March 25, 2013
's vessel "Orion" contains 883 pieces of Bubinga, Yellowheart, Bloodwood, and Ebony. Each piece was cut to a tolerance of 1/1000
of an inch, glued into rings following Tom's own meticulous sketch and mathematical calculations to produce segments of the desired design, and allowed to cure.
Next, the rings were fitted to each other, stacked and glued together in a press, and again allowed to cure. They were then carefully turned on a lathe, a crucial and delicate process bringing the work to its finished shape. The final steps involved a series of sanding and hand-rubbed finishing to bring out the natural smoothness and colors of the wood. Each of Tom's unique pieces goes through the same steps with some pieces taking weeks to finish and others taking months.
The process of segmented wood turning has been around for only the last 100 years, and is often mistaken for inlay. However, in inlay the individual pieces are set into a background material. In segmented wood turning each piece is carried all the way through the object so that the design is seen on both the outside and inside of the bowl or vessel.
One of Tom's most delightful designs, "Insomnia", shows this clearly with half circles cut in two different colored woods and assembled at various angles throughout the piece. The 155 pieces of Maple, Bloodwood, Bubinga, Walnut and Yellowheart kept the artist awake at night solving the intricacies of incorporating arcs in his work.
Tom's "Crossroads" is the only piece so far that does not allow the viewer to see the design all the way through the object, and that is because it is a hollow sphere and one of the most intriguing of the artist's works. The 314-piece Walnut, Yellowheart, Ebony, Bloodwood and Maple globe with a turquoise composite ring symbolizes the roads and paths one travels throughout life on earth. Tom also created the 112-piece stand that the sphere sits on for display.