Inspirations in Wood Art: Maurice Clabaugh

posted May 16, 2012, 12:08 PM by Friends of Hurricane Creek
"My new turning style involved using wood only in its natural raw form with all the blemishes included. I believed that the wood remained a living object even after it is cut, so I attuned myself with its spirit."
Maurice Clabaugh in an interview

Gargoyles was turned from a wood knot that came to life.

    Maurice Clabaugh wasn't always a woodturner (his PhD is in a different topic altogether), but everything in his life led him up to where he is right now, a woodturning visionary in the heart of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
    He began turning in 1991. Before that, he had no formal training in any art form, and had no knowledge of lathe turnings as well. He is completely self-taught and uses his keen observations and innate ability to focus on nature's extraordinary handiwork (i.e., bark inclusions, wood grain figures, knotholes and various wood colorations). 
    He has trained himself to become a wood turner and artist who specializes in "natural" contemplative art pieces. He creates his pieces in harmony with, and brings special attention to, the unique variations nature places in each piece of wood he turns.  
    Each piece of art tells the story of a unique tree, and each piece of wood is as distinct as the nose on someone's face. For Gargoyles, Mr. Clabaugh used an oak knot. His website offers the background perspective:

Live oak timber was once important for ship building. The United States' first publicly-owned lands were purchased as early as 1799 to preserve trees for this purpose. Called 'Live Oak' because of the evergreen foliage, known for its broad trunk buttressed at the base, forking into a few nearly horizontal, long branches providing a broad crown. The live oak is also known for its unusual burl-type knots which form on the trunk

Most turners consider these knots as defects and remove them before attempting to use the wood. Maurice sought to combine conventional turning turning and carving to highlight the uniqueness of the knots. Often multi-centered turning was necessary to turn these pieces. Several unique and contemplative art pieces were the result of his decision to turn these knots.

    If you'd like to learn woodturning, Mr. Clabaugh currently teaches classes to persons age 11 and older. We are excited to see what incredible turnings he contributes to the Creek Wood Art Contest, an effort to bring life and beauty from the trees torn down by the 2011 tornados. Until then, go ahead and get lost in the wonder of Mr. Clabaugh's inspiring tree tales

Learn more about the woodturning world of Maurice Clabaugh: