Van Cleave, Timothy

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Timothy Van Cleave developed through the talented hands of renowned master woodturner Jack Straka to become one of Hawaii’s premier woodturners. Born and raised in Hawai`i, Tim was introduced to Jack by his grade school shop teacher where he began to hone the technique and aggressiveness needed to “turn” out high-quality, unique pieces of art. A retired U.S. Navy Seabee, Tim’s service took him to Sicily, Italy, Japan, Greece, Bermuda, and the Philippines. This worldwide travel allowed Tim to use ancient Roman sculptures, Michelangelo’s masterpieces, picturesque Oriental settings, and the wonders of the natural landscape to inspire his designs. Maintaining simplicity and smoothness is the challenge of every piece– from the more traditional bowls to platters, goblets, pens, and coffee scoops.

Lumber mill rejects, trimmings and storm-damaged trees usually provide the bowl stock. Whenever possible, Tim uses a difficult and dangerous, but resource-efficient, ‘coning’ method of cutting bowl blanks. Then he uses the ‘cutting’ method of turning, rather than the more prevalent ‘scraping’ method. This allows for thinner-walled bowls, a Straka hallmark passed on to Tim. Finally, he goes through four to six steps of sanding and then finishes his pieces with hand-rubbed oil.

Many of Tim’s bowls reflect the shape of the traditional Hawaiian `umeke lā`au (wooden bowl) characterized by the rounded bottom. These bowls gave generations of service, and small cracks were lovingly patched with inlaid plugs (called huini, kepa, kiki, pewa, or poho depending on their shape). Tim will occasionally insert a traditional plug as an aesthetic, rather than a repair, decision.

Keep your piece away from direct sunlight or sources of heat. Wash quickly with soap (not detergent) and water when necessary and dry immediately. Avoid overspray from household products like window cleaners, as they can etch the finish. Occasionally apply a coat of mineral oil, allow it soak in overnight, and then wipe piece with a clean, soft cloth.

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