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SAMA's Lunch a l'Art welcomes master woodturner

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art continues its laud and nod to the masterful array of artful avenues, welcoming woodturner Edric Florence to the monthly Lunch a l'Art on July 17.

The program, which begins at noon, includes lunch and a presentation by the artist.

Woodturning is a practice that can date back to beginnings of time — wood is shaped into decorative or practical objects using a chisel and a lathe. The creations include items such as bowls, containers, vases, jars, sauerkraut mashers, hairpins and urns. Woodturning clubs and associations extend around the globe and in recent decades it has become regarded as more of an art form.

Florence describes his career as a natural progression, evolving from his childhood in Hawaii, where he, along with his brothers and father, crafted surfboards. Pieces of his work are inspired by indigenous and ancient Hawaiian wood products.

“Wood is kind of in my blood. I let it dictate to me what is there and I try to enhance that,” Florence explained. “Is there a floral shape, a bowl shape? I keep with the natural colors, patterns and grain work. And I'm kind of against painting wood.”

Florence first cleans and analyzes new cuts, sometimes finding shrouds of glass, rocks and even bullets. As he begins his timbering toil, if a new impression unfolds, he tries another route.

“I incorporate that natural inclusion,” he stated. “Sometimes I have to change my plan of attack.”

Receiving commissions from many locales, two of Florence's most grandiose and unique endeavors were creating a “Tree of Life” for a hospice in Maine and a wooden sink for a home in Mexico.

“I used a 6-foot-tall apple tree for the “Tree of Life” and a metal sculptor did the leaves,” he said. “When I get commissions, I want to know about the people, your history, your lifestyle, where the piece will be displayed. It's a personal thing.”

Florence, now of Pittsburgh, credits his wife and friends for his success.

“I have nice friends who keep good eyes out for me and gather good pieces. And I could do none of this without my wife,” he said.

As for now, Florence is currently working on a set of spoons that will serve as a wedding gift and sets of bottle stoppers that will be donated to a fundraiser.

He is looking forward to sharing the facets of his craft with a Ligonier audience.

“I was originally scheduled in March, but it was moved back. This gave me more time to analyze and think. Now it can be an even better program.”

Cost for Lunch a l'Art is $15 or $12 for SAMA members. Reservations are required by July 11. The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley is located at One Boucher Lane and Route 711 South in Ligonier. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tues. through Fri. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. The Museum is a handicapped-accessible facility and admission is always free.

For more information, phone the museum at 724-238-6015.

Rebecca Ridinger is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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