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Fine Craft Collective

Dick Zawacki 2021

As a woodcarver with over 30 years of experience and learning, my favorite subjects are realistic animals and birds, human faces, and chip carved items. My preferred carving woods are native Minnesota butternut and basswood.  


A few years ago, with my wife’s encouragement, I became interested in woodturning and found a new outlet for my creativity.   I often use wood from local trees that are storm damaged or being removed from a yard.  It is very gratifying to transform something that would have been discarded into something useful that pleases the eye.  Most of my turnings are meant to be functional and used in everyday life; thus they are completed using food-safe finishes.


Woodcarving and woodturning have changed how I relate to things in everyday life.  I now observe and perceive things instead of just “seeing” them.  I look for the differences in people’s facial features or the individual differences in a species of an animal or bird.  I look for forms and proportions in objects, trying to determine what makes them pleasing to the eye.


As I create a new piece, I enjoy seeing the beauty of the wood grain emerge and how the light plays off of each surface to really enhance the object as it gets down to its final form.  I find that my carving and turning sessions are a great way to turn 15 minutes into 3 hours.  There is a certain Zen that comes from working with wood that I find in no other activity.