Artist Returns to His Roots

While watching Jean-Luc Thornton sand a blank board from a northwest pacific maple tree, you would feel destined to seek him out for all eternity.

“I’ve always had wood working in my blood”, Thornton says while standing in his Oregon studio.

From as early as his teen years, Thornton, 57, was learning wood working in high school and even got his first paying job refinishing antique reproductions.  Thornton also received first place awards at the state level in each of his 4 years of high school due to the excellent industrial arts program at Ridgewood High School in New Jersey.  His works during that time included everything from secretary desks to grandfather clocks.  His skills continued to improve through the years and he began working and creating his own furniture as well as sculptures after moving to Hawaii.  “I was able to make my own creations of what I liked to call functional and nonfunctional artwork”.  After about 10 years in Hawaii, he moved back to the mainland and continued perfecting his artwork which led him to Brookings, Oregon.  “This is where a wood worker can really be inspired,” Thornton says, “and my art is just a reflection of my place”.

Then the economic downturn struck in late 2008 which led to Thornton turning his artistry talents of sculpture and furniture making to creating custom wooden urns and keepsakes and forming his own company called, “CustomWoodUrns”.   Discovering this meaningful medium of expression is a homecoming of sorts for the artist.  “My grandfather hand-made coffins in Switzerland,” Thornton recalled, “and my mother was the seamstress for the coffin linings.” Little did Thornton expect that, after working with wood as a sculptor and furniture maker for decades, he would be returning to his family’s roots.

Inside his Brookings studio, Thornton demonstrates his use of various carving chisels and gouges that transforms a piece of wood into a beautiful masterpiece.  Each urn is individually made with Thornton choosing the design from the type of wood grain that is presented and it is the wood that he uses  which sets his work apart from commercially-made urns.  Myrtle and pacific maple, hardwoods with exquisite color, texture and grain patterns, provide inspiration for him to create beautiful and dignified environments.  Thornton has an amazing ability to visualize and transform each urn into a piece of artwork. 

“I feel that people and their pets can to be placed in vessels that become resting places of beauty, as well as touchstones for wonderful memories”.

 

Learn more about Jean-Luc Thornton and his urns at www.custom-wood-urns.com

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