Brian Markham’s skill as a woodturner transforms local and exotic wood and figured burls into unique one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Brian lives in a log cottage on Rebecca Lake near Huntsville and works full-time as a woodturner in his workshop. Built a few years ago, it functions as both a workshop and gallery. Visitors to Limberlost Woodturning studio see the finished pieces amidst the sawdust, seasoned wood and machinery.
The beauty of the natural northern surroundings is reflected in the handcrafted bowls, platters and hollow vessels. A dentist by profession, Brian is able to express his relationship with wood that began with his love of the North as a camper and canoe guide in his teens, and as a cottager for most of his life. Some of Brian’s most vivid early memories are of watching his grandfather in his workshop and learning to use the lathe as a boy.
Brian works with local varieties of maple, yellow birch, cherry, walnut and exotic woods to create beautiful and functional woodturned designs. “Each piece of wood is different, but my favourite is burl. Burl is a rounded growth on the side of a tree that interrupts the growth pattern and results in peculiar and uniquely formed figured wood. The character, the imperfections of the burl and the detail of the grain are all incorporated into the finished platter or bowl.”
Knots, natural flaws, and bark inclusions which have grown through the heart of the wood transform a functional piece into a work of art. Brian spends time looking at the raw wood to find the unique line and form that lies within. Simplicity of design allows the innate beauty of the wood to shine.
“People love to touch my work. The tactile nature of wood creates a sense of pleasure and an appreciation of texture in a handcrafted piece. The process of sanding, polishing and a specially-blended tung oil finish produces a durable, food-safe surface. I usually apply about four to five coats of oil, which brings out the natural colour and grain. You appreciate the brilliance of the wood, its smooth surface and it presents your food beautifully.”
Brian’s workshop on Rebecca Lake is a perfect setting in the woods to provide artistic inspiration from nature and the outdoors.
Limberlost Woodturning is open to the public for the Artists of the Limberlost Open Studio Weekend and by appointment. Please call 705-635-3190.
Read more about Brian and his Studio in a piece produced by the Muskoka Magazine.