Tahlequah Daily Press

February 5, 2013

Father-and-son team working in wood

By RENEE FITE
Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Logan Mullican completed a carpentry course at the local vo-tech school, and the endeavor has blossomed into a going art concern for Logan and his father, David.

Logan showed his father some pens and bowls he’d made at Indian Capitol Technology Center, and when David saw his son’s workmanship, he decided to encourage his son to continue.

“If it’s something he enjoys doing, I want him to keep doing it,” David said. “So I set up a shop.”

David retired from ONEOK after 30 years as a chemist and environmental health and safety coordinator, and was looking for projects to stay busy.

He has enjoyed a longtime love of woodworking, and bought a lathe, band saw and drill press.

“It gives me something to do and us something to do together,” David said. “I’ve always done work with wood, always enjoyed and appreciated woods and grains, It’s fun watching the wood grain pop out and see the hidden beauty.”

Father and son easily exchange looks as they speak, and share friendly camaraderie. As one talks, the other often finishes the comment or interrupts with something different.

“It’s fun, and I get to see him doing something he loves,” Logan said of his dad. “And it’s cool to cut a new tree and see the grains.”

The pair is also considerate of the environment.

“We’re tree-friendly,” David said. “We harvested walnut, hickory and maple recently, but we don’t cut down trees; we find it on the ground.”

They’ve been working on their projects, mostly bowls, for more than two years. This past Christmas, Logan even surprised his mom with a dining room table made of cherry wood.

“I get into it, because it’s fun and it’s something to do, and it’s relaxing,” said Logan. “It was really cool to surprise my mom with a Christmas gift. She’s always wanted a table big enough for all of us.”

The 4-foot by 8-foot table was made without using nails, fitting the pieces together tongue-and-groove the old-fashioned way.

“It’s our first real big project together,” said Logan. “It turned out better than I thought it would. It’s pretty and nice.”

They made a large bowl from cherry wood to put on top of the table.

“Cherry starts out light and gets darker with time,” David said. “It’s a hard wood, and it really shines. It was common for furniture in the 1930s and ‘40s, but you don’t see it much now.”

Hand-produced furniture is hard to find these days, said David.

The father and son enjoy collecting wood, but also looking for unusual, hard-to-find woods.

“We like to use exotic woods, but we’ll also go out and get trees from the ground,” David said.

The wood has to dry six months to five years, depending on the type, to be perfected to turn properly, he said. They don’t use stains, only polish.

“We like to show the grain of the wood, with all its flaws and qualities,” David said. “We look for burl, with swirls and knots and unusual patterns. We polish and sand to bring out sheen and the grain of wood.”

Every bowl is unique because of the wood grain and other influences on the tree, like mold, spalt or insect holes.

The type of wood used and the date it was made is on the bottom of each bowl.

“Friction polish burns resin into the wood,” he said.

One bowl, made of white oak, shows their sense of whimsy by adding the Cherokee word for squirrel, and squirrel footprints were added in design.

The bowls can be used for dry foods like peanuts or chips, but not liquids, which will harm the wood.

“We made some oak bowls and walnut spalted burl bowls that sold fast,” David said.

They found some scraps of white walnut that curled into the dark part of the grain with a very interesting pattern.

“It’s all in the way the wood is cut,” David said. “We’re always on the lookout for interesting wood.’”

They’ve make a few segmented bowls, but for now they prefer to work with solid pieces of wood. Some of the bowls have lids.

“I was told the lids are supposed to fit tight, so it takes two hands to take them off,” said David, demonstrating on a box.

Logan also likes to make bodies for ink and fountain pens, using a kit for the metal parts, and they’re beginning to make stylus tips. He has about 20 displayed for sale in their shop.

Other projects also appeal to Logan.

“I refinished an old walnut stock on a muzzle loader,” Logan said.

Their bowls are for sale at Dos XX Okies Fine Art and Stuff, at 215 N. Muskogee.

 

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