Peter is a wood turner based in Melbourne’s outer east, where he is surrounded by beautiful native trees. After a 25-year career in IT, Peter took a career tree-change and switched to cabinet making, following a life-long love affair with timber. “I had always loved working with wood and decided that I needed to leave the corporate world and follow my passion”, Peter reflects.
Peter bought his first small lathe around eight years ago and hasn’t looked back; within 12 months he was upgrading his equipment, and another year down the track was “truly hooked.” Several lathes and many bowls later, Peter is still in love with working with native timbers and has extended his range into feature vases, pens, jewellery boxes, and other hollow forms. “There is nothing more enjoyable than seeing a beautiful piece of timber given a second life” says Peter from his home studio.
For Peter, Australiana means home, and in particular our beautiful native timbers, and our incredibly diverse landscape from outback Australia to the coast. Living in outer eastern Melbourne, surrounded by bushland, and only a short drive to the beautiful Yarra Valley, Peter has plenty of opportunity to admire the wide range of native trees growing in bushland – and is steeped in knowledge about the workability and characters of each. When winds and storms bring down large branches Peter ensures these don’t go to waste, foraging in bushland for naturally felled timber that is just crying out for a second life as a beautifully shaped piece of art.
An enthusiastic collector of heritage made-hand tools, Peter’s dream project is to build a boat with his own hands. Having turned his hand to everything from cheeseboards, jewellery boxes, his popular native timber pens, and even furniture. He prefers working with hardwoods – and has a soft spot for Gidgee, a beautifully dark hardwood that is extremely dense. “Gidgee requires the sharpest of tools but the finish you get with this beautiful timber makes the effort well worthwhile.”
What challenges you?
“Getting those dovetail joints precise with no gaps and a perfect fit. Also working on bowls and vases – hollowing out a piece of timber without it catching on the tools always takes a bit of luck and its very satisfying to see a piece come together.”
How has your art / creative practice changed over time?
I like to continuously refine and improve my techniques, and I enjoy experimenting. I also do quite a bit of self-education and am always keen to learn new approaches and build my abilities. Each piece of timber is unique and there is nothing more enjoyable than seeing a beautiful piece of timber given a second life.”
What material do you love and why?
“I love the natural beauty of timber, the touch and the smell make it an absolute pleasure to work with. Every piece is different, and you never quite know what you will end up with. Hard woods especially are great to work with - they cut and finish so much better than the softwoods. Whilst it may be ‘hard’ to work with, the fibers cut beautifully, and it polishes superbly.”
What tool / item couldn’t you do without?
Would have to be my Shooting Board. I use this daily to size, square and straighten timber.
What memorable comments have you had about your creations?
“I had the opportunity to create a painter’s box for a local artist, and received fantastic feedback – they said they were honoured to own it, loved the craftsmanship and artistry of the piece and were looking forward to using it. That really made my week”
You can find Peter’s native timber pens in our store under accessories, available in gidgee or bull oak here.