Revealing Beauty through Exceptional Craftsmanship

My artwork seeks to reveal the beauty within the discarded.  My primary medium is felled urban timber to give it a second life rather than see it burned, chipped, or dumped. This “perfectly imperfect” medium allows for simplicity of form as a starting point to create varieties of contrast, pattern, and visual movement, often by carving and/or the transformative power of fire. I find inspiration in the textures and patterns of city life, natural or man-made. Primary influences are the Arts & Crafts Movement, Modernism, and the Zen concept of wabi-sabi.

Some Thoughts on What I Do

Some people will look at holes and cracks as imperfections. I like to see these “flaws” as what gives the wood character and uniqueness. Now I could get into the Japanese art of kintsugi, but since I don't have any gold or silver for mending, I’ll embrace wabi-sabi instead. Distilled to the most basic, wabi-sabi is often referred to as a “flawed beauty” or a threefold embrace of impermanence, imperfection, and incompleteness. 


When I began woodworking consistently, the Arts and Crafts movement held a great appeal to me (not only aesthetically but also their ideas of social change). The attitude was to keep designs simple so the beauty of the wood could be appreciated. This simplicity also plays out in certain Zen aesthetics as well. When I made a commitment a few years back to mostly use reclaimed/salvaged wood for my woodturning, I quickly embraced the wabi-sabi way and seek to use defects as part of the design. Plus the next time someone says, “It’s cracked.” or “It has holes in it.” My reply will be, “wabi-sabi.”


This aesthetic of imperfection is well suited for woodworking provided one approaches the material as the perfectly imperfect medium. Although the tree is dead, the wood still breathes. As it dries the wood warps and cracks. If exposed to the elements, the process of decay quickens. If you catch it at just the right moment of decay, when fungus starts growing through the rings and layers, a new beauty can emerge. Instead of appealing to ideals and seeking to bring the transcendent near, wabi-sabi appeals to the immanent as a way to transcend or enlighten. Imperfect, not perfection. Process, not permanence. Simplicity, not grandeur. Imbalance, not symmetry.


“Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness. Wabi-sabi is ambivalent about separating beauty from non-beauty or ugliness. The beauty of wabi-sabi is in one respect, the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly. Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.” 

Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers