Holly Tornheim

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Meet the Artist

  • About This Artist

    In 1977, while helping to remodel a 16th-century convent in Provence, Holly carved her first piece. On an old beam, she carved the hollyhocks that grew in the convent garden using a small straight-edge chisel found in a workroom. She has continued doing all the work on each piece from design to execution herself, in her single-person, solar-powered studio. Drawn to natural shapes and forms, she tries to make pieces that are not only visually exciting but also a delight to handle and use. 

  • Q&A With This Artist

    A: I use solid pieces of wood in their natural color in my work. Some of the pieces that I start with are boards, and some are unmilled chunks. I will roughly cut what shape I want and then carve each piece using both hand and power tools. The wood I use includes leftover pieces from furniture makers and also material from local brush clearing. All the non-domestic wood I use is either FSC or Smartwood certified or remnants given to me by other woodworkers.

    A: As a carpenter, door and furniture maker, carver of both sculpture and functional pieces, and as part of the long stream of humans who have used, planted, loved, and lived among trees, I value the versatility and the warm-to-the-touch feel and glow of polished wood.

    A: I live and work off the power grid. My husband and I live in a house we built ourselves that incorporates poles and beams from the local ponderosa pines and douglas firs. We were also fortunate to find some beautiful redwood from a salvage soy sauce fermentation tank from San Jose which I used to make some of the house's exterior doors. We discovered early on that deer appreciated the soy taste and would come and lick these doors at night.

    A: The natural world from the molecular to the human to the universe is a continuing source of inspiration to me. I am fed by daily walks in the forest of the Sierra Nevada foothills.

    A: Several years ago I collaborated with my dear friends and neighbors Tor and Bob Erickson of Erickson Woodworking on creating a coffee table. The story that Tor wrote is here: http://ericksonwoodworking.com/a-collaboration-in-wood/

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