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Woodturning News: General News

HERALD AND NEWS: Local artists featured at Sagebrush Rendezvous (01/27/2017)

Friday, January 27, 2017   (0 Comments)
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After presenting pristine woodcrafts at the annual Sagebrush Rendezvous art show for the past several years, local artisans Harold Pollard and Elbert Henderson will be in the spotlight for this weekend’s festivities as the two featured artists for the event.

While not alone in showcasing masterful works of art with over 30 different artists present for the upcoming two-day event, Henderson and Pollard’s works refined after years of woodshop tinkering will be the most prominent displays — honored for their mastery of wood-related artwork.

The annual event, held at the Running Y Ranch Resort Saturday and Sunday, includes artwork from local artists, a wine and beer tasting, and numerous prize drawings throughout the two days. Most importantly, it’s a chance to not only view artwork by local artists, but interact with them directly to discover the methods used to create their finished products. For many of the artists’ works, including Pollard and Henderson, the art show takes a hands-on approach rarely found in galleries, encouraging an extra dimension of experiencing art by feeling and touching the completed designs.

For both Henderson and Pollard it is the first time either has been honored with the featured artist distinction for one of Klamath County’s most prestigious art shows, though both have shown their works not only at past Sagebrush Rendezvous events but other galleries as well.

Pursuing a passion

For Henderson, his obsession with woodcarving grew in retirement pursuing a passion that was first sparked at an early age. With the help of his father, he made a wooden boat as a child. Later in school he created various projects in woodshop classes, while he and his brother shared a lathe at home tinkering with different wood shapes. After retirement, Henderson helped his brother build a woodshop, further adding to his interest in woodcrafts.

Expressing an interest in learning the art of woodturning specifically, he was invited by a local master woodturner to accompany him to the Utah Woodturning Symposium in Salt Lake City, an internationally renowned annual showcase of the world’s premiere woodcrafters. A memorial display of Ray Allen’s work, who pioneered segmented southwest style vessels, piqued Henderson’s interest, and after acquiring a book about Allen’s method, Henderson soon set to work establishing his own designs.

Years later, Henderson has created hundreds of bowls and plates, ever-more complicated, utilizing Allen’s methods while giving it his own unique spin. For Henderson the creative process begins with pencil and paper, where he meticulously maps out mathematic patterns for different-sized wood blocks and how they will be shaped together to create a single item. One single project can take upward of 100 hours of dedicated work.

“It takes a certain amount of focus and dedication to complete one,” Henderson said of his intricate and multi-layered bowl designs. “Sometimes the wood is thicker than what I first visualized and so the design will change, but mostly the creative process is on paper. I follow the plans once they are all mapped out.”

Henderson is an active member of the American Association of Woodturners, the Southern Cascade Woodcrafters Guild and the Klamath Art Association.

‘Functional art’

While Henderson’s woodwork is comprised mainly of show pieces, Pollard’s materials take on a more “functional art” perspective as usable items like tables and cabinets. Big, heavy and polished to a fine veneer, Pollard’s work began as a means to fill the home with furnishings. An employee of Jeld-Wen who works on specialty products three days a week, the other four are spent in his woodshop where one single project can take up to six months to complete.

Originally from Louisiana, Pollard first discovered the Klamath Basin while stationed at Kingsley Field air base. He later returned, married, and eventually settled in Klamath Falls, where a need to build furniture for the home soon turned into a passion.

“I just started building things for the house, and it just graduated up from there as I burned out equipment and had to get bigger stuff,” laughed Pollard. “My wife would come up with designs that would really test me, and I eventually reached this pinnacle. Now I can walk away from a finished piece and say, ‘Wow, that is beautiful!’”

The hobby turned into an obsession about 15 years ago, as Pollard’s designs became more involved and complex. As the price tag for his projects grew, as more specialized woods and epoxies were needed, eventually he began selling items — much to his wife’s chagrin in letting go of pieces she would have preferred stayed in the home. His big break came when author Ray Hemachandra contacted him after seeing images of Pollard’s completed work online, and included one of Pollard’s projects in a published book titled “500 Tables: Inspiring Interpretations of Function and Style.”

Growing interest

Inspired by the book’s validation of his work, the demand for Pollard’s work quickly grew. His finely veneered tables and other projects became highly sought as functional art pieces. He receives custom order requests as well as sells completed works of his own design, often finding inspiration from a single piece of wood itself after spotting different shapes and designs hidden within the wood — like animals or faces.

Pollard’s completed works come with a hefty price tag, indicative of the amount of labor and materials dedicated to personally handcrafting each item. Polished smooth to a glass-like finish, his work is time-consuming but the completed material takes on both a rustic charm and factory floor shine as functional art that must not only be seen but felt also to truly appreciate.

Interaction encouraged

While both artists occasionally take their work to other shows, Sagebrush Rendezvous remains a sentimental favorite as the premiere local art event, as well as how it is organized. The event encourages interaction with artists to ask questions, provides opportunities to experience art in new ways and see the creative process at work. The event includes a quick-draw competition, utilizing pencils instead of guns, and a beer, wine and cheese tasting along with over $1,000 in door prizes.

“They (Sagebrush Rendezvous) really have been nice to me, and they bend over backward for the artists there,” said Pollard. “They’ve been great. A lot of people who are fellow woodworkers come to the show and ask how I did this or that, so that’s why I bring some cross-sections so I can show how I made things. I try to show people how it was done, why it’s so labor-intensive. I think people appreciate it more if I’m able to explain the process.”

“I like the number of people who come to the show, and the wide range of folks I meet,” added Henderson. “I enjoy meeting new people more than anything. It’s not so much about selling things, though reducing inventory makes room for more projects. I like the opportunity to interact with people, and I usually have a sign on my table that reads, ‘please pick up.’ I have a hard time looking at something unless I can physically feel it, there’s an added dimension of appreciation when I can touch it, and I want others to experience that too. I look forward to this show every year.”

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