All Day Turning Event Featuring Denise DeRose

[note]In a continuing effort to bring you the very best of available wood turners, we are very pleased to have Denise DeRose available to us for a day long turning event on April 8th. The demonstration will take place at Nancy Sweazey’s shop beginning at 9:00 am. Denise is an extremely well known turner who specializes in making handbags. The following is the Denise’s artistic statement.[/note]

Artistic Statement
Denise M. DeRose

denise deroseAlthough I do not have formal artistic training, I have been a maker all of my life in several mediums. In the 70’s I was a potter and a florist, in the 80’s a poet and short story writer, in the 90’s I ran a small business sourcing, refurbishing and selling antique light fixtures, and in the most recent decades, after my father died and I inherited his shop, I have become a woodturner. Turning has been my deepest exploration to date. Although I have sold my crafts in several mediums, I have also enjoyed professions as a high school writing teacher and as an attorney. Today my day job is working as in-house counsel for Intel, but that is my job. It is my art and my craft that I wake up thinking about. I live and maintain my studio in Oakland, California, where I spend about 20 hours a week in my shop.

I received most of my woodturning training by taking dozens of classes and private lessons from professional turners and by attending residential classes and acting as a teaching assistant at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinberg, Tennessee. I am also a member of the Bay Area Woodturners Association and have been the Vice President of this organization. I am a contributing author for the American Woodturner Journal, and have written articles for the Journal over the past two years. I am also a member of the Advisory Committee for the Journal.

denise derose handbagAs a turner, I initially built my skills by making bowls and vessels – mostly functional and decorative items. I specialized in very large functional bowls from urban and orchard salvaged trees. Because I use salvaged wood, I can turn oversized pieces – bowls up to 30 inches in diameter from a single piece of green wood. Within the last two years, I have begun making handbags from wood, and found a woodturning niche that is unique and exciting to me. The design and engineering aspect of making beautiful functional handbags from wood has intrigued and challenged me, and I find myself spending more time away from the lathe on carving, painting, and other surface treatments. I have also begun doing the metal work necessary for the bags – hinges, clasps, handles and decorative repousse panels.

Since 2005, I have participated in many juried fairs and festivals, including the Celebration of Craftswomen, the Mill Valley Fall Art Festival, the Marin Art Festival and the Los Altos Art in the Park Festival, and the American Craft Council and Sausalito Art shows in 2010.

denise derose handbagI have only recently begun submitting my work to exhibitions and galleries. In 2009, my work was shown at the “In the Bag” Exhibition at the Olive Hyde Gallery in Fremont, California, at the “National Art Encounter 2009” at ThevonLiebigArtCenter, in Naples, Florida. In 2010, my work was shown at the “Hard & Soft” Exhibition in Denton, Texas and in the MetalWood vs.WoodMetal, The Crucible’s Cathedral Gallery, Oakland, California. My bags will also be carried in the AAW Gallery of Wood Art Gift Store in 2010. Indeed, because my handbags straddle the boundary between fashion, functional craft and art, it has been difficult for me to find the proper venue for them. My bags are featured at the exclusive Circle & Square boutique in San Francisco.

denise derose handbagMy connection to this form – the handbag — has puzzled me, and the symbolic potential of this form intrigues me. I myself have only one utilitarian handbag at a time, and “Fashion” and Denise DeRose have only a passing acquaintance. But there are few things more connected to a woman than her handbag, this physical object always kept, selectively filled and emptied, always close, the feeling of groundlessness when it is left behind. As I move forward with my work, I am interested in exploring the notion of the handbag as a metaphor for the building of a self. What must a woman bring with her? What does a woman carry? What does she need and choose to bring forth or to leave behind – from a past, a parent, a place? The purse, like the woman, is all about inner spaces. What, in a woman’s inner self, must she carry with her, and how might it be expressed through the symbolism of the handbag and its contents. These are all questions left for me to explore.

denise derose handbagJudging from my past history, and the direction my turning has taken over the last year, it is difficult for me to look ahead and predict where my creativity and increasing skills will take me. But I am certain that the path will be eventful, and that I will pursue it with energy and devotion.

You can see more of Denise’s work on her website at

The only way we can continue to bring in great turners is to have our membership participate. There are still spaces available. If you are interested in attending this demonstration please contact, Jim Cotter at 206- 954-9548.