Article: Demonstration By Christian Burchard

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August 19, 2011 21:50, submitted by Mike Fiantaca (author: Greg Schramek, photos by Tina Collison)

July 2011 Demonstration: Christian Burchard

By Greg Schramek, Photographs by Tina Collison


Christian was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1955 and has lived in the United States since 1978. He apprenticed as a furniture maker in Germany but as his “sweeping skills” were lacking, he decided to study sculpture and drawing in Boston and Vancouver B.C.

In June 1982 he opened Cold Mountain Studio in Southern Oregon, focusing initially on furniture and interiors but ultimately shifting to woodturning and sculptures. Currently his focus is on wall sculptures and freestanding sculptured objects. His work is in major turning-related exhibits. His pieces are part of many public and private collections. He is a much in demand teacher and demonstrator at craft schools and conferences. He resides with his wife near Ashland, Oregon.

Morning Session

Christian reviewed his long career and the evolution of his artwork, with much detail interspersed with many humorous anecdotes. He showed and passed around examples of his baskets, explaining the turning, texturing and finishing process.

He uses green woods, primarily Madrone, a figured wood that grows in the western states. The wood to be turned is carefully flattened so that a waste block can be glued to it using CA glue. The waste block is mounted on a faceplate using screws suitable to the size of the holes in the faceplate. After the faceplate is mounted on the lathe, Christian pulled up the tailstock to improve stability and safety. He uses a tailstock whenever possible and suitable. He then turns the outer shape of the “basket” using a bowl gouge and adds detailing using his own custom tool that seems to show years of use.

Next he removes the tailstock and begins the hollowing process. He first drills a hole, then hollows the piece in a normal manner. He places a shop light near the wall of the piece so that he can see the hollowing is thin and consistent. With the hollowing completed, this concluded the morning session.

Afternoon Session

After removing the completed form from the waste block, Christian then placed it in the microwave, drying it and allowing it to naturally warp. He does not sand the piece, but rather will later sandblast it to provide texture to the basket. The next step is burning the edge with a propane torch.

With the basket essentially completed, Christian displayed tool sharpening techniques. He then showed how to turn a sphere and then provided a slide show of his wonderful pieces including wall hangings, hollow forms, and baskets. As he uses green wood almost exclusively, natural and manipulated movement of the wood, combined with texturing and carving, results in artistic pieces uniquely displaying the “signature” and style of Christian Burchard.