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Wood art gives old limbs new purpose
Wood turned pieces by George Cooper and Rob Patrick are on display through Aug. 9 at The Center Gallery and Gallery Too in Sautee.

‘World Around Us/Slice of Life'

Wood turned pieces by George Cooper and Rob Patrick

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Fridays through Aug. 9
Where: The Center Gallery and Gallery Too, Sautee Nacoochee Center, 283 Ga. 255 N, Sautee
How much: Free
More info: 706-878-3300

SAUTEE — Rob Patrick of Sautee has been turning wood for four years, but he said he picked up the craft quickly by watching and learning from other wood turners.

Patrick took two classes from a local wood turner and went to club meetings in Hayesville, N.C., and "whatever skill was being taught or discussed or whatever, or item being made, I would go home and do my best to make one."

Doing rather than just taking notes helped him learn, he said.

"In doing that I learned various skills and really fast, too, because it was fresh in my mind," Patrick said. "I had just watched somebody do it."

The practice resulted in Patrick's intricate vases, bowls and boxes, some of which are on display along with work by George Cooper in "World Around Us/Slice of Life," at The Center Gallery and Gallery Too at the Sautee Nacoochee Center.

Patrick said he often begins with local wood because "there's so many varieties within a short drive."

"A tree will fall in a storm or something," Patrick said. "We don't go out and cut a tree for the sake of the wood. We just pick it up wherever it's naturally died."

For some of his large bowls, which have an uneven grain and rough edges, Patrick begins with a burl of wood.

"A burl is that great big, ugly cancerous looking thing on the side of a tree," said Patrick. "And that's the reason the grain is not all in line or what have you."

Patrick said he uses some exotic wood in his pieces, including purple heart and pink ivory, which makes his work colorful.

One such piece is a vase Patrick named "Kaleidoscope Dreaming," which he said took about 40 hours to complete.

For pieces like "Kaleidoscope Dreaming," Patrick said he cuts the wood into various sizes of rings and mitered chunks, which are cut to form a ring when fitted together. He then stacks them together, gluing as he goes.

The result is a rough vase shape.

The glue dries and then Patrick smooths the edges on a lathe.

"Instead of a saw blade turning and cutting the wood, the wood turns and the blade is sitting on a rest," Patrick said.

Special pieces sometimes include mineral slices or granules, which Patrick sets in place with glue and sands to a smooth, shimmery finish.

Patrick said he was inspired for one particular piece, called "Whimsical," by a sunny day.

"It was a warm day in the spring, when it had just been cold and miserable, and I said ‘I'm going to make something whimsical,'" Patrick said.