I have had a love for wood since my earliest memories. My dad Aaron kept me in pocket knives so I could cut and carve sticks in the woods. I started building things as a teen in my dad’s sheet metal shop in North Lake Tahoe. I made my first box out of Oregon myrtle wood in 1975, and I have been striving to perfect the form ever since. I pursued a career in architecture for 35 years and continued to work in wood as time and workspace allowed. My uncle Stan bought a wood lathe at auction in Bakersfield and delivered it to me in Sacramento about 20 years ago, and encouraged me to spend time using it, even though I had no experience, and the 1200 pound beast scared the bejeebies out of me for years. Eventually I made my peace with it, and my bowl work started to be more playful.
I love to incorporate metal in my boxes – mostly brass and occasionally silver – in the form of inlays. Some of my pieces have genuine ivory from a salvaged piano keyboard dated 1872. My designs draw from nature, the wood color and grain itself, and from mathematics. The proportions of many of my boxes comply with the “golden ratio,” Phi, or roughly 1:1.618. Much of the wood I use comes from trees in and around my neighborhood – word has gotten out that I’m a woodworker, and folks will ask if I’m interested in a fallen limb or downed tree, and it is practically irresistible! I seal the wood and let it dry for at least 2 years before looking seriously at it. Cutting into a new log and imagining what I could make from it is about the most fun there is for me!
Rich Abbott Garden of the Gods, Sacramento