Arts & Culture
Joe Ford’s Woodworking Wonderland
“Be prepared to be amazed,” is not just an advertising slogan, it is the vision of bowls, plates, angels, ornaments, rattles, Harry Potter wands, pens, and much more in the shop and home of Joe and Donalyn Ford.
Ford began his love of wood working in the classes of Horace Walker and Byron Memmott, revered teachers at Lehi High School. By profession Ford is a computer engineer, but has found his real passion is creating objects from wood. He loves to find trees that Lehi residents are cutting down and he recycles the wood to make artistic and utilitarian objects. Many of his bowls and plates are inlaid with semi-precious stones, brass filings, rocks, and copper.
Verdin Liston, Joes grandfather, was a “rock guy” and Ford gathered up buckets of his grandfather’s rocks and uses them in his creations. Ford loves the look of unusual woods and has bowls made of pine, maple, apricot, catalpa, and box elder. All wood has a uniqueness in its grain and texture. “I love to find an old piece of ant-infested, or fungus infused wood and see what the grain and color look like when turned and sanded. Even burned wood pieces have character,” states Ford. “The ugliest wood is the best to work with.”
Donalyn, Ford’s wife, uses the catalpa wooden bowls to make bread. “These bowls make the best bread. I don’t think I could make bread without my special bowls,” she quips.
The Ford Christmas tree is laden with hand turned ornaments with scenes painted on the interior of the ornaments. Ford has perfected a process for making the ornaments. Each is an original. One particular ornament has a scene from “Whoville” from “ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” painted inside.
When asked how long it takes to make a simple bowl, he replied, “I can spend several days to several years to complete a piece. I am now making pens and bowls made from a tree cut down in a neighbor’s yard.” The items will be given to the couple’s grandchildren as a remembrance of the old tree. “I have been working on these things for quite a while.” The bowls were placed on an old antique stove to “cure”. “I had to speed up the process by bringing the wood inside. It often takes up to a year for the wood to be ready to complete on my lathe.”
Ford is always alert for techniques or ideas he can use in a new project. He has learned a technique using wood burning pens and coloring the pattern with India ink. The effect is stunning.
Ford’s family and neighbors are the recipients of gifts he has made. The gifts range from Harry Potter wands, to baby rattles. He is always on the lookout for new ideas for unusual and unique gift items made with wood.
Recently, a group of Cub Scouts came to his home and he taught them how to make pens from wood. He teaches woodturning classes and is generous with his time and talent.
Ford’s home is an expression of the creativity and talent of both he and Donalyn. There was evidence everywhere of a couple dedicated to their family and friends.