“Please, do not touch.” There are certain posted signs that disappoint me, but perhaps none more than that. I can deal with “Stay off the Grass.” In fact, I may have had no desire to walk on the grass, at least until I saw the sign. “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Well, that’s just enforcing what everyone’s thinking if they find me shirtless. I can happily endure the flashing of a “Don’t Walk” signal, even when no traffic is coming. But a “Do not touch” sign hits me like a ton of bricks.
Several years ago, I was visiting a small art museum with my family. Outside on the museum grounds was a large abstract granite sculpture. Outside. Granite. Birds poop on it. My instinct was to touch it, to sense its texture as a way of understanding it and appreciating it. And there was no sign.
Please understand, I’m not completely out of control. I don’t go running my fingers over paintings nor do I advocate allowing thousands of people to run their hands over the carvings of a curated piece of furniture. But I did touch this outdoor granite sculpture. Sure enough, as if I had sprung a trap, a museum docent stepped outside and admonished me. “No sign…” I whimpered. Sign implied, moron. They reluctantly and watchfully allowed us to explore the museum.
I’d like to include a sign with each bowl that reads, “Please touch.” Then again, I hope that the invitation is implied and the wish to do so is instinctive. The warmth of wood and the varying textures left from the tools tend to draw the hand.
On this just-finished poplar bowl, I used the gouge on the interior in a way that is meant to create a sense of flow and movement. The slick slicing of the gouge also makes the bowl easy to clean and use. No scratched wood fibers to fuzz up and rise with water, as can occur with a sanded surface.
The exterior of the bowl was worked with the gouge in a different way, leaving a different texture.
Bowls are meant to be picked up, and fingertips will sense the bowl as well as eyes can see the striking pattern of growth rings in this tulip poplar.
This one was carved from another piece of the same log as the memorial bowl I wrote about in this post, so it is off to the same family. No signs attached.