One of the most frequent questions asked me is, “Where do you get your wood, Doug?”

My reply is likely unbelievable: “It often comes to me.”

I’m not kidding about this reality. The beginning of my bowl making back in Vermont began with the donation of a gorgeous slab of butternut wood from a kind mill owner who had tucked it away to dry in his barn. After making two bowls, I chose to keep one. To this day, it is a reminder to me of the gift from that good man. He did not expect any payment and was surprised when I returned with a completed bowl. Holding it in his arms, he sat down upon the grass and cried. I was amazed at how my work could impact people and so decided to continue creating new pieces.

And so, it continued. Mill owners, cabinet makers, folks with downed trees—it has been such a wonderful experience receiving, even scraps of wood that can literally be turned into unique bowls.

Doug Clark with Wood From Road

“The slab from the road”

Of course, not all my wood comes to me—demand can exceed supply. It is at such times  my faithful white Ford truck and I make the trek to my favorite lumber store in a nearby town where most of the workers know me and my art. Each piece has to be carefully selected, and I often  find the perfect slabs to meet my bowl needs. Wood is increasingly expensive, but I love to get unique finds like Tigerwood for trims.

Friends of mine who are keen on wood will at times find a perfect plank, chunk, or other such piece and purchase it from little shops in the peninsula. I appreciate their interest and am happy to pay for the specially selected and delivered segments. Plus, my friends love to come by the shop to see what creations have resulted from their “finds.”

At times, people have trees they cut down on their property. Or they will have me come and scout for the trees that will be just right for bowl work. In doing this, my knowledge and appreciation for wood increases. I also have to find the pieces that speak to me, whispering of the bowls they will become.

Wood You Believe?

When first married, my wife did not believe wood comes to me. One day as we were driving along high way 104, I was shocked to see a log in the middle of the road. I got around it avoiding an accident. Realizing the hazardous threat to oncoming traffic, my wife cried out, “Let me out so I can move it to the side of the road.” I did so, and then turned around as quickly as possible to be headed back toward her. There she stood beside the slab of wood she had somehow maneuvered safely to the road’s edge. I quickly loaded the find.

She was unusually silent as we resumed our journey home. I was relieved an accident had been averted and the wood was saved. It had likely fallen from a logger’s truck when not properly secured. In my mind I was already planning what to create from it, when she spoke:

“Doug, I believe you now”

“Wood DOES come to you.”