Revealing the Nature And Beauty of Wood
Grain. Boles. Heartwood. These, and a handful more terms specifically related to woodworking, fall comfortably from the lips of Frank Grusauskas as he surveys the rooms of his Falls Village home, which are filled with elegantly sculptured bowls, boxes, tables and vases he has created. You could say that he is as much a celebrator of the unusual qualities of wood as a woodworker. It might be a slender trace of bark along a rim, a swirl of peppery grain or a delicate freckling of natural pinholes that makes each piece stand apart from any other.
Monumental bowls and sweeping asymmetrical platters are Grusauskas’s signature mainstay. They reveal his well-developed sensitivity to the endless possibilities contained within the wood. He says he learned early on to use any chunk of timber “from corner to corner,” in other words, to respect the shape and any unusual properties in the raw wood when deciding what to make. This guiding principle allows him to leave much of what he calls “the texture of the tree” in each piece.
Having said that, it is still astonishing to see the panoply of nature’s twists and turns, bumps and edges that fuel Grusauskas’s imagination.
Forming useful objects out of salvaged woods, vines, and shrubs has been an undertaking since childhood. Grusauskas, now in his fifties, says he got his start after his carpenter father entrusted his then 4-year-old son with a jackknife, as well as the freedom to cull materials in the forest surrounding the family’s home.
Until recently, Grusauskas had made a successful career doing custom work for artists in the area, supplemented by fine cabinetry. He describes those who have mentored him along the way, from his first teacher, Bob Green, to sculptor Don Gummer and artist Sandra Boynton. His own pieces have been shown in galleries specializing in fine arts, a testament to his sculptural vision.
His latest series has evolved from a passion to an obsession: to craft bowls, boxes, spoons and other objects from the logs, slabs and chunks of the fallen Twin Oaks trees of Sharon. To date, he has created more than one hundred works from his portion. Grusauskas is part of a wide-ranging group of artisans and others who are transforming the historic timber into artful creations.