H. Tom Thomas - Bio
Woodworking goes back a long way in my family. My great grandfather was a partner in Hollingsworth and Gause, a furniture company in Wilmington, Delaware, that made heavy Cuban Mahogany tables and chairs for steam ships and parlor cars. My grandfather and his father on my mother's side owned Whittenmeyer and Son, a lumber mill in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, supplying native hardwood timbers to homebuilders and the railroad. My mother, herself, was an accomplished cabinetmaker and artist. Her pieces include a mahogany secretary in the collection of the Virginia Historical Society as well as looms developed for weavers in Northern New Mexico. It was growing up in the stacks of my grandfather’s lumberyard and playing in my mother’s shop where I learned the basics of furniture making.
My work in stave constructed and segmented turned wood began in 1995 inspired by the work of a few American wood artists, notably John Dickenson and Bud Latven. My first pieces were fairly traditional using wood segments to depict man-made motifs found in European and Native American cultures. As I had no real connection with Zia symbols and the like this quickly became tedious.
The technique, however, caused something quite beautiful and unexpected to emerge in my vision. Embedded in each segment are the colors and figures of timber from the parent tree. Each one reveals a story, where in the tree it came from, what force, whether wind, drought, insects or the method of cutting, had an effect. When combined together all these stories create a larger one. Furthermore, the process of turning each piece on a lathe and then applying multiple coats of oil and wax exposes a 3 dimensional depth to the figured segments, like facetted jewels. This is where my art is expressed. It is abstract and the beauty revealed, like the natural world itself, should be savored.
I live happily in Santa Fe collaborating on these pieces with my artist wife, Barbara Woods, who builds, and paints by hand, the complementary shades. It was the idea of rounding out her line of sculptural art lamps that inspired me to develop my vision into unique, but more traditional lamps