D o n a l d---D e r r y The Art & The Artist
for Donald Derry
Donald has been a woodworker for 35 years and has made everything from fine furniture and cabinetry to rock and roll guitars. In 1993 Don and his wife Kathy adopted a baby girl and made the decision for Donald to change his job status from cabinetmaker to full time stay at home dad. Fatherhood gave Donald time to reconsider his career and go into Woodturning. Donald states,"Turning appealed to me because it isn't dependent on the cutting, fitting and endless measuring that my cabinetmaking required." So in 1993 He began in earnest to teach himself the craft of Woodturning . His interest in color was initiated do to an observation which he made at an American Association of Woodturners symposium in '94. A highlight of the symposium was an instant gallery containing several hundred turnings by amateurs and professionals alike. When he viewed the gallery he asked one question." What do I not see represented in this exhibition?" Donald noticed that vibrant color and optical quality finishing were two attributes being neglected by modern woodturners and he set out to exploit both to the highest standard of optical brilliance possible. So successful was his quest that his work is, more often than not, thought to be Fine Art Glass rather than finely crafted wood.
Presently Donald is working in Chinese elm because the open grain structure and neutral wood tone lends well to the coloring process he is developing. The colors are pigments from an industrial paint supplier and aniline dyes . The pigments are hand rubbed into the unfinished wood, sanded to the appropriate contrast, blended with solvent and sometimes enhanced by air brushing. Each hollow form is then sprayed with 7 to 10 coats of water white lacquer followed by a 6 step and very intense hand polishing routine until the surface is optically perfect. To give a perspective on the whole process Donald states that, "Coloring, finishing and polishing easily takes more time than the woodturning."