For the love of wood

No better way is there to learn to love Nature than to understand Art. It dignifies every flower of the field. And, the boy who sees the thing of beauty which a bird on the wing becomes when transferred to wood or canvas will probably not throw the customary stone.
Oscar Wilde

(fresh strawberries on a walnut trivet / Julie Cook / 2015)

(a walnut trivet topped with a couple of fried squash / Julie Cook / 2015)

When I first started this little blog of mine, or as my husband lovingly (cough cough) references as that “blob”, I was truly wet behind the ears not having a clue as to what I was doing.
I’d never “blogged” before nor was I any sort of computer guru, “thecie” or wizened journalist.
I was just a newly retired teacher who still had some “teach” left in me.

I started posting some pictures I’d taken, some words I’d written, some recipes I’d cooked and little by little I had some folks stopping in for a “visit”— eventually some of the visitors decided they liked what they saw, or read, or both, and wanted to hang around a while. . .

One of those early visitors happened to be a man named Michael.
Michael, who is also retired, lives in the neighboring state of South Carolina. Michael loves to cook, garden and enjoys living on “the mountain” as he lovingly refers to his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
It seems that Michael has channeled those retired energies into his wood shop—as in he makes things.
All sorts of beautiful wooden things.

As a former art teacher, I greatly appreciate the gift of talent when I see it.
Michael has the gift—the gift of “eye” and talent in that he can see in a piece of lumber something beautiful.

His creations are not sculptures or decorative pieces of art but rather functional and utilitarian natural pieces of wonder.

Perusing his blog, where he shares his talent, I was amazed by what I saw. And lucky for me, for us, he sells these pieces of functional beauty.

A couple of Christmases back, I wrote a post about Michael’s work–espousing the difference between what makes art art verses the functionality of utilitarian objects—as well as how we may have the rare opportunity of finding both in one object.

Over the past couple of years, I have been blessed to call Michael my friend.
I am also fortunate in that I have several of Michael’s cutting boards gracing my kitchen, a beautiful hand turned step stool, an ice-cream paddle and a handful of hand cut honey wands—I have given Michael’s pieces as both Christmas and wedding gifts.

There is just something very special about the tactile quality, coupled by the visual beauty, of a piece of wood that through both the vision and talent of a human being can take on a life of its own.
Michael is that gifted.

I want to share a few shots of an absolutely beautiful piece of burl wood that Michael has cut, sanded, finished and crafted into a cutting board like no other. Sadly a computer image cannot do justice to the tactile relationship we have with wood. To feel its weight, the smooth sanded core coupled by the rough bark exterior. . .to see the rich warm colors brought out by the lightly oiled surface is certainly best experienced in person. . . however these few pictures will simply have to do—not unless you too decide to wander on over to Michael’s blog where you might want to just try this all out first hand with your own board, birdhouse, honey wand, ice cream paddle or chopping block. . .

Thank you Michael!

(16 x 10 at widest burl cutting board / Julie Cook / 2015)





Along with the cutting board, I received yesterday two walnut trivets / coasters which will match my soon to be table chargers—of which I can’t wait for them to arrive as they will accent my kitchen so beautifully





15 comments on “For the love of wood

  1. Good morning Julie! πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for the Wonderful post, link backs and kind word! Awesome pictures! Big Hugs! Michael

  2. Wally Fry says:

    Julie I loved what you said about having a tactile relationship with wood. That’s true of many things I think. I love to cook and as often as not I use my hands more than any other utensil. My wife sort of thinks I am odd for it. But I know things are right because they feel right.

    And Michaels pieces are awesome what a talent

    • Thanks Wally, I too am very hands on in those creations within the kitchen πŸ™‚ –as I love to cook and create as it were—I also love having “natural” things to work with—loving wood, pottery, etc. . .there is just something of the miraculous in a “handmade” vessel, piece of paper, cutting board, gifts given by the Master Creator πŸ™‚ —-
      Blessing Wally for a marvelous day!!

  3. Lynda says:

    Michael is a craftsman and an artist. What a combination!!

    • that he is Lynda–and a genuine nice guy—-I hope you are enjoying time with your granddaughter!!
      Hope things aren’t too hot your way—they are a bit too toasty down here πŸ™‚
      Happy day!!!

  4. Yvonne says:

    Michael’s work fills me with awe and admiration, he’s a true artist.

    • the computer just doesn’t do it justice—plus he’s about the kindest person I’ve gotten to know—he’s actually in the process of making me 4 walnut plate chargers for my kitchen table that I can’t wait to see!
      Are you in Italy Yvonne or Australia—I can’t keep up πŸ™‚

      • Yvonne says:

        Chuckle! I’ve been back in Australia since the beginning of June, Julie. Now, I’m in the throes of trying to sell my house, so I can move to a part of Oz where there are 4 seasons. Then, I can plan the next trip to Italy.

        I have some friends up here who are skilled with woodwork, I’m always sending them the links to Michael’s blog. (I haven’t seen a post for a while, he must be busy working for you!)

      • I do like my season to be sure—it’s just that summer and winter seem to want to spread themselves outward into my favorite times, Fall and Spring—and it is currently very hot!
        Probably best to be back now–I’ve been to Italy, Florence and Rome, in late July—talk about a sauna!!
        Your’e right, Michael hasn’t posted lately but I do know they had a daughter to get married about two weeks ago so I’m sure there is a needed recovery period πŸ™‚
        Good wishes for selling and moving!! with visions of Italy dancing in your head πŸ™‚

  5. ColorStorm says:

    Especially like the burl. Being fond of trades, I can appreciate the time and skill that goes into the final product. Reminds me of Another woodworker………….yea, the One who made the tree πŸ˜‰

    Good stuff Jules.

  6. I bought one of Michael’s mirrors and I absolutely love it. Thanks for introducing him to me. Love you, N. πŸ™‚

  7. Julie says:

    Beautiful pieces. I love wood and pottery, too. And food! What are those blueberries floating in? And what are those cookies?

    • Hi Julie—actually those blueberries are floating in a mimosa—prosecco and orange juice and those “cookies” are actually fried squash—it was all I had at the time I took the pictures—so I figured I’d dress things up a tad πŸ™‚
      Thank you for the kind words πŸ™‚

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