving a walk-through of Master Craft: The Art of Woodworking (ticket required for entry). Ken will also be discussing marquetry vs. inlay and the tools used for delicate detailing in his work.
Yorba Linda, California
Ken Cowell first started working with wood as a handyman and eventually opened a cabinet shop. In 2004, he received a book about segmented woodturning and found his creative passion. Segmented wood turning is the art of composing a vessel of small segments of different colored woods that have been cut and glued together according to a pre-determined plan, mounted on a lathe and shaped to reveal the beauty and shape of the vessel. Self-taught, Cowell also builds heirloom furniture and marquetry pieces.
I have always been creative with my hands. I began working with wood as a handyman, then became a General Contractor and finally opened a cabinet shop. Even though I’m self-taught as a woodworker, I’ve made heirloom furniture for my wife and four married children. A 2004 Christmas gift changed my free time completely. I received a book on segmented woodturning, and I was really hooked – and continue to be, this many years later!
The most frequently asked question is “How did you do that?” It begins a step at a time. The basic design is first sketched and refined at the drafting table where it also receives a matrix of data describing the size, shape and location of all the wood segments that fit into the piece. Second, the creation of the vessel begins by cutting and gluing wood segments together to form rings. These rings are then glued together to form the roughly shaped vessel. The third step is the most emotionally charged part of segmented woodturning. Great joy comes as the patterns of colored woods begin to emerge and great tension comes from turning a vessel with very thin walls. Cutting all the way through a side or bottom, after all those hours of “vessel building,” is easier than you might think! Lastly, it is time to sand and finish the vessel. It is in this stage of the creation where the special wood grains appear. The color contrasts show their patterns and my heart sings with great joy as my dream becomes reality!
Some people ask, “Where do you get your inspiration?” The short answer is “everywhere.” It comes from books, ads, catalogs, nature, architecture, logos, rugs, wallpapers, pottery, etc. All of creation is bursting with beautiful art.
“How long does it take to make one of these?” is another common question. So far the time ranges from 13 hours to 400 hours depending on how many pieces and how complicated the pattern. “Why do you do this?” and “Don’t you find this tedious?” are often asked. For me, this art form is emotionally stimulating and spiritually rewarding. I believe every person is created with special gifts, and doing what you were created for brings the greatest joy. This art form fits me perfectly. My Creator has made me for this life. I love the creative process of sketching and planning and enjoy working with beautiful wood to form pleasing designs. When the segments all come together, the piece is mounted on a lathe and turned to its final shape. Wow! The beauty of color, form and design emerge. To me this brings a special emotional and spiritual lift. To hold my dream in my hands is awesome.
Then… I enjoy watching others take pleasure in my art.