Hi, I’m Zach LaPerriere — an Alaskan woodworker from Sitka, Alaska.
I’m a wood guy. I work with wood, I heat with wood, I live in the woods. Wood, trees, and the forest of the Tongass Rainforest give me a rich life. Food, water, shelter, air: the Tongass sustains me. On the deepest of levels, I owe my physical, mental, and spiritual health to the Tongass.
I’m also a wood artist and craftsperson. I make wood bowls to allow people to connect with the beauty, perfection, and grace within our local trees here in the Tongass.
I’ve been a professional woodworker all of my adult life: carpenter, finish carpenter, boat carpenter, trail builder, sawyer, and woodturner.
Every single one of the bowls I make is one-of-a-kind. A functional piece of wood art that takes months to complete from start to finish.
I begin each bowl with a fallen or otherwise salvaged tree. Every bowl I turn comes from salvaged stock simply because I don’t need to cut a living tree. I’d rather let the forest make the first decision on where my bowls comes from.
I cut rounds with a chainsaw making educated guesses of what will make the most beautiful and educational bowls. Educational—because I shape bowls to show you how the tree grew and what forces shaped the tree’s life.
Back at the shop I mount a bowl blank (heavy wood disc) on the lathe. I shape each bowl guided by what the wood offers. I might follow the striking patterns of a healed injury, or cut a steep side to a bowl to show how a branch grew. It’s always a process of discovery, and education for me, too. In the end, the shape of my bowls always reflects how I understand that piece of wood best.
After at least a few months of drying, I put that oversized rough bowl back on the lathe and complete the final shaping. Then I sand through at least 10 different grits of sandpaper and finish the bowl with a coat of food-grade walnut oil.
Because a good wood bowl can be used daily and be passed on for generations, I feel deeply that I’m extending the life of a tree. What a privilege!
Watch a video of the bowl-making process, starting with salvaging a tree from deep in the rainforest...
Each month, I give away a sweet little bowl to one lucky newsletter subscriber. Want to win? Join the newsletter.
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