Bob Garrett

Bob creates hand-hewn bowls from Aspen and Ponderosa logs using ax, adze, draw knife and gouge. The use of local Aspen and Ponderosa bring a Rocky Mountain twist to a traditionally Eastern United States art form.

Bob moved to Black Forest in 2010 achieving a life-long dream to live in the Rockies. In 2014 he was able to retire and begin to explore the remote wild areas of Colorado’s high country.  In the winters, as the streams and beaver ponds get a bit thick and fishing becomes problematic, Bob turns to wood working.

Bob has a long woodworking history: building furniture, steam bending wood to making fishing nets, and carving. When living along the Chesapeake Bay he made dozens of his own hand-carved duck decoys to fool local ducks and on occasion even a Bald Eagle. About a decade ago his wife had returned from a trip to the Southern Appalachians and asked him to make her hand-hewn bowls like she had seen; this began an interesting journey of discovery. Unlike turning bowls on a lath, hand hewing bowls requires green trees, so the local lumber yard is useless. Initial attempts using neighborhood, storm damaged, Poplar trees resulted only in growing mold and cracked wood.

Fire mitigation needs in Black Forest provide for many fresh native Ponderosa logs and Bob then had a wood supply to start learning the techniques for using axe, adze, draw-knife and carving gouge. Finding the right piece of Ponderosa with internal character is challenging. Then too, the knots are killer on tools. The Colorado mountains provided the answer: Aspen. All one needs to do is find a mature Aspen in the fall, on accessible public land, before the snow flies, where BLM will sell you a permit, and get it off the mountain.

So Bob, now with Aspen logs stored in his back yard, is carving bowls this winter with the unique character and coloration found in our native Colorado Aspen. Each bowl takes several months to complete. The process begins with cutting a section of log out of the log starting a 24-hour clock to remove 90+ of the wood by hand so they are thin enough not to crack upon drying. The roughed-out bowls then dry for one to two months followed by final carving and finishing.

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