Here at Practical Art, we love the sensations of handmade goods– smooth glass, sanded wood, soft wool fibers, scented wax, vibrant palettes, cool metals. We know that our mom, too, greatly appreciated the encaustic wax finish of the Lara Plecas art piece she received, or the deliberate color choices of the Pat Mahoney planters, chosen just for her. With the success of our Mother’s Day selections, we figure it’s never too early to start getting ideas for Father’s Day (dads are pretty important, too!). When we visited William Letterman’s studio, we knew that his woodturned vessels were perfect.
Letterman began turning wood 10 years ago. He began with pens, and soon progressed to bowls and vases, and then more advanced techniques of inlays, segmented works, and burl pieces. Using a mixture of classic and self-taught techniques, Letterman’s work is flawless.
First, Letterman selects a brilliant series of colored woods to pattern his bowls and vessels. After strategically designing flat rings out of the wood, patterned with the various shades, he then makes additional rings, increasing in size. He glues those rings of wood together to create the rough shape of the desired piece. With great precision, Letterman uses a lathe to spin the wood, and turns a tool down the slope, re-shaping and thinning the walls of the vessel. Sanding and applying a finish complete the process. Letterman works hard to perfect his craft and create one of a kind pieces and custom pieces based on a buyer’s request. The result is a beautiful, natural, and functional piece of art.
Get a head start on your Father’s Day shopping by coming to Practical Art and exploring the work of William Letterman and more than 130 other Arizona artisans. We can’t wait to see you soon!