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Woodcraft Guild: Ingrained tradition

Now retired from his career in dentistry, Richard Calhoun just can’t stop drilling — but these days he’s doing it on knotty burls of madrone and manzanita, lathing them into roundish shapes, then power-carving out the insides until they’re thin, light and eye-catchingly aesthetic.

“I’ve always been interested in wood, since I was 10 and made my mother a jewel box,” says Calhoun, who was born and raised in Ashland and now lives in Jacksonville. The upcoming Siskiyou Woodcraft Guild show in Ashland is his one offering each year.

He sells simpler bowls starting at $75, with larger, more complex works going for up to $650. He sells 15 to 20 items at each show and acknowledges the more high-end works speak to buyers who have to have them.

Watching him in his basement workshop, you get the intricacy of his work and how, using a laser beam, his drilling equipment can come within a quarter inch of the exterior surface. He also uses the attractive shaped burls for shelf cornices.

Ironically, Calhoun found his woodworking calling at an earlier Guild showing, where a young artisan, Dan Tilden, showed similar dazzling wares. Calhoun pleaded for a couple lessons and was on his way. His works even appear at the Real Mother Goose in Portland.

Calhoun was a career Air Force root canal specialist who, after the service, practiced in Medford, retiring a dozen years ago and, in his basement, is able “to vanish into my cave and keep my wife happy” with him being out of her kitchen space.

Some 75 skilled woodworkers will have works on display (and for sale) at the 39th annual Siskiyou Woodcraft Guild Harvest Show of Fine Woodworking, where something is bound to grab your gaze and present itself as just the right Yule gift for that hard-to-buy-for loved one.

More than 20 guild members will display their wares — furniture, carvings, turned bowls, on and on — each one unique in all the world, says guild President Tom Phillips.

It’s free, public and runs at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Hay-Patton Rehearsal Center at 30 S. First St., across First Street from the Ashland Springs Hotel and half a block up. The show opens at 10 a.m. daily, Friday through Sunday, Nov. 23-25, and closes at 7 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, see www.siskiyouwoodcraftguild.org.

Calhoun’s website is exoticbowlart.com.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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