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Woodturning News: General News

HOMETOWN FOCUS: Finding the beauty Mother Nature put into wood (03/02/2018)

Friday, March 2, 2018   (0 Comments)
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“It’s fun to see what Mother Nature has put into the wood,” Jerry Maly of Meadowlands tells us (my husband Art and me). And he is able to find the beauty in the wood as it sits in “chunk” form in his woodshop. Sometimes he’ll look at a chunk of wood many times before deciding what he wants to do with it. Carol, his wife of 54 years, shared that the bigger the challenge, the happier he is.

Jerry receives wood pieces from loggers, rescues some from the wood pile, and some arrive anonymously as dropped off pieces in his yard. Usually he finds out who donated it to him, but sometimes he doesn’t. He’s even been given old pilings which have been under the waters of Lake Superior for years.

When Jerry was attending Toivola-Meadowlands High School, he made a couple of wooden items and felt drawn to the art of woodturning. But through the years, working, raising a family, building a home, and farming took priority, and he didn’t have the time to work with a lathe or wood tools again until retirement. Sixteen years ago he began to work with wood once again, and many people have been the happy recipients of his artwork.

He does most of his turning during the colder months because “there’s always too much other stuff to do during the summer,” he said. Woodturning is a hobby that has become a small business for Jerry and Carol. They typically attend six shows each year to sell his handcrafted art.


Jerry belongs to a woodturning group in Duluth, as well as the National Woodturners Association. In both cases he’s gained ideas about how to work with the wood and items to create. At the Sax-Zim Birding Festival in Meadowlands recently, his table had everything from beautiful bowls, salt and pepper grinder combos, little boxes, purse holders, vases, kitchen items like ice cream scoops and bottle openers, and cute little snowmen and trees…all of them made with wood. He even created a clock with wooden gears that he had made of Baltic birch. It was his fourth clock of that type, each one distinctive, because “it’s more fun to be making something different.”

He showed us a bowl he made from a burl, or growth, on a tree and two of the smaller bowls made from the internal part of that burl. The smaller ones could nest inside the largest bowl, just as that wood had been inside the burl earlier. In addition to the beautiful grain of the tree, there was the rough bark left around the outside, adding even more interest to the piece.

Jerry enjoys working with pieces of wood that contain a crotch, where branches go off the main trunk, and we saw, in one of his turned bowls, the feathering appearance of where those branches had been.

It’s easy to see how fascinating woodworking can be with the various wood grains which come out as the wood is turned and from the many different species of wood that are available.

“I’d like to live another whole life so that I can do all the things I want to do,” Jerry said.

And we’d like another whole life so that we can see more of the creations that you and Mother Nature make together, Jerry.


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