Artist Bio

Bill Walzer has been turning wooden art pieces for decades. He began learning the wood trade while turning the handrail posts of his Victorian home in Berkeley, but quickly gravitated toward turning bowls, which lends more room for creative and artistic license.

The grain and shape of a log largely determines the best shape for the resulting piece of turned art, and is a true collaboration with these special forms. The wood material for Walzer’s work is sourced from urban forests; trees that have fallen, or those the city has removed.

If you ever lose a favorite tree, Walzer can make a lovely memory piece out of the trunk!

Artist Statement

“Turning a piece of wood is a bit of an adventure because I never know for certain what may be inside.  There may be an exciting swirl of grain or rotten wood or piece of bark.  As I carve into a block I am interacting with the wood to create the final form.  I have never made two identical pieces.  Each piece is a unique combination of nature and artistic nurture plus turning skill.  I enjoy deciding if a piece is going to be straight or curvy or angular or all of the above.

I am a longtime woodworker but my favorite aspect has always been turned art.  It involves less precise measuring and fitting and much more free form sculpting.
It may sound cliche but wood turning literally lets me go with the flow of the natural grain in a piece of wood.  I started by turning handrail posts when renovating my Victorian home in Berkeley but quickly moved to bowls which provide more creative dimensions.

Wood turning is similar in concept to a ceramicist working on a potter’s wheel.  It is almost unfair that I get to start with such a spectacular material compared to a ceramic artist who must create the surface design from scratch.  But on the other hand a potter can always adjust a shape.  Once I cut away wood it is gone forever so a wood turner must know when to stop!

I work in wood partly because of decades of experience working with wood since I was a young boy.  I am also conscious of the fact that I can create objects of beauty with minimal environmental impact.  The wood I use all comes from the urban forest.  This is a renewable resource of trees that are removed because of old age or disease or construction.  Tree care companies know to bring me their most interesting wood rather than take it to the dump.  None of the wood comes from natural forests and certainly not clear cutting which destroys a forest.  I cannot imagine ever getting bored while turning the variety of woods from all over the world that grow in the urban forests of California.

My pieces can be admired empty or used for keys, nuts salads or anything short of liquids.  Sizes range from two inches to two feet in diameter.  If you ever lose a favorite tree give me a call so I can make a lovely memory piece out of the trunk.” – Bill Walzer, 2016