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Chester County Press

Dan Breslow turns wood into art

08/15/2023 04:19PM ● By Steven Hoffman
Few people can resist the allure of a craft show. Everyone is intrigued by creative people, and the process of finding a unique hand-made item. Recently Dan Breslow made an appearance at Ware’s Christmas In July craft show in Oxford, and astounded people with his contributions in the art of wood turning.

“I was the unicorn in the show at Ware,” he said. “My price range may have been higher than others, but I sold very well.” He was the unicorn, and people couldn’t walk by his table without stopping and talking to him and his wife. And many onlookers quickly learned that what they were curiously gazing at was not a craft but an art object.

The difference between crafts and art is obviously in the eye of the beholder, and on any given day that decision is almost impossible. However, certainly the number of people stopping at Breslow’s table kept climbing. And each one had questions: How did you do it? Can you put anything inside of them? What kind of woods do you use?

Breslow and his wife loved the questions and made a good effort to answer many. Breslow retired from a job as a mechanical engineer. How did he get from there to this point, where he is creating such interesting art? “I retired six years ago,” he said. “I dealt a lot with air conditioners, pressure facilities. Then I became a project manager. I moved away from the technical aspect of engineering and became involved with the politics of it. Negotiations are a challenge too.”

Eventually, there was some pressure and stress to his job, but he discovered he liked working under pressure. He also liked the idea of having a bird’s eye view of a project. It wasn’t long after retirement that he jumped into the art of wood turning. He began to create a shop that would be efficient, comfortable, and that would have an atmosphere that stimulated his creative juices. “I love the fact that I only have to step outside my door and I can walk into this world I created,” he explained.

Marrying many different kinds of woods into one piece of art is not as easy as it sounds. Different kinds of wood expand differently and melding them together is not for the faint of heart.
“Gluing all of those woods together takes a lot of time,” he explained. “I have to make sure they are absolutely dry. I have to fit them together perfectly. The glue has to set overnight. I put the completed piece on the lathe turning it, shaping it, sanding it, until it is what I want.”

Once the work is just the way he wants it, he covers it with polyurethane and then more sanding until the finished product looks like glass. He makes bowls, vases, containers that are not really meant to hold anything except maybe dried flowers. But his work stands on its own and doesn’t need any additional decorations. Nothing needs to be placed in the container. It is truly a piece of art.

“The joy is in finding the right kind of wood,” he said. “I work in cherry, mahogany, walnut, oak, maple, dark walnut. I love the contrast between the woods.” It is that contrast, and preciseness that makes everyone stop and stare and ask, “How did you do that?” When they see his work.
“I have researched and realize some colors and shades are more attractive to me. I like dark walnut and cherry together,” he explained. “The thing I like about wood is that it is naturally colored. The textures are different. I love the smell and touch of wood. The shapes you can make are endless. You never know what the finished product will look like. I can combine so many different kinds of wood. It’s as if I’m going on a journey and I don’t know where it will take me. But, I do know when I arrived.”

Transforming wood is one thing, but Breslow was genuinely surprised to find out how much wood transformed his life. “It took me some time to realize how much satisfaction creating gives me,” he said. “The process of being creative has been a wonderful experience for me. I channel every nuance in the wood and let it take me where I should go. Just lately, I have realized what creating means to me. It’s funny I started with a few pieces of wood I had. I put them together and I liked what came out. I’ve gone to art and craft shows but haven’t seen what I do. I do like to see what others do. Wood is beautiful, when you put different woods together, and hand sand it, it is amazing. I’m astonished that more people don’t think about putting different woods together.”
This artist likes doing things by hand. The work is not done on a production line. Breslow loves to create different colors, shapes and sculptures.

“No two pieces are the same,” he explained. “I put a lot of myself into every piece and each piece I’m working on is the best I’ve ever made. I lose track of time. I also discovered something else, my patience is increasing. It takes me hours to create a piece. Of course, you don’t get paid for your time. My prices go from $30 to as high as $200. Not many people do what I do so I don’t have a reference point. I charge what I think people are willing to pay.”

It is not about making money, it is about doing something he is compelled to do. He feels so thankful that, in his retirement, he found something that gives him purpose.
He said, “Every morning, I look at what I’ve created and it brings me joy. Some people don’t understand my art, but that doesn’t bother me. Every person has a unique vision and a unique talent.

“My wife Roz, is my biggest champion. Her support is unbelievable. She likes wood, like I do, but is not into turning wood.  I started getting better  and now she is my biggest fan, she is the force behind us going to shows. She is the marketing director.”

The beauty of his work is that it is never boring. There are many different sides to his creations. Sometimes he keeps the bark on his creations and keeps the piece rough. Other times it may look like glass. Each one is a different size. The light, colors and angles gives his work a thousand faces.

For more information on his work or where he will be showing, email him at: [email protected] or visit his Etsy Store at: woodAsArtByDan.