Photograph by Meggan Gould
Ann Prescott’s wood-turning studio in Bath is a 12-by-20-foot garage, where chunks of raw wood are literally turned into vessels, both functional and decorative.
Prescott trained as a counselor and worked for twenty years in human resources. “I just woke up one day and said I have to leave the digital world and do something real.” She began to work with wood in 2002, when her family moved from Florida to Maine. “Something clicked in my brain—wood turning was like pottery with wood, based in the idea of spinning, of something contained in roundness.”
Prescott had never seen a lathe before she walked into her first wood-turning class. The ONEWAY 2436, here seen with a cherry bowl in progress, weighs 1,300 pounds and accommodates pieces of wood up to 24 inches in diameter and 36 inches long. Wood shavings are incorporated into mulch that Prescott uses to make pathways through her organic garden.
Ninety to ninety-five percent of the wood—primarily cherry, maple, apple, walnut, and elm—is from Maine. A phone call about a beloved tree is often the beginning of a project. “The wood search is a very interesting way to get to know your community. Every day becomes a new adventure connecting to trees and people.”
Pieces of Herbie, a 217-year-old elm tree that was taken down in Yarmouth earlier this year, lie waiting to be “revealed.” Herbie became platters and bowls on Prescott’s lathe, and today the pieces are on display at Markings Gallery on Front Street in Bath. “Each tree has its own characteristics,” Prescott explains. “Herbie was like a gnarly old man, fibrous and crotchety, until I got into it and cut it. It finished silky and beautiful.” Prescott’s favorite projects are those that help to memorialize beloved trees. “Trees do have to come down. It is a really special thing to commemorate a beautiful tree with new life.”
On the pegboard wall hang Prescott’s “lessons”—reminders of early work and mistakes—“When I go through the bottom of a bowl and have a beautiful hole, or the goblet cracks.” Prescott teaches wood turning at the Woodturning School in Damariscotta (woodturningschool.org).
Ann Prescott | Bath | annprescottwoodturning.com