Tucked in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, CA among 1.3 million people (twice the population of Vermont), is a handsome and very inviting house. The house, like the others around it, is tree lined and orderly. This particular house though, with its orange trees in the yard has a little secret – a wood turning craftsman who turns discarded chunks of wood into beautiful works of useful art. For Don Gustavson, wood turning is just a hobby, done in his spare time. “I started by watching a few videos and went from there”.
Don’s shop is an open air garage sharing space with gardening tools and storage boxes. He gives me a tour as he describes his process. His bowls usually have a solid base and then rings of different colored woods above the base. These rings are made by sawing strips of wood to varying widths and lengths. Using a homemade jig, Don cuts little pie shaped wedges which he can then glue together to form a ring. Using this method, the grain of the wood is in the proper direction for turning, and it look really cool! These rings are then laminated together, glued to the base, and turned on the lathe.
Don uses many different species of wood. He uses maple from the scrap bin at Home Depot, pine and cherry from local friends, as well as exotic woods that he orders on-line like coca-bola, padaak, makore and ebony. He also uses strips of colored veneer to add definition and contrast. You never know what you might find in a home surrounded by millions of others in a state far far away! Don is encouraged by family to do more art shows and sell his work. He is reluctant and he feels he still has much to learn, but I say the bowls speak for themselves! I know when I return home I will be sending him some good solid Vermont hardwood to add to his works of art. Thanks for sharing Don.