About the Artist

Eric Reeves’ woodturning career began while he was a teenager growing up in South Pasadena, California.  Inspired by an otherwise dull junior high school film about furniture-making in colonial Williamsburg, he was completely taken with the working of a spindle lathe.  Within a year he had purchased his own equipment, using profits from his neighborhood  gardening enterprises.  The tools were a Sears Craftsman ¼ – horsepower beginner’s lathe, several gauges and scrapers and a faceplate ($89 – real money for a fifteen-year old boy in 1965!).

It was more than twenty-five years later that family and professional life (he is a professor of English at Smith College) permitted Eric to return with seriousness to his boyhood hobby-years during which woodturning had established itself fully as a serious craft art.  Turners such as Bert Marsh, David Ellsworth, Richard Raffan, John Jordan, Mike Schuler, and others had set extraordinary technical and aesthetic standards.

Eric’s response to the challenges was to emulate, but also to attempt technically distinctive work (he has moved well beyond his original Sears lathe) and to establish his own design sense.  He would be the first to acknowledge his indebtedness to many fine woodturners, including Lane Philips of Provo, Utah.  But he also takes pride in the fact that his work has previously appeared in the craft art galleries where woodturning is particularly featured, including the del Mano Gallery (Los Angeles), the Snyderman Gallery (Philadelphia), and the Northwest Gallery of Fine Woodworking (Seattle).  After an absence from woodturning of six years because of medical challenges, he has returned to woodturning and placement of his work in galleries, and hopes to participate again in wooturning shows.

One feature of Eric’s gallery work is unique:  all profits he receives, from all sales, are donated to humanitarian relief organizations working in greater Sudan, an attempt to help alleviate terrible deprivation and suffering in this ravaged land.  For 15 years, in addition to professional and family responsibilities, and a grim battle with leukemia, he has worked as a researcher, analyst and advocate for a country that has known nothing but war for nearly the entirety of its half century of existence.  He has published and lectured widely, nationally and internationally, and on several occasions has testified before Congress (see www.sudanreeves.org). His vehicle for charitable giving is the “Sudan Aid Fund”, administered by the community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (see www.sudanreeves.org/sudan-aid-fund).

To contact me about purchasing woodturnings, please use my email address: ereeves923@gmail.com


Woods I commonly use in my woodturning:

Amboyna      [Pterocarpus indicus (family: Leguminosae)]       Light yellow to golden brown to brick red, with often wavy grain, Amboyna is a beautiful turning wood that works well with Cobocolo. Its burl form is one of the most sought after turning woods in the world—yet another species that has become prohibitively expensive.

Bocote (Mexican Rosewood)     [Cordia alliodora]        Not really a Rosewood (family Dalbergia), Bocote is nonetheless a beautiful tropical American hardwood with a medium coarseness and dramatic grain pattern. It can also be spectacularly colorful.

Bubinga     [Guibourtia demusei, Family: Leguminosae)]        This beautiful wood from South Africa has striking color—pale reddish to deep burgundy, with moderately course grain.  It has both straight and interlocking grain patterns—and is very hard, thus taking a great finish.

Buckeye Burl     [Aesculus spp, A. flava]        Buckeye and related species are native to the eastern United States.  The timber is not particularly interesting, but in its Burl form Buckeye more than makes up for this: the wood is soft, with a palette of grays, whites, blacks, and some brown.  The patterns that are generated by these colors are simply spectacular, like no other burl wood in the world.  The variation and shapes in the figure are endlessly fascinating.

Camphor Burl     [Cinnamomum camphora]       A truly extraordinary burl wood, coming mainly from Southeast Asia, Vietnam in particular.  With a rich, reddish primary color—and others swirling— Camphor Burl is most notable for its amazing figure, rivaling that of even the most impressive burl woods from around the world.

Canarywood    [Centrolobium spp., family Leguminosae]          A very beautiful and colorful turning wood, Canarywood has a wide range of yellow to red hues.  It is an ideal turning wood and takes a great finish.

Cherry Burl    [Prunus serotina]        Cherry is a wonderful, warm if rather predictable wood by itself; but in its burl form, it takes on a whole range of extraordinary characteristics: dramatic figuration, bark inclusions, a more varied color range, while still preserving the warmth of Cherry in its more familiar form.

Cocobolo Rosewood    [Dalbergia retusa]       The “queen” of the Rosewoods (Dalbergia family), Cocobolo has long been prize for its beautiful color, grain, and the high finish it produces.  Sadly, the Chinese are now consuming an inordinate amount of Cocobolo, a tropical American hardwood; it may soon become endangered.

Imbuia      [Ocotea porosa]        A fascinating dark wood from southern Brazil with unpredictable and often amazing changes in figure and color, which ranges from dark brown, sometimes with a reddish, golden, or olive-colored cast.

