Clarissa Spawn started turning wood full time in 2002 at the age of 46. She gave up, as her dad disgustedly said, “two perfectly good careers.” She saw her new career as returning together first love, art. It’s a combination of her lifetime love of wood, bowls of all shapes and materials. And working with her hands.
When designing a wooden bowl she strives to incorporate the character of the wood into a shape that will have an emotional impact on the viewer. The finishing process is of equal importance to her and she strives to create a surface that is enjoyable to touch. She works with green local wood rescued from downed trees. Much of it she discovers while bicycling through Fayette, Woodford, Scott and Madison Counties. The trees she uses are primarily walnut, wild cherry, spalted maple, and occasionally box elder. All of them are lovely in their own distinctive way. Her husband and wood lot manager cuts the logs into chunks and knocks off the corners with a chain saw. He then uses pulleys and chains to hoist the often 300 pound chunks onto the lathe.
She then turns a chunk to a bowl blank, air dries it for 8-12 months, re-turns it to its final shape, and finishes it. Her more organic looking work is turned to its final shape while green, then allowed to dry and warp, sanded and finished. The majority of her work is finished with mineral or walnut oil, beeswax, and carnauba wax.
Clarissa Spawn’s work can be found at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea KY.