Dean Arneson

artist Dean Arneson

wood turner, Dean Arneson

In November of 2011 I moved in with my father, then 86, to help him with his recovery from hip surgery.

I had just been laid off from my operations manager job in Denver and was getting ready to move back to my home of 40 years, Glenwood Springs. The hip surgery was the beginning of several and it turned out that we would be helping each other for the next four years. I will always be eternally grateful for this time that I got to spend with him.

It was during this time that I was introduced to segmented wood turning. We went to a holiday arts & crafts fair and this guy had a booth with several of them. Most were about 12” tall and all one species of wood, but I was stunned at the concept. After talking with him I started watching YouTube videos of the process, buying books, templates, a computer program. And started building jigs and presses.

Dad enjoyed woodworking in general, and he had turned many a fine vessel, so he had the tools. And what he didn’t have, I did, holdovers from my design/build company.

These hollow forms would not be easily created without computer assisted design. The program I used was Woodturner Pro. It was invaluable in allowing me to produce shapes and designs. Using different species of wood enabled me to create patterns in the vessels. The main woods that I used were hard maple, red oak, padouk, walnut, wenge and purpleheart.

These are built from the bottom up, whether it be the entire vase or section of a vase. They are assembled row by row. Each segment, for every row, has it’s size and angle of cut predetermined by the design created on Woodturner Pro. I would usually glue up 4 or 5 rows and then turn them on the lathe, add some more and turn again until I had a predetermined section.

I am, of course, speaking in the past tense. I don’t do this anymore. I had the opportunity to explore this medium while I was taking care of my Dad. He had the tools. He had the space. And I had the time. That time has passed. I made about 30 of these, several were just the first practice vases done in poplar and given away. These are the last 10. Each is one of a kind. This is a very limited edition.

I had worked with wood my whole life, from framing houses to turning these vases. I gravitated to this endeavor very easily and really enjoyed the process and result. That said, works this size are a lot of work, generally 70-80 hours of sawing, gluing, lathe turning, sanding, finishing and polishing and cleaning up. Start to finish it is a complicated and precise series of labor intensive steps.

I am very happy to have you see these. They have had very little public exposure. I’m very grateful to Lynne Mace and Toklat Gallery for the opportunity to bring them to you.

Thank you,
     — C. Dean Arneson

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