Reflection Spaces

I created these pieces to celebrate meditative spaces.

This work explores impermanence and imperfection as part of the cycle of life. Circles appear repeatedly in my designs. Indeed, the very act of sourcing my raw materials—the initial step in an act of creation—involves the death of a living entity. I felt this clearly when I cut down several trees to use in this project.

Reflection Space No. 1

Cherry Round with Insect Damage

What is consciousness? Sometimes defined as the ability to take in information and then to disseminate it. Is an ant conscious? Does a stone have consciousness? If a stone sits in the sun all day, and you pick it up, does it transmit information about the warmth it has experienced this day? What does the rock tell you about its experience over eons?

Does the apple tell you about how it grew, how the tree sweetened the fruit by drawing water from its roots? Can the apple tell you about the work of the bee last spring? In this piece, the work of many thousands of individual insects makes one mindful of…?

Pine, Che-chen, rough-sawn Cherry with Ant damage.

Shrine from Pine tips

Shrine Made from Tips of Pine Trees

I had to cut down a small stand of pine trees the winter I began this project. The tips of the trees where the branches went out in all directions caught my attention. I set them aside, and a few weeks later made a few simple sketches. When I decided how I wanted to use them, I started by peeling off the bark, and it seemed right to leave a bit of bark and greenery in place.

This piece is about quiet and peace, about nature and harmony, and it is especially about the impermanence of things. How long will it last? How long will any of us last? Rather than ponder these unanswerable questions, I’ll just slow down and appreciate the simple beauty, this moment in time, and my place in it.


Shrine closed
Shrine Open

Reflection Space No. 3

In my initial conception of this project I wanted to build spaces in which someone might place an image, text, or object (natural or otherwise), something which they sought to contemplate or through which they sought a more general contemplation.

An aid to meditation… through which to reflect on the universe—its vastness or perhaps only the minute manifestation of its processes contained in a box. Its ageless endurance and impersonality or perhaps this particular instant and where the universe has led the individual who at this moment stands before the box.

What message do we take from this experience, what is the container, what—or who—does it contain? Where is its limit in time? Does the box contain only what is in it at this instant, or
might you imagine all the spaces over which the area defined by the box has passed, through eternity, both before and in time yet to come?

Displayed at chest level, within this space, how many hearts, how many heads and shoulders of children, how many animals has this space framed?

And before the people came, how many trees have grown up through this space, how many seas washed over it with fishes swimming? And before that… and in the future…?

Sapele, Ash, Bloodwood, and Cherry.

Who Am I When I Sing
Who Am I When I Sing, open

Who Am I When I Sing?

Who am I when I sing, and
where does who I am begin, and
where does who I am leave off?

What defines us: Is it something deep inside, called the soul, locked in the heart? Or possibly the intellect, coiled through the grey matter of the brain?

Is it one’s appearance–color of eyes, color of skin, with roots that stretch back through our heritage? Or something more changeable, such as the clothes we choose to wear and the makeup we apply? Am I the lipstick, or the pig? And just how deep and how thick is the lipstick with which we disguise ourselves?

Or is it a sort of foamy bubble that surrounds us, the impact on the world of one’s actions? If I sing, does the music from deep within carry some of me out into the atmosphere? If so, does who I am end where bystanders stand out of earshot? Does who I am persist in the world after I leave it, through the mark I make, now, on the world around me? Will some part of me exist while my work remains to speak for me?

Who are we–in place, and in time, and where did it start, and where will it end?

Bust carved in wet Pine, mask carved in Butternut. Ash hinges.

Hands Carving
Carving of Woman Seeking Refuge

Carving of hands and figure


These hands are modeled on my own. As I carved I thought how much of my self-image is based on what I do with my hands. Suddenly this abstract exercise to learn to carve became a self-portrait, and an exercise in self-discovery.

I have a lot of butternut logs that I’ve been storing in my barn, waiting for the right time to carve them. Butternut is a lovely, soft hardwood. Sadly, butternuts were victims of a disease a few years back. A perfect wood for learning to carve, I split a small piece and discovered these veins that spoke to me of a pair of vital hands.

Carved from split Butternut log


My first attempt at carving for this project. When I picked up the block of wood, split from an old cherry log that I’d been storing in my barn, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to carve. This figure quickly emerged, but I didn’t know who or what it was, whether it was male or female, what it was doing.

Then it told me its story as the details took shape.

Cherry with worm holes

Funeral Urn Open
Funeral Urn
Set of four funeral urns

Funeral Urns

Three times now I’ve made urns to hold the ashes of a loved one, and later once again for the loved one of a friend.

I offer these urns to others who may need a place to hold in honor the memory of one who has passed on.  Interior space is 4.5 x 6.5 x 8.5″.

Bookmatched Ash with Sapele base and side accents. The central flame is Spalted Maple.

Outdoor Shrine

An initial inspiration for this project was remembering childhood visions of simple shrines by the roadside in Japan, where crude figures represented memories or perhaps spirits to honor.  This space is the culmination of my exploration, a simple monument maybe containing some of the figures I carved for this project. The figures I have in mind are crudely carved and only roughly indicate human features.

It’s fitting that my project culminates with this structure, as the posts are cut from the beam that I hewed by hand at the beginning of my exploration. I hewed the beam using a broad axe, then quartered it with power and hand saws. The posts stand in the same relation to each other as they held in the original tree, and mirror-image components at either end were all halved from their siblings at the opposite end.


Scroll down to explore many of the pieces I created for this project.