Tampa woodworker reveals unseen art in trees

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Woodturner and artist John Williams estimates he's balancing 40 projects right now. His home workshop is filled with raw, reclaimed wood, items that need sanding and sealing, and tons of hand tools and equipment.

His living room features the finished products, an array of sinks, bowls, and art.

"Anybody that's been involved with wood probably has the same feeling about it. It's just really enjoying seeing wood getting revealed for what it is," he said.

He shared some of his creative process Wednesday, turning a small piece of tree bark into a piece of art. As the wood turned on his lathe, he pointed out what he sees, his ideas, and what he's doing with the tools he's using.

As he shaved the wood, red marks became visible. Some looked like painted flames.

"You'll find these little holes. They're always inside where the red is," he explained. "The beetles have bored in and do whatever it is that they do to make it that way."

He also pointed out a piece of bark buried deep in the piece of wood.

"I really like leaving a piece of the natural edge in there to give them a sense of the tree," he said.

Tree talk comes naturally for Williams. His father was a woodworker and taught him the basics of the craft. His grandfather taught him how to use a lathe -- the machine that spins the piece of wood to allow it to be carved, sanded, or otherwise manipulated -- when he was a little kid

"I think the feeling I get when I turn something and get past the bark and into the wood and all of the sudden something you [thought was] there start showing. It's a eureka moment," he said.

The craft takes time. After working on the small piece of wood, he estimates that he's only 30 percent complete. The piece needs to be sanded and sealed with multiple layers of epoxy.

He might make it to the various art shows he attends, including Gasparilla for the past five years, or it could end up on urbanwoodcreations.com.