Shaping beautiful curves from plywood
Synopsis: Multiple layers of birch plywood, cut roughly to shape and carved using power tools, are the basis of Kerry Vesper’s sculptural bowls. The flowing lines of the plywood’s edges add interest to the bowls, and the designs are limited only by the imagination. Here he shows how he designs his bowls, shapes the blanks, glues them up, and then uses a variety of power tools to end up with a finished piece.
My process of making vessels evolved out of a desire to create expressive forms in spontaneous fashion. My goal is to capture a fluid form in wood. I start by gluing up multiple pieces of birch plywood cut roughly to shape and then i use power carving and sanding tools to create a flowing, sculptural form.
I began using plywood decades ago because I had no room for the equipment needed to thickness-plane boards. I also was inspired by the stack-lamination work of Wendell castle, with whom I took a workshop in the early 1980s.
These days, I have a little more space, but by now I am hooked on the design possibilities offered by, among other things, the parallel lines of plywood’s edges. Flowing around the organic form of a sculpted bowl, those lines remind me of the rock strata in the Southwest desert where I live, carved into graceful shape by wind and water.
Cut a stack of rings
Each of my sculptural bowls is shaped from a “blank” created by stacking and gluing together a series of concentric plywood rings, graduated in size and built from the top down. Then I add a top rim and bottom made of solid wood. When I started making bowls years ago, I would draw ideas on paper, starting with the rim and imagining the…