Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign


“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.

IMG_6641I’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.

This entry was posted in bowls, figure, patterns, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

  1. Wandrika says:

    This one is really beautiful and the patterns on the bottom are stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shawn Kuchta says:

    How about the sign, “No Admittance Except on Party Business”?


  3. Like they didn’t blast it out of the ground with dynamite and shape it with a jackhammer.


  4. Scott Kinsey says:

    The examples of your work that grace this house need no signs encouraging folks to touch. It just happens. I just wish I could be around to see the enhanced beauty that will surely accompany a few centuries of handling.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gene Felder says:

    Please touch…I couldn’t agree with you more. As I continue to carve more and different bowls, I find that some NEED to be touched to be totally appreciated. I recently carved a bowl that resembles a sea shell…a resemblance that, in my opinion, can be “felt” by touch.
    Sounds like Greenfest was a success in many ways. Congrats on your honor.


    • Dave Fisher says:

      Excellent point, Gene. So much additional information is conveyed through touch. The seashell bowl sounds like another beautiful example of the bowls you’ve been carving.


  6. nrhiller says:

    That bowl is a wonder: the lines, the textures, your mastery of material and tools. Your work is unfailingly inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Touch is a sense that is true sometimes more so than sight ! Texture is a sedative to me lol. Even in food, sweet and sour, cashew chicken soft and crunchy our live would be worthless with out texture and touch and surprises for our sense’s The bowl looks like a wonderful massage of your sense’s in the making running your hands over it would be a sensory vacation !!


    • Dave Fisher says:

      Well expressed , Brian. Thanks. Touch is an important and joyful part of the process when making a bowl, indeed. A lot of information is gathered that way as the form takes shape.


  8. tate hewitt says:

    There are many rules posted at the entrances of each park in my county’s park system. Some are reasonable, others impossible. Such as, “do not, in any manner, molest the plants.” How can we even walk if our feet betray the rules?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Gav says:

    I had a look at an art show at the uni I was studying design at a good few years ago. There was a piece on the floor of clay pavers. At the time I thought it was amusing and boy did I want to walk on it. The only problem being that there were some insufferably pretentious artists and lecturers at the time and I had little inclination to argue the semantics. Wood also has such a nice tactile feel compared to rough pressed fired clay anyway… except for those bastard splinters 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. pfollansbee says:

    I once met a customer who years earlier had bought a chair from me. “Oh, it has a special place in my house. I never let anyone sit in it!” she said, excitedly. “That’s the worst thing you can say to a chairmaker” said me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. chester jenkins says:

    Such a beautiful bowl!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Annika Wänström says:

    Such a beautiful bowl how could you resist touching it. I totally agree we should be able to touch art & other things a lot more, they were made to be apriciated. Of course should old things be handled with care and isn´t for everybody. Enjoy your blog a very much and it is an inspiration even if I am a beginner. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. graemeu says:

    Aw, some people live such sterile lives, fortunately others make art to be touched and the wear patterns and patina that results, add to the piece rather than detract. However this bowl definitely bridges the gap to art, I’d struggle to put food in it. More like an abstraction from some sort of seed pod especially with that striated inner surface.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s