I am Jarrod Dahl, a craftsperson, teacher, and writer from Northern Wisconsin. I have been working with wood since 1996. Although I got my start designing and building traditional timber framed homes I slowly moved from the building trades to traditional craft. Today my time is split teaching handcraft and designing and making a wide variety of ‘domestic craft objects’. Currently my focus is on woodenware.
I work together with my wife and one assistant to create high quality handmade goods. I specialize in turning freshly harvested wood, known as green wood, into cups, handled mugs, bowls, plates, and lidded boxes and I carve a wide variety of utensils.
I am one of the few professional woodturners in the world (no joke) whose specialty is using a foot-powered spring pole lathe. I also use both a Japanese-style and a Western-style electric lathe. I am extremely intrigued by the the textures each of these machines leave on the objects I make. Because of this I also forge my own tools—quite uncommon in the Western wood turning world.
I’m inspired by what I understand as wood culture, most of which is from the recent past or even further. It isn’t thought about much, but woodenware was the main tableware for thousands of years in much of the forested lands around the globe. I’ve traveled to places like Sweden and Japan to further my understanding and also to inform my designs. I’ve studied thousands of lidded boxes, bowls and cups in museum archives in Sweden. In Japan where woodenware is very much common place even today, I studied with woodturners, designers, and lacquer artists again to inform my design aesthetics and also to learn how I might be able to bring more appreciation to wooden objects in our modern times.
Woodenware can be very elegant and beautiful. My designs are conservative and change very slowly through making many pieces in the same style.
The majority of the wood I use is harvested and milled by myself and my assistant, from trees within miles of my home. I am lucky to be in touch with the whole journey of my product from tree to finished design.
I believe that beauty is an important part of daily life and that the handmade wooden object has a part to play in it.
Jarrod Dahl is one of 44 artists included in the 4th annual The Cup, The Mug exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of drinking vessels. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. The Cup, The Mug runs through December 14, 2019.