“I love wood,” says woodturner Greg Wandless. ”I love the feel, the warmth, the look, the way it warms up a home.” Visitors to the 2020 Chatham Studio the first two weekends in December will have the opportunity of experiencing Greg’s beautiful wooden bowls, art vessels, peppermills and custom writing instruments.
Greg has been working with wood as long as he can remember. “My father had a shop in the basement,” he remembers. “We enjoyed making furniture together from early on.” Greg has been woodturning since the year 2000. “I got into woodturning because my wife asked me to make a Cheval mirror,” He explained that a Cheval mirror is a tall, tilting mirror that pivots between two side columns. “I didn’t have a lathe to make the side columns. And I couldn’t justify buying a lathe for just one piece of furniture, so I built my first lathe to turn the supporting columns.” The finished cherry cheval mirror was just what Greg’s wife wanted. And that first lathe lasted for twelve years until Greg purchased his current 990-pound beast.
Greg’s life has been steeped in science. He earned a BS degree in chemistry from George Mason University. “During my senior year, I got the opportunity to work at the US Geological Survey in the Branch of Analytical Chemistry,” he remembers. “After I got my degree I was hired as a fulltime chemist to work with a geochemistry expert who focused on lunar science, analyzing rocks from the Apollo moon missions. It was such a stimulating and exciting environment that I stayed for another 37 years!” After working on the moon rocks, Greg also worked in environmental science, analyzing stable isotopes to characterize acid mine drainage sites, helping determine how mines impact local environments.
Greg and his potter wife Amy moved to their new home in Chatham’s Cedar Grove in June of 2020 and built side-by-side studios. His concern for the environment now extends to his craft. “No trees are harmed in my work,” he quips, “they are all fresh from the great outdoors — fallen logs from storms or from dying naturally — recycled into artwork before they go to the burn pile or landfill.“
“I am a journey person, so for me the crafting of the piece, whether it is a piece of furniture, a functional bowl or a piece of wood art is most fulfilling”, Greg states. “The interaction between a person and the final piece is also important to me. To watch someone pick up a piece I’ve made, hold it, rub it, caress it, sniff it and smile — is so gratifying.” His pieces sell from $25 to $400 and can be viewed online at www.wandlesscrafts.com.
For years, Greg and his wife have participated extensively in craft shows, but the move to Chatham and the restrictions of the COVID pandemic have temporarily curtailed craft shows. He is currently concentrating on his debut in the Chatham Studio Tour.
As a woodworker, Greg says, “Wood is a living thing, it is constantly moving, and the ways it can change and distort a turned object is always an enjoyable surprise. I hope that people who come to our studio will have an appreciation of how beautiful wood art pieces can be – artwork transformed from a simple log. To me, wood is a very sensory material. The aromas that evolve from wood as it is cut are so varied and inspiring, the touch of a hand across a newly finished turning is very satisfying.”
You will not see the sign Do Not Touch on any work in Greg’s woodshop!
Visitors to this year’s Chatham Studio Tour will be able to see and purchase Greg’s woodart at Wandless Crafts Studios.