His love of wood turns to art
Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014

His love of wood turns to art

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/21/12/42/1usfjl.Em.138.jpeg|210
    Dave Terpening, a wood turner who lives in the Kingswood neighborhood, wears safety glasses as he uses a lathe and bowl-turning gouge to work on a piece of his art.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/21/12/42/19rhMJ.Em.138.jpeg|210
    Dave Terpening, a wood turner who lives in the Kingswood neighborhood, holds one of his works in the dining room of his home.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/21/12/42/Y5aMw.Em.138.jpeg|210
    Dave Terpening, a wood turner who lives in the Kingswood neighborhood, maintains shelves of assorted woods from around the world to work with in his garage studio.
  • Want to know more?

    Wood turner Dave Terpening will be the featured artist-of-the-month at Charlotte Fine Art Gallery in April. Details: www.charlottefineart.com.

Dave Terpening’s love of wood is evident from the moment you enter his garage in the Kingswood neighborhood near SouthPark.

Terpening is a wood turner who makes glossy collectible bowls and trumpet-shaped vessels from exotic wood boards and burls – the rounded, knotty growths on trees.

There is an element of risk with the burls, he said, because he doesn’t know what he’ll find inside, and whether they’re useable, until he cuts into them.

Terpening, 68, has not let tremors from his Parkinson’s disease thwart his art.

“I don’t shake at all when I walk through that door,” he said.

An array of wood pieces from around the world – with names such as black palm, pink ivory and Peruvian walnut – all find a place in his studio.

“I can take a piece of wood and make it look better than the original wood,” Terpening said.

Woodworker’s shop

Among the ordinary tools and equipment like a planer, table saw and lathe, he also has dental picks – given him by his dentist – for cleaning holes in wood.

It can require four to six weeks to complete a work, including a week or two of drying time for the tung oil and resin finishes he applies.

Terpening said the average price for a piece is around $300 to $350.

The most expensive piece he has sold was about $900.

“Most of my ideas come to me in the middle of the night, so I have a notebook and pen I keep near the bed,” he said.

One idea, the trumpet vessel series, was inspired by finding his daughter’s old high school band trumpet in a closet.

Terpening’s wife, Sandy, smiles as she calls herself a “wood turner’s widow,” noting she sometimes needs to remind him to close up shop and come in the house. The couple have two grown children, a son and daughter.

Neighbors and friends enjoy touring his workspace, so he printed a spiral-bound photo book he furnishes visitors to show them the process.

April exhibit

He leaves a box of reject pieces in his studio, calling them his “school.” It’s how he learns lessons about what works and what doesn’t, he said.

A couple of features help differentiate Terpening’s work from that of other wood turners. He said he does segmented work, cutting segments from wood instead of just using big blocks of wood. His laminations – mixing woods in different combinations – also set him apart.

Through the years, Terpening’s work has been exhibited at galleries and museums throughout the United States. His work now is available from Charlotte Fine Art Gallery at Carmel Village.

“Most customers and clients notice the beauty of the wood, still others think they are ceramic from a distance due to the shine and smoothness of the piece,” Joni Purk, owner of the gallery, said in an email.

Terpening will be the gallery’s artist-of-the-month in April at “Festival of Color: Wood Artistry.” He said he has created 50 new pieces for that exhibit.

“I’m a wood artist. The wood is my palette, and I try to enhance what nature has done,” Terpening said.

Hope Yancey is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Hope? Email her at hyanceywrites@gmail.com.

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