Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Works by Don Lindsley, trees and rocks united again, creatively

Don Lindsley at his studio
Don Lindsley, wood turner from East Setauket, has his father to thank for two of his major interests - science and working with wood.

Don's scientific path took interesting turns. It was obvious to him that he would follow his father's steps and become a scientist, a physicist, as a matter of fact. During one of their many walks through woods, father and son decided not only to enjoy the outdoors but also to learn more about it.
Bowl by Don Lindsley,
black walnut and malachine
They divided the expert areas - father was to cover trees and flowers, son to contribute information about rocks. For Don a new, fascinating world opened - he majored in geology at Princeton and obtained a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. He has now retired from a Geosciences Chair at the Stony Brook University.

Lindsleyite, a mineral named
after Don Lindsley
Don's contributions to geosciences was recognized by having a mineral, Lindsleyite, named after him in the early 1980s. It was discovered by his postdoctoral student in South Africa, then went through a rigorous review by an international body of scientists. A few rare samples of Lindsleyite are housed at The Smithsonian, British Museum, and American Museum of Natural History among others.

Don's father, an amateur wood turner and furniture maker in the times of Depression, carved a small bowl from a limb of a walnut tree and then challenged Don to carve a matching bowl from the other half of the limb. Don did. Both bowls are still amongst Don's cherished possessions, with their rich dark walnut color and a smooth surface intact.

Vase by Don Lindsley,
cherry and malachine
Don inherited his father's lathe, let is sit unattended for some time, then dusted if off while searching for a creative outlet during a stressful period in his otherwise fulfilling professional life. He started from basics, learned by trial and error, developed his own technique, benefited from the expert advice of his fellow wood turners at the Long Island Woodturners Association. Don, as a rule, uses wood from Long Island trees, some felled withing a stone throw from his studio. He likes turning green.

Bowl by Don Lindsley,
cherry and malachite
Bowl by Don Lindsley,
black locust

While visiting Santa Fe he was inspired by a wood carver who inserted turquoise into the wood. Don tried to work turquoise into his own pieces, but found it too hard. Instead he picked two close chemical brothers - green malachite and dark blue azurite, for his works. Don crashes the minerals (it breaks his geologist's heart to do so), binds them with an adhesive and inserts them into the crevices. He also uses fossilized coral, particularly on pieces turned from box elder, to merry the pink / salmon hues of both. The striking appearance of colorful stone on wood makes Don's art stand out.

Azurite stoneGround azurite and malachite
Bowl by Don Lindsley,
patches of green malachite
in a large cherry bowl
Bowl by Don Lindsley,
azurite inserted into
a bowl made of American beech

He does not carve or varnish his pieces, he likes the wood to shine through. All Don's pieces are covered with a thin layer of a food-safe finish. More on Don's work can be found on his website The Well Turned Bowl. We invite you for a tour of the artist's workshop.

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