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Woodturning News: General News

ITEMLIVE.COM: Marblehead native turns trees into art (04/20/2018)

Monday, April 23, 2018   (0 Comments)
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The windy storms of the late winter months leveled many trees across the area. But in a woodshop tucked in Salem’s Artist Row, logs from those weeping willows sit waiting for their turn to be repurposed for another life.

Tommy Gagnon, a longtime Marblehead resident who recently moved to Salem, owns Boston Woodturning, a shop full of unique pieces crafted using locally-sourced wood.

Just inside the door, Gagnon can be found behind a wood lathe, wearing a face shield adorned with horns, turning and sculpting bulky pieces of wood into hand-crafted art and functional pieces like bowls, platters, and vases.

“What I like about it is the creativity behind it,” said Gagnon. “These pieces of wood have stories. They come from different places. Some pieces have sentimental value and others historical.”

His collection includes chunks of black locust from Marblehead’ Peach’s Point and maple logs from the Salem Willows.

Mike and Kathy Campbell traveled from Upton to the Salem shop Friday afternoon to drop off pieces of their beloved red oak tree and have them crafted into invaluable memorabilia.

The four stumps from the tree, which was at least 100 years old, were each more than 200 pounds, said Mike Campbell.

He described the tree to be the centerpiece of their family home, towering over their yard until it was killed by insects.

“It was a great tree,” he said. “My wife wants (Gagnon) to make three bowls out of it.”

Two of the bowls will be given to their daughters and the third will remain in their home, he said.

Gagnon recently created art from black locust logs from Marblehead. One sits in a quaint display within his shop, and a second was donated to a Marblehead-based nonprofit, SPUR, which was established to inspire good deeds and connect young people with volunteer opportunities. It will be auctioned off to benefit the organization.

Each piece is created during several sessions that can last many hours. Oftentimes, the plan Gagnon envisions changes as he works with the cracks and imperfections of the wood. Rather than covering up the marks, he lets the uniqueness of the wood  dictate the direction he is going in with the work.

“The closest place that I know of that does what I do is in Costa Rica,” said Gagnon. “There is not another place that I know of in the country that takes local wood and creates usable pieces. I’m testing myself to be a better artist with every piece.”

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