About the Artist: Bill Haskell
Bill has a degree in Economics and spent more than 30 years in aerospace financial management. But even as a youth, Bill had a keen interest in making art objects and creative expression. He pursued that interest in several mediums, including silver jewelry and metal sculpture, but mainly in wood.
Bill’s first encounter with woodturning occurred in Junior High School woodshop, where a few bowls were turned using poor tools and little instruction. The memory of this woodturning experience and attendant gratification remained with him through the years. Toward the end of his career in aerospace finance, he became more interested in and then excited by turning wood on a lathe. Then, in 1989 he bought a secondhand lathe from a friend, and a new career was born.
Bill is largely self-taught, but he has attended numerous woodturning symposiums and demonstration classes over the years. At the demonstrations, renowned professional and international wood turners teach the techniques and woodturning principles, as well as design concepts. These have been an invaluable educational source for Bill.
Mentoring numerous turners in his workshop, demonstrating techniques to various woodturning association chapters and other venues, and exhibiting at local art shows are some of the woodturning activities in which Bill has been involved. The Home & Garden television channel filmed him creating a piece of art on the lathe and performing the biomorphic piercing work he incorporates into some of his pieces.
Natural elements found in timber (which some might call imperfections) are often used to advantage by Bill in his work. Such features as bark inclusions, unusual figures, distressed areas, spalting (which is the initial state of decomposition where a fungus invades the wood cells), natural edges and sapwood/heartwood color contrast are often employed to achieve striking and unusual character in combination with complementary forms.
In recent years, Bill has used carved and/or pierced designs to enhance his pieces after the lathe work is complete. In most of these cases, a less dramatic wood is used to minimize competition between the natural character of the wood and the carved or pierced design. Examples of his carved and pierced work can be found in his vessels with tuxedo and seed pod openings, as well as in his coral series and flowing ribbon carved vessels.
Bill’s work is on permanent exhibit at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, and has been displayed at the Racine Art Museum and numerous other exhibits.
His work has been published in Two-in-One; Woodturning, a book by Phil Irons, as the cover of the Collectors of Wood Art 2010 Directory, and he was featured in the July 2012 issue of “Woodturning Magazine”.
As a field and an artistic medium, woodturning has exploded during the past 50 years. I find it especially meaningful and fulfilling to be part of this creative direction, as well as in new and exciting ways by the artistic and technical avenues into which this medium has expanded and continues to grow.
In my turning, I seek to explore and refine form as a composition. Creating a turned piece is an adventure, from seeing what a tree section will reveal when cut and shaped, to fashioning an appealing spinning form on the lathe.
I usually work with domestic woods rather than exotic foreign woods, preferring to obtain local wood with rich color or figure from urban trees that needed to be removed. Finely finished wood is a warm, sensuous, inviting, and tactile material, but creating a beautiful form in each piece is the primary objective. My ultimate goal is to create an appealing shape that is complementary with the distinctive quality of the wood used in each one-of-a-kind piece. Often times, I will further enhance my work by carving, piercing, or texturing a design on the wood surface to achieve a more interesting and attractive piece.