From fallen trees to art: A Q&A with wood artist Lindsay E. Frost

Lindsay E. Frost (lindsayefrost.com) has a wonderful relationship with wood. It is her medium, but it is also her muse. “Spirits need to live on in something,” she said. “Why not wood?”

LEO: What type of artist are you?
Lindsay E. Frost: I consider myself a wood artist. I make containers from the wood of fallen trees. I also make treenware [small domestic wooden objects], buttons and sometimes freeform objects. I use all types of wood that has already fallen.

When did you begin making art?
I would have to say in the sandbox. You shape, pile, dig, build, move the sand around. You add twigs, toys, water, whatever is on hand. You go for a walk with mom and pick up stuff off the ground and put it in your pocket and take it home. Soon you have a collections of things. You dump them onto the floor and start making things. Then along came life, and my art was interrupted. And after a while I interrupted life, and now I am doing what [I] love to do. I still pick up pieces of nature when on a walk. Lots of people do.

Explain your artistic process.
That’s a hard one. And so many different forces come into play. But, one thing I have learned, is that you cannot force wood to do what it doesn’t want to do. I go into my basement studio to work, not having anything definite in mind but to work. I look at the woods I have in my basement — size, deformities, what calls to me. I will start by removing wood for the bowl part. There I can see any fungus, void or problem areas. When the bowl part is pretty well done, I will start removing the outside bark. That gives me another view of the wood. So back and forth. Sometimes, when I am removing wood for the bowl part, I will get a mental image of what the wood wants. For example, long legs, short legs, no legs. Then I will draw that image on the bottom of the wood. I use power tools to rapidly remove the unwanted wood. Then I move to burrs, and then to sandpaper and finish with five coats of a food safe finish. This seals any chemicals in the wood. Each container comes with a card that has a number pertaining to the bowl, where the wood came from and something about the bowl itself.

Blue Ash by Lindsay E. Frost
Blue Ash by Lindsay E. Frost

Once, when I wanted to enter a show, I wanted to do a large piece using ash, which is dying in large numbers. I started the piece, but had not really planned it out. Things just were not working. Then, I had a mental image of a large piece of ash I had in the garage. I went out and got it, started work, doing what the wood wanted. Working on that piece of wood put me into a groove, a period of time when time did not matter — another world. Two or three hours later, I returned from wherever I was and was amazed how the spirit of the wood guided my hands.

What are you working on now and what do you plan to do next?
I was given several large pieces of wild cherry. I … am still working on it. It is oval, about 16 inches by 12 inches and roughly 5 inches high. The grain is gorgeous, but with many cracks. Right now I am filling the cracks with lichens from trees, then pouring a clear resin into the cracks to seal the lichens and make the bowl stronger. I want to do more large bowls, but also have a need to do some large abstract pieces. I’ve done some small pieces, but I have a driving urge to do larger.

What is something people do not know about you?
Many of us plant a tree in memory of someone. I planted a tree in memory of the loss of my first greyhound. If something happened to that tree, I would make something from it. I will do that for anyone.

About the Author

From fallen trees to art: A Q&A with wood artist Lindsay E. Frost

Jo Anne Triplett is the contributing visual arts editor at LEO Weekly. She’s a past member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Public Art, was the content advisor on the Glassworks Building video, and has written for Louisville Magazine, Kentucky Homes and Gardens and the national publication Glass Craftsman. Jo Anne came to Louisville from Washington, D.C. where she worked as a researcher and writer for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

 

 

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