The light shining through a bowl | Doug Clark“The light shines through this bowl!” is an expression often heard when Doug’s bowls are displayed. The experienced wood workers who have hobbied with bowl turning ask, “How do you make them this thin?”

That’s the point and reason Doug’s bowls are different and beyond others. Yes, a bowl can be sanded to 1/8 of an inch in thickness, but Doug has yet to know of anyone who can turn them on a lathe to such incredible thinness.

I have witnessed his bowl-creating process from start to finish—the literal finish being natural and strengthened, lovin
gly buffed to perfection.  As I peer from behind him, at the bowl’s near completion, its unbelievable thinness grabs my full attention. There is high risk at this stage. It’s not just the risk of breaking the bowl after all the labor expended, but there is also the risk of injury to Doug in this dangerous work. He’s enjoying the thrill of the final turning, and I’m in the background praying.This turning can only happen under the most favorable conditions: Doug needs to feel healthy, rested and inspired, or it is not a “turning day” for him.

Reverting back to my student nursing during surgical procedures, I hand him the requested caliper. “There you go, Dr. Clark.” With gratitude he turns off the loud dust-sucking machine and the lathe. Then he measures the treasure. “Almost there.”
“How do you know when to stop, Doug?” I ask.

“I can tell by the sound.” This seems impossible to me.

My legs are weary from standing on the thick rubber mat meant to cushion against the ungiving cold cement floor.Yet, Doug seems invigorated. He claims the wood gives him energy, and few things in life can bring the satisfaction of creating with wood—of taking even discarded pieces which other would not value and putting them together into something of desirable beauty. His greatest challenge is in creating thinness and he’s done just that.

As he releases bowl and holds it to the light, the light shines through.