Kingwood      [Dalbergia cearensis]       Kingwood is one of the great true Rosewoods (family Dalbergia).  It is found mainly in Brazil and is distinguished by its gorgeous heartwood colors, ranging from a dark purplish to reddish brown, often with darker streaks. Sapwood is a pale yellow. 

Madrone     [Arbutus menziesii]     A beautiful, subtly colored wood from northern California and Oregon.  It is extremely hard and dense, but has a very gentle figuration.  The wood takes an excellent finish.

Maidou Burl     [Pterocarpus cambodianus]      A beautiful and unusual wood from Southeast Asia, that in both burl and plank form has soft swirling brown and golden colors; sometimes the  plank wood is lacking in the “eyes” that distinguish the burl, but still has gorgeous figure.  It closely resembles and is botanically related to Amboyna Burl.

Manzanita Burl   [Arctostaphylos pungens]      Manzanita Burl is one of the most prized turning woods because of its often brilliant red color and its fantastic irregularities, swirling grain, and superb finish.  Because it is a root burl, growing underground, it often “absorbs” stones, making for considerable turning challenges—but worth it.

Maple Burl    [Acer negundo (family: Aceracea)]     Maple is Burl is an extraordinary turning wood, varying highly in grain qualities, color, spalting (the fungal and bacterial formations that often give burl its distinctive patterning), and degrees of bark and other enclosures.  It is supremely workable.

Figured Maple     [Acer negundo (family: Aceracea)]      Maple has many different kinds of distinctive figure:  “burly,” “fiddleback,” “curly,” “quilted,” and spalted are the primary descriptors.  All make for ideal turning wood.

Myrtle Burl   [Umbellularia californica (family Myrtaceae)]     Wide-ranging and subtle in color and figuration, Myrtle (and its burl form) is an exceptionally beautiful wood. It is native to California, and often has a green-grey hue.

Olivewood     [Olea europaea]      A truly biblical wood, Mediterranean Olivewood has a heartwood that is a cream or yellowish brown, with darker brown or black contrasting streaks. Color tends to deepen with age. Olivewood sometimes has quite beauitiful figure, with curly or wavy grain, burl, or wild grain.

Padauk      [Pterocarpus soauxii (family: Leguminosae)]      Padauk is a particularly fine and colorful turning wood from tropical America.  It darkens dramatically—and beautifully—with age, becoming a golden brown.

Purpleheart     [Peltogyne spp.]      Purpleheart is one of the world’s most dramatically colored woods, and more than lives up to its name. After initial exposure to sunlight, it turns a deep, almost eggplant purple. It is extremely hard and dense, and the most fissile wood I work with: it is a real challenge, but with beautiful results. (This wood in particular needs to be protected from ultraviolet light after turning, or it will slowly become a purplish brown.

Red River Gum Burl     [Eucalyptus camaldulensis]     The fine grain, deep red color and attractive dark speckling of Red River Gum Burl has made it a favorite choice for decorative turnings and sculpture.Unfortunately, its virtues have made it exceedingly expensive.

Redwood Bird’s-eye Burl     [Sequoia sempervirens]     Redwood Bird’s-eye Burl (one of several burl forms in this species), can have truly spectacular figuration, including the “bird’s eyes” of the name.  It is a rich, red color and is a superb turning wood.  Illegal harvesting of the trees has made supply every more questionable, in all senses; I buy only from wood suppliers who make  sustainable harvesting a priority.

Santos Rosewood    [Machaerium scleroxylon]      This substitute for the endangered Brazilian Rosewood has heartwood that ranges from brown to red to a golden orange.  The piece here is at the far end of the brown spectrum for this species.  It is a lustrous wood  and takes a very fine finish.

Satinwood     [Chloroxylon swietenia]      This gorgeous wood from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) has an unrivaled luster among tropical woods. A beautiful golden yellow/brown color also makes it a standout. Unfortunately, over-foresting has led to a severe cutback in availability.

Spalted Tamarind     [Tamarindus indica]      This wood—native to tropical Africa but now found in many tropical climates—has truly extraordinary figure when spalting begins (the action of bacterial or fungal “infections” in the surface of the wood).  The “lines” that give the wood its dramatic figure mark the points where competing organisms meet.  Of course the wood and its  surface are fully stabilized when turned and finished.

Tulipwood     [Dalbergia decipularis]      Tulipwood comes from northeastern Brazil, and is increasingly rare and expensive in the world markets.  But it has beautiful orange to yellow to brown colors and wonderful figure.  It certainly  belongs in the Rosewood (Dalbergia) family.

White Oak     [Quercus alba]      One of the pre-eminent hardwoods of eastern  North America, White Oak has heartwood that ls light brown with paler sapwood; it is heavy, but fine-grained.

Zircote     [Cordia dedecandra]      The heartwood is red-brown in color, with dramatic black veins that are often interlocked in a striking fashion.  From Central America, this lustrous wood takes a very fine finish.