Craftsman seeking new challenges

Whether he is fixing a beaten up bicycle or shaping a bowl from a rough piece of wood, 16-year old Wesley Davis applies skill and creativity to his work. Davis, a junior at Ashland High School, demonstrated his wood turning skills when he was recently featured on Southern Oregon Public Television as part its Student Showcase production. Davis' father is proud of his son's artistic abilities, but he isn't surprised.

"He has always been really sensitive and focused. He can take something and follow it through to its creative or mechanical end. Wesley is very mechanically inclined, the woodworking was a natural progression for him. He's been working with his hands since he was little," said Art Davis. Wesley recently returned from a four-day mountain bike camp where he careened down treacherous hills and narrow trails at a break-neck pace. After returning home, Davis sat down with the Daily Tidings and talked about wood turning, cycling and the art of working with one's hands.

Daily Tidings: What are some of your favorite subjects in school?

Wesley Davis: I like mechanics, wood shop and social studies.

DT: When did you first become interested in woodwork?

WD: I first became interested in the beginning of my freshman year.

DT: Talk about a teacher who has had an impact on your work and interest in woodworking.

WD: Well, there are really two people. John Weston and Christian Burchard. They both influenced, taught and pushed me to create some really cool pieces.

DT: What is one of your favorite things about woodworking?

WD: The personal touch I can put on my pieces. That makes them unique and special to me.

DT: What is one of your least favorite things about woodworking?

WD: When I mess up on a piece and I have to start over.

DT: When creating something like a bowl or a sculpture, how do you begin? Do you draw it first?

WD: No. Some people draw. I like to cut off a chunk of log, look at it, and figure out what it is going to be. Then I shape it on the lathe. If you're doing a bowl you can see how it will look just from the piece of wood.

DT: Have you shown your work at a gallery or art venue?

WD: I have: The Best of the Best Student Art Show in Grants Pass.

DT: Are you having any showings of your work in the future?

WD: I hope so.

DT: What are some of your other interests?

WD: Cycling is my biggest passion. I also love snowboarding.

DT: You recently returned from a mountain biking camp. Talk about that a little.

WD: I was at the NW School of Freeride. It's part of Windell's Ranch near Mt. Hood. They have snowboarding camps in the winter, but in the summer the trails are used for mountain biking. It was incredible. They asked me to come back as an intern and work there next year.

DT: What is freeriding?

WD: It's downhill mountain biking, jumps and stunts.

DT: Do you ever have trouble balancing school work with your other interests?

WD: Not very often, but sometimes I find it hard to keep them balanced.

DT: What do you want to do when you graduate high school?

WD: I haven't really decided yet, but I love cars, so I think that a career in the automotive industry would fit me nicely.

DT: Talk about someone who inspires you.

WD: Definitely this mountain biker named Bobby McMullen. He is legally blind but still does what he loves, and that absolutely amazes me.

DT: Tell me something you have done recently that makes you proud.

WD: I recently did a student showcase for SOPTV for my wood turning.

DT: Tell me about a parent or relative you are proud of.

WD: My dad. It amazes me that he can get up every weekday at 5 a.m. to work a 10-hour day and still be able to hang out with me on the weekends and take time with his family.

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