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Spencer Peterman

Natural Edge Spaulted Maple Bowls

Functional Art from Fallen Trees

The end of life for trees is the beginning of Spencer Peterman’s artistry.

Spencer scours the woods near his studio in Western Massachusetts looking for fallen trees, then he turns his finds into stunning bowls that celebrate the life and death of trees. His spaulted bowls are named for the natural veining, or spaulting, that occurs when wood begins to decompose. An important part of the craft is timing. Spencer collects his
moss- and dirt-covered castoffs and waits until the right time in the decomposition process to work the wood on a lathe. Then the bowls are kiln-dried at a very high temperature to sterilize and stabilize the wood.

We’re delighted to feature his spaulted maple bowls, which have natural, ragged edges, and his spaulted maple salad tossers. The handcrafted pieces look like works of art, but they’re meant to be used and enjoyed (cleanup is simple with mild soap and water). Each bowl is a one-of-a-kind creation, and we love that the wood is either found or donated. Spencer never cuts down trees, although if you have a beloved tree that has fallen, he can make it into a bowl for you. A unique and inspired gift for someone special on your holiday list.

— Ann
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Spencer Peterman - Natural Edge Maple Bowl

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Grommet Launch Conversation

  • Spencer
    Spencer

    I am always on the lookout for fallen trees rotting in the woods. A nice hunk of rotting wood gets me excited. A closer look will reveal wonderfully disfigured wood as it starts its decomposition process. As I turn it on my lathe, I am able to bring forth a unique wooden bowl with its own personality. Although it's beautiful, it's meant to be used and enjoyed! I hope that you love these bowls as much as I love making them!

  • Linda
    Linda
    10/21/09 12:33 PM

    I have seen these bowls in person at a friend's house. They are pretty amazing. Never seen anything like them. Would make a very special and "wow" gift. Nice find Grommet.

  • Lisa
    Lisa
    10/21/09 12:50 PM

    These are spectacular...I really love everything about them - the way they look and the story too. The fact that they are from fallen trees and now have a new life is such a romantic notion as well - love this product!

  • matt
    matt
    10/21/09 2:00 PM

    very cool. how long does the whole process take to make the bowls?

  • Lucie
    Lucie
    10/21/09 3:46 PM

    Hello Spenser!! I love these bowls. They look like they would be even more impressive in person. I would consider giving this as a wedding gift. I like a big heavy bowl in a presentation. The big one looks like its heavy (which I like). How much does the big one weigh?

  • joanne
    joanne – Grommet Team
    10/21/09 4:02 PM

    @Lucie...the sample bowl we are showing is almost 7 pounds. Each one is substantial and unique and may be a slightly different weight.

  • Deb
    Deb – Grommet Team
    10/21/09 4:39 PM

    I had the pleasure of seeing these bowls with Sara. They are magnificent! Very dramatic, very beautiful, and very practical. Spencer mentioned to us that he has a friend who has one of his bowls and always offers to bring a salad to parties. Time and time again he gets orders for additional bowls from the party guests.

  • Spencer
    Spencer – Special Guest
    10/21/09 4:43 PM

    Thank you for your comments. Lucie - The largest bowl will vary in weight from 5-7 pounds. Matt - the whole process requires great patience and timing. It can take up to 10 years for a tree to complete its spalting process and I am constantly monitoring each tree limb in my collection to begin the shaping phase at the best time. At that point it takes three weeks to kiln dry, cut, form, shape, sand and polish the wooden bowls.

  • Barbara
    Barbara – Grommet Team
    10/21/09 6:05 PM

    I am seriously about to send this link to my mother-in-law as a holiday hint. Can you recommend the best size bowl to serve as a somewhat-generous salad bowl (not serving bowl, but to complement my pottery when we serve salads with a meal)?

  • Mark
    Mark
    10/21/09 6:11 PM

    Beautiful! The natural variations make each of these unique, a artful departure from our mass produced surroundings! Spencer, do you use any other wood besides maple? How about oak?

    Thanks!

    Mark

  • Sara
    Sara – Grommet Team
    10/21/09 8:01 PM

    Barbara, you have to go with the 18" bowl. It is so gorgeous and makes such a statement. Guaranteed to get oohs and aahs from the crowd! You'll never need another salad bowl. And when its not being used, it makes a magnificent display centerpiece.

  • JoanP.
    JoanP.
    10/21/09 8:08 PM

    Spencer, I was in Vermont recently at the Simon Pearce studios. They had your bowls in their shop. Stunning. Now they are on Grommet!

  • Sara
    Sara – Grommet Team
    10/26/09 11:42 AM

    Over the weekend Jesse, our video master and Sue, our photo guru bought 3 of Spencer's bowls as gifts for their own families. I guess that's an endorsement of how beautiful they are... they saw these bowls up close and personal (just like they see us!!) Thanks Jesse and Sue!

  • Spencer
    Spencer – Special Guest
    10/26/09 3:25 PM

    Mark besides Maple. We make bowls out of Black Walnut, Cherry, and oak.

  • Jules
    Jules – Grommet Team
    10/26/09 9:45 PM

    REALLY a treat to find that the great blog Apartment Therapy picked up the Spencer Peterman story from us: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/boston/tag/Spencer+Peterman

  • Concetta
    Concetta
    1/13/11 2:44 PM

    I think these bowls are just gorgeous! I am looking for a unique thank you gift for a family my son stayed with that I don't personally know. I thought of using the small bowl combined with the beautiful soap pebbles from Afghanistan.

    I was wondering would the soap be usable in the bowl?? Both unique hand art and the shiny rock looking soap against the rustic natural bowl would make a lovely gift.

    Thank you and I just love your site!

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    1/13/11 2:54 PM

    @Concetta : What a wonderful idea! You can hand wash these bowls with mild soap and water, so there should be no problem using the bowl to hold the Arghand Soap Stones.

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