Elbert Henderson said it is not uncommon for him to drive down the road and wonder what the trees might look like if he got his hands on them.
“I look at a tree and I think, ‘I wonder what that would look like if I sliced if off?’” said Henderson, a Klamath Falls (Oregon) resident who spends his time in his basement workshop turning pieces of wood into shiny, smooth bowls and decorative pieces of art.
Henderson, 78, took up wood turning when he was in the fifth grade. After retiring from doing mill work, he returned to the craft in 2000, and has been perfecting his art ever since.
Henderson uses a wood lathe machine to create his artwork, which begins as a block of wood and is chiseled down into a thin, smooth bowl, plate or decorative piece. It is then lacquered to give it shine.
A number of woods are used in Henderson’s artwork. He uses the woods from maple, madrone, juniper, mahogany, walnut and tropical hardwood trees, just to name a few. One bowl he made from an apricot tree.
Many of the pieces are made from tree burls, which are deformities that grow on a tree that are oftentimes caused by insect and mold infestations.
Despite their unappealing causes, tree burls are sought-after, Henderson said. Pieces made from burls contain colors and patterns that give the wood depth and character.
While many pieces take Henderson 40 to 50 hours to make, he estimates that one bowl, which contains 2,000 colorful pieces of wood, took him 100 hours to complete.
“I like the grain,” he said, pointing to a piece made from a maple tree burl. “I just like wood.”
Henderson’s wood work is on display at the Link River Gift Shop at the Favell Museum, 125 W. Main St., through July.