Wood chips fly as wood turning master, Jerry Kermode, expertly chisels away at a burl of redwood carefully selected from a ranch in Northern California. Always sourced locally, this crude piece of wood will produce an exquisite serving bowl worthy of being presented to Prince Edward or the President of Brazil as his vessels have been in the past.
Jerry's woodworking experience goes back to the 70’s, restoring Victorian homes in Santa Cruz, CA with his wife, Deborah. Late in that decade, they moved to Hawaii where Jerry was introduced by a neighbor to the island tradition of carving wooden bowls – called “calabash” or honor bowls. These bowls carved from found or reclaimed wood, were a more relaxed form of woodworking, with no measuring– just sight and the feel of the chisel running along the sides of the wet wood.
In 2000, it was time to come back to the mainland USA. Jerry needed a new workshop capable of holding his tools and found it as he settled in Sonoma wine country. It was the perfect location with plenty of local sources for wood, a tight community, and the nearby ocean (14.2 minutes away according to Jerry) that accommodates his other passion- surfing!
Jerry found his niche in shaping bowls from wood cut from discarded tree stumps and logs, using the color and shape of the bark as uneven edges of the vessels and the age rings as natural design elements in the body. The final product is a sculpted bowl with the perfect marriage of elegance and nature’s irregularity - sometimes reinforced with his signature stitches. The bowl’s ultimate design begins to unfold when he starts turning the wood and can see its internal characteristics. As he says, “Every day I am unwrapping nature’s gifts. Every day is Christmas in my workshop. I’m not in charge here; I’m just along for the ride.”
Jerry and Deborah work as a team to run the family business and take pride in the fact that they've been self-employed for 42 years, making this their lifestyle. Jerry turns and refines the bowls, then Deborah completes the finishing, which includes the signature three circle maker’s mark for good luck.
Keeping the art of wood turning alive and thriving is important to Jerry so he opens his workshop to the local community to teach the younger generations for a full weekend each month. Students learn the basics of turning spindles, tool maintenance, and safety. As he stated, “I feel if you have a gift or a talent, you need to share it and teach it to the next generation…it would be like having love in your heart and not showing it.”