Stanley talks about woodworking

By Page H. Gifford

Man has been whittling wood and making utilitarian creations for centuries. What was once a necessity has become a hobby for those who pursue the art of woodworking. Laker Glen Stanley makes unique items from various types of wood with amazing skill. He said he has had a lifelong love of woodworking since he was in high school. Now retired, he has more time to spend at his beloved craft.

He began turning bowls and hollow forms ten years ago and started selling them two years ago. He said he gets his inspiration from his fellow woodworkers while at other times he is inspired by what nature provides in the wood itself.

“Most of the time I look for wood that will give a bowl an unusual feature and then try to shape the bowl to accentuate that feature.” In some of his signature pieces, he combines the natural bark with the smooth glossy grain of the wood for a one-of-a-kind piece.

“The bark of the wood gives the rough texture and usually the dark color along the edge of the bowl. The shape of my natural edge bowls comes from using the bark side of the wood for the top of the bowl,” he explained. “When the bowl is made this way, it will look more like an oval with the ends higher than the sides. This is caused by the curvature of the outside of the wood.” 

All of Stanley’s wood comes from central Virginia and is the result of lot clearing or storm damage. He never cuts down any living trees to get wood to make bowls. He uses maple, cherry, and other assorted wood to make his bowls and other items such as jars, boxes, and even candle holders.

In some of his pieces, he adds vibrant colors such as a rich indigo blue. He achieves this unusual and beautiful look by using two colors of wood dye. First, he applies a dark color which soaks deep into the softer areas of the grain and then into the harder grain. The surface is then sanded off leaving only the dark areas in the softer wood. A light-colored dye is then applied.

“This process shows off the grain by enhancing the contrast between the soft and hard areas of the grain.”

To get the wood to imitate glass is a process similar to the French art of decoupage. It starts with a lot of sanding. He estimated that it takes about a half to one hour or more of sanding per bowl. Once he’s sanded the bowl, he puts on two to three coats of sealer which raises the grain and forms a base coat. Once the sealer is dried, he scuff sands the bowl to remove any raised grain and then applies the final coat of hand-rubbed shellac which produces the high-gloss finish.

Among all the various styles of bowls and hollow forms he creates the ones with natural edges are his favorites.

“I enjoy making the natural end bowl, especially with wood like walnut and cherry that have a lot of contrast between the heart and sapwood.”

Stanley often travels to farmers markets and craft shows and is regularly at the farmers market in Fluvanna. But the season is winding down. He said he will be out again at various venues come April. But anyone interested in viewing more of his work can visit his website at

“For everyone who purchased items from me this year, I hope they enjoy their purchase as much as I did making them.”

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