We could call Jan Greenwald a Master
at his craft of wood turning and carving, but he would deny it. He is humble about his work, but has been known to spend weeks sanding a bowl until it is up to his standards. A small bowl might command up to $1,500 on the market, and yet when moved to do so he will gladly give it all away.
Jan’s fascination with wood began in childhood as he walked across a bridge at Knotts Berry Farm, running his hand along the burnished railing which had been richly polished by the movement of a thousand of hands before him. From that day forward he spent many of his childhood hours digging through wood piles to examine the lines and grain in each piece. Now he scours gullies and canyons for unique formations. Since he is well known by the locals in Fallbrook for his talent at coaxing the beauty from a fallen limb, wood is often brought to him by his surrounding neighbors.
Waves and Sand Series
Reflective of gentle waves and sandy shores.
A master of the fine art of wood turning, in this series Jan deftly incorporates the soothing sense of water and sand into his pieces, capturing a feeling of movement in the waves and soft foam washing upon the shores. From the richly detailed elements of a piece of carved driftwood to the hand-tooled sea foam, each piece is exquisitely turned and carved from one piece of wood.
The Camphor wood bowl (shown here) was recently accepted and exhibited alongside the works of several internationally acclaimed wood-turners, at the 31st International Woodturning Symposium at the Kansas City Convention Center, held on June 22-25, 2017, hosted by The American Association of Woodturners (AAW)
Character of the Wood
Identifying that particular branch of the wood that contains within it the most interesting grain and unique characteristics is a skill Jan has honed and nurtured over the years. Most craftsmen would discard the wood Jan uses, considering it too flawed, but as you see the “flaws” add unique beauty and interest to the piece. The outcome is not always predictable because he follows the lead of the wood, allowing rather than forcing the design.
In 2015 Jan was urged to enter a few pieces in the San Diego County Fair. It was no surprise to those of us who know his work that he was awarded second place for the Agave flower (turned and carved from one piece of wood) pictured below. He continues to exhibit at the Fair and to date he has been awarded five cash prizes in the
[In Jan’s voice] It is only on rare occasion that I accept a commission or plan a project. I like to allow the form to emerge as it will, rather than force the wood into my idea of correctness. Urns are the exception. I consider it a privilege to be asked to share in a grieving family’s experience. I try to talk with them, getting a sense of their needs while sharing my thoughts on wood. Frequently, we talk about the deceased so that I can hold him in my thoughts as I work. Then, putting aside what shape to make, I watch as the form emerges from the wood.