Saturday, January 25, 2014

Discovering the Artisans of Wood

From a block of wood to a bowl. 
Masaya, Nicaragua

Throughout Costa Rica, Fran and I kept seeing this incredible wood work- bowls, plates, cups, 
vases, giant and small, organic and symmetrical. When we crossed into Nicaragua the work 
continued and after chatting with a store owner in San Juan Del Sur, we discovered the source. 
Masaya is a small town about 20 minutes outside of Granada and is a hub for artesanías. Determined
 to locate a workshop, we hit the tourist artisan market and met Maria Gutiérrez. We got her 
home address and took off in a taxi to hunt down her husband. Upon arrival, we explained our 
curiosity and Jose Gutiérrez showed us his simple workshop. After demonstrating a bowl he 
helped both Fran and I make our own! Super incredible experience and I think he was as entertained
 by it as we were.  

To create these pieces, the only machinery used is a bandsaw and a lathe. Similar to glass blowing, 
the outside of the piece is shaped first with the bottom facing outward. It is then rotated on the lathe 
to cut out the inside with the sharpened steel tools. When the inside is removed and all the cuts 
are smoothed out, the piece is sanded before it's removed. The final product is rubbed with beeswax
 that soaks into the wood sealing it and deepening the natural colors. 

The style Fran and I made is about as simple as it gets. Instead of rotating the piece, the bottom
 itself is screwed onto the lathe (so our bowls have shallow holes in the bottom that don't penetrate 
the piece). When working this way, the outside point of the wood starts out as the top of the 
bowl instead of the bottom. 

One of the most common woods used (a beautiful deep red) is called Brasil. I can't believe I 
forgot to ask for the name of the wood we used- but we're headed back to the workshop on 
Monday so it looks like I'll get another chance.

Super stoked on my first introduction to wood and thankful for amazing people that are 
open to sharing knowledge and art. And for my creative man that likes to hunt down these


  1. You two are amazing. There is nothing you cannot do.

  2. Hannah, what a cool story! This reminds me of when Andrew and I were in Costa Rica and went to Guaitil where they make pottery and this guy showed us his workshop and his kiln in the backyard and everything. Love it!! Safe travels. xoxo

  3. Thanks Tori! Wow that sounds like a rad adventure too! The pottery down there is totally awesome xo