Segmented Woodturning Artist: Malcolm Tibbetts

November 3, 2022

The shapes defy the expected. Like a magician, he transforms myriad pieces of wood into a puzzling, seamless works of art.

How did he do that?

Meet Malcolm Tibbetts, segmented woodturning artist from South Lake Tahoe. […]

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Well known by many as Heavenly’s mountain manager in the 1980-90’s, Malcolm’s real passion has always been wood working. He started working with wood as a child and fell in love with segmented woodturning 20 years ago.

Segmented woodturning or polychromatic woodturning has been around for a very long time. As Tibbetts explains in the introduction of his book, The Art of Segmented Wood Turning, “Someone probably had the need for a bowl that was larger than their piece of wood and thought, ‘I’ll just glue two pieces together.’

However, segmented wordturning is much more than gluing pieces of wood into a bowl. “It is about creating exciting objects that challenge you and stimulate the interest and enjoyment of others…. This type of craft can be a real opportunity to express oneself with very few limitations. This activity requires extremely precise woodworking skills and often requires a little inventiveness.”

Inventiveness is putting it mild. Malcolm’s work shouts ingenuity.

Click here to view his amazing gallery.

Malcolm uses a combination of domestic and exotic woods from around the world. He uses no stains or dyes. All the colors are natural. He is also very careful not to acquire wood from endangered trees or woods that are responsible for destruction of the South American rainforest.

Malcolm is known as a master in his field, and can be commissioned to create that one-of-a-kind piece.

Artist Statement:

Segmented woodturning is an art form with few limitations. By combining components, I can create just about any shape or size and by arranging different wood species, I can create just about any type of surface design. There are few art forms with this much freedom. This lack of restriction keeps my mind engaged contemplating the possibilities. Long before I have finished one piece, my mind is busy designing and solving the technical challenges of my next project.

I have always loved working with wood and this art form gives me the opportunity to work with woods from around the world. It thereby gives me the opportunity to share these wonderful materials with many people. Beautiful wood is almost a magical substance; gallery visitors experience an uncontrollable urge to touch the surfaces that I have created using these treasures of nature. Many designs require innovative assembly solutions, much like puzzle solving; and just like the joy of solving a puzzle, there is great joy in inventing assembly techniques. I do what I do because “it’s fun” – the designing, the joy of working with wood, the puzzle solving, and the inter-action with other people.