Jason Mast, Pacific Northwest wood turner
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Wood Magazine

Jason Mast, Pacific Northwest wood turner

Growing up on the Oregon coast was a major influence for the shapes of Mast's smooth-flowing turnings.

Turnings with a coastal influence

Turnings with a coastal influence

The central Oregon coast where Jason H. Mast was born in 1986 has greatly influenced his artistry. The ever-shifting lines and shapes in the sand of the nearby beach reflect in the lines and shapes of Jason's turnings.

Growing up, Jason visited the beach frequently and would bring his shovel; he did not use it to build sand castles. Instead, he helped his father, Gareth; dig up buried maple and myrtlewood root burls. On sturgeon fishing trips on the Umpqua River, whenever the boat was taken to shore, Jason would look for driftwood treasures he could sell at his parents' shop, The Myrtlewood Gallery in Reedsport, Oregon. Wood identification was not a subject Jason learned in school; it was simply part of his childhood.

Jason was exposed to fine woodworking before he learned to walk. The family would sit around the living room table, critiquing Dad's latest wood turnings and suggesting future pieces. The concepts of line, proportion, smooth transitions, wood characteristics, color, and figure were part of many family discussions. Jason began turning wood at age 13 and was first recognized nationally by the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) in the 2007 Turning to the Future exhibit. Then as now, like the dunes blowing in the wind, like the waves cresting at the beach, and like the currents flowing in the river, Jason's shapes flow with a sense of nature's elegance. Jason works mainly with locally grown and native Pacific Northwest hardwoods. He chooses his turning stock from a huge assortment of select timbers. His father, Gareth is well known to the local loggers, and they bring him highly figured logs by the truckload. These logs are either chainsawed into turning stock or cut on a Wood Miser sawmill.


 

Great stock is no problem

Great stock is no problem

Jason, Myrtlewood Galleries' resident turner, selects the best stock from literally tons of wood. He has the opportunity to work with world-class timber: myrtlewood, Oregon big-leaf maple, black walnut, cascara, spalted alder and madrone. His favorite woods to turn are myrtlewood and Oregon big-leaf maple, which are cut incidentally to the Douglas fir timber harvests. With its outstanding color and figure, myrtlewood is one of the most beautiful woods in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon big-leaf maple is more consistent in color and often has spectacular figure and burls. "I always try to let the wood speak for itself and attempt to bring out the potential in any given piece of turning stock," he states. "Form is essential, and having great wood to work with is a bonus."

Jason selects a block that has been roughed out on a 14" Rockwell bandsaw. He mounts the block to his Oneway lathe, using a six-hole faceplate and square drive screws. Most of the bottoms are finished with the help of a Oneway vacuum chuck. One of the main tools Jason uses in his hollow turnings is a classic Stewart System Hooker, with an arm brace he borrowed from his father. Another frequently used tool is the Jerry Glaser limited-edition 1/2" bowl gouge, obtained at the 2007 AAW turning symposium in Portland, Oregon. To finish his turnings, Jason applies two coats of Deft oil. A mixture of beeswax and mineral oil completes the project.

At present, The Myrtlewood Gallery handles all of Jason's turnings. In the future, as he develops a larger body of work, Jason plans to branch out into select galleries nationally.


 

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