|Artist Helga Winter speaking at the Nov. 14 CQA meeting|
|Some of Winter's turned bowls and "spheroid" shapes, after use of paints and/or dyes|
Winter came to her wood-turning focus in a roundabout way. Born in a small town in Germany, she was exposed to sewing, knitting and fiber crafts in her home but didn't see this as her own creative path. She came to the U.S. as young person, studied Education at the University of Texas at Austin, and received a graduate degree in Special Education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.
During her graduate studies she did include one art class, and found that she loved it. It was at this time that she happened into a woodworking shop and began collecting wood scraps for projects with her special-ed students. On visits to the shop, she became fascinated with the work being done and, with great persistence, managed to get the shop owner to allow her to apprentice as a furniture maker. Winter eventually tried her hand at wood turning and became adept enough to acquire some grants in 1982. The materials she was using at this time were all hardwoods, native to the region.
|These spheroid wood shapes are highly embellished|
Winter moved to Pt. Townsend in 1987 and soon became acquainted with the native Madrone trees--a softwood variety quite different from the furniture stocks she had been used to. She learned that the Madrone was "ornery," in that no matter what changes she imposed, the worked wood always wanted to "take its shape back." She noted that in time "you learn to read the tree: crotches, where limbs join the trunk, are always good to use as they are strong."
|Winter uses a chain saw to cut a "blank" from a donated Madrone tree.|
|A Madrone "blank" readied for the lathe|
|The metal fitting on the bottom of the blank readies it for mounting on the lathe.|
|A "slimmed-down" blank ready to be turned into a bowl|
|Outside of the future bowl. A finished little "foot" will be shaped later.|
|Above and below: the setup for turning the inside of the bowl|
|Finished inside of the bowl|
|Turning the foot|
|Above: the finished bowl, off the lathe. Below: the same bowl after it's completely dry. Note the change in shape characteristic of Madrone!|
Madrone turns brown as it dries, so Winter completes her pieces by embellishing with paints or dyes or, often, pigmented wax, so that the finished piece may look as if it's pottery or glass instead of wood, thus drawing the viewer in for a closer look. Whereas paint can obscure the wood's grain, dyes will let the grain show through. Some of her pieces are spheroid in shape rather than bowls; these are created as two halves and glued together.
|Blue dye colors the inside of this bowl. The outside is encaustic wax in translucent colors applied with "hot brushes," showing the various wax layers.|
|Winter will use an acrylic gesso to collage pieces of map on finished bowls, along with paints and dyes as embellishments.|
|(Above and below) Various layers of dyes, waxes and paint completely disguise the wood origins of these bowls.|
|Spheroids (above and below) are formed of two pieces glued together. Acrylic gesso is used to transfer portions of maps on these two pieces.|
|Here the red color came from paper than was "transferred" to the bowl.|
|Dismantled books provide stacks of paper of different widths.|
|Winter tears the pages into strips of varying widths, using a hacksaw blade mounted on a piece of wood.|
|Here, the torn pages were staggered and sewn together in 5-page "signatures," wax added, and the resulting piece mounted on board.|
|A more "measured" mounting of torn pages, with colored wax added.|
|Here, the sewing "strings" form a visual element in the board-mounted, waxed pages.|
|The elements inside the boxes are "tubes" [below] formed from torn book pages with colored wax added. The tubes, in turn, are folded into angular shapes and fitted into the boxes.|
|This piece, full of folded, waxed tubes, measures 24 by 24 inches.|
Winter's works are on display in a number of galleries in the Pacific Northwest. For more about her works and pictures of her extensive series of bowls, go to helgawinter.com.