“You immediately see the form,” Wells said. “It’s a very hands-on process. I’m working directly with the color and grain and pattern and texture of the wood. I’m looking for what the wood has to offer.”
Wells story begins when he was about 10 years old.
“I did a lot of messing around with my dad who was a carpenter,” Wells, now 62, said. “I always felt I wanted to work with wood and I inherited a bunch of tools from him.”
He actually began as an elementary school teacher, but when his two children were born, he was able to stay home for several years working with wood as a hobby. Then in 1989, his family lost their home in the massive Loma Prieta earthquake. He spent the next 3 ½ years building a new house, from wood. When the house was finished, rather than returning to the classroom, he decided to try his hand at commercial woodworking. He handed out business cards to cabinetmakers, furniture stores and stair makers and immediately began receiving calls for custom wood work.
He sort of bumbled through the first couple of years, adding tools and learning techniques along the way. At one point he received a job to build four 12-foot-by-8–inch columns for The Venetian hotel in Las Vegas that were to be used as molds for concrete columns. With his workshop roof only 10-feet tall, the project wound up in the driveway with he, his two boys and his wife madly brushing glue on pieces of wood on a hot summer day.
“It was just ridiculous, but it worked,” Wells said.
Eventually, with the economy failing in the late 2000s, the market for customized wood architecture dried up and Wells decided to try his hand at turning bowls and platters, rather than architecture.
He uses many hard woods, ranging from walnut to live oak and tan oak, maple, walnut and bay, and occasionally turns redwood, a soft wood. Much of his wood is found in the forest in San Lorenzo Valley.
“I love wood so much because of the color and feel,” he said. “It’s just really exciting to me.”
Wells’ studio can be found at 445 Spring Creek Road in Boulder Creek.
The 28th Annual Open Studios self-guided Art Tour will take place during the first three weekends in October. Most of the following studios in the North end of the county will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 5 and 6 and for an encore weekend on Oct. 19 and 20. Organizers have produced a calendar with full contact information and maps for all of the artists. For information: www.artscouncilsc.org or 475-9600.
Michael Singer, 1170 El Solyo Heights Dr., Felton: Custom fine furniture
Nancy Riedell, 6385 Highway 9, Felton: Big, bold watercolors
Marc Shargel, 190 Orchard Road, Felton: Ocean photography
Karen Asherah, 1911 Sleepy Hollow Lane, Felton: Equine and nature photography
Katie Fitzgerald, 1911 Sleepy Hollow Lane, Felton: Mixed media plaster, paint
Jill Sanders, 9860 East Zayante Road, Felton: Wearable art, handwovens, banners
Kevin Leopold, 123 Madrone Way, Felton: Flame-worked art glass
Nancy Brookie-Connor, 15 Manzanita, Mount Hermon: Natural world mixed media, watercolor
Susan Cafarelli Burke, 104 Golden Eagle Court, Scotts Valley: Colorful paintings of nature
Shirley Lehner-Rhoades, 125 Hilltop Way, Scotts Valley: Paintings, gourd art
Dan Golden, 24-A Meadow Way, Scotts Valley: Art glass, jewelry
John Joy, 372 Lucinda Street, Scotts Valley: Stained glass, copper garden sculptures
Andrea Dana-McCullough, 760 Pinecone Drive, Scotts Valley: Mugs, bowls, vases, etc.
Matthew Werner, 3016 Glen Canyon Road, Santa Cruz: Handcrafted furniture
Acacia Fruitgarden, 330 Azalea Avenue, Ben Lomond, silkscreen monoprints
Laurus Myth, 9341 Mill Street, Ben Lomond: Large acrylic and fabric paintings
Honora Bacon, 9341 Mill Street, Ben Lomond: Celestial clay bodies in functional form
Travis Adams, 9341 Mill Street, Ben Lomond: Functional ceramics and clay sculptures
Dana Harris, 260 Fairview Avenue, Ben Lomond: Dreamlike lithographs and monotypes
Frank Leonard, 10295 Riverside Drive, Ben Lomond: Retro nudes
Tamara Kley Contini, 11360 Berkeley Way, Brookdale: Wildlife and nature photos
Laurie and Dan Hennig, 211 Grove Street, Boulder Creek: Playful clay art
Cristy Aloysi and Scott Graham, 13163 Azalea Avenue, Boulder Creek: Blown glass and jewelry
Kristine Mangliers, 125 Garden Lane, Boulder Creek: hand-carved gourd vessels and masks
Katie Enewold, 125 Garden Lane, Boulder Creek: Jewelry
Christine Charter Moorhead, 125 Garden Lane, Boulder Creek: Glass art lamps, windows, screens
John Wells, 445 Spring Creek Road, Boulder Creek: Turned and carved wood vessels
Melissa and Mattie Leeds, 7258 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz: Glazed pots, fountains, sculptures
Steve and Walker Hum, 7011 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz: Unique garden lanterns
Tess Hope Hasty, 600 Martin Road, Santa Cruz: Soulscapes
Joan Hellenthal, 4177 Smith Grade, Santa Cruz: Oil and pastel paintings
Jill Faragher, 2700 Smith Grade, Santa Cruz: Paintings