Melvin Lindquist | Natural Top Hopi Bowl
Melvin Lindquist

born 1911
Resides in Quincy, Florida

Biography Statement
Melvin Lindquist earned his BS degree from Oakland Polytechnic College Of Engineering in 1935 He began turning in the 1930's as a vertical turret latehr operator for the General Electric Company. In his shop at home, he began an exploration of the vase form through woodturning which has continued for over fifty years. He began turning spalted wood in the late 1950s when he discovered the wood on his land in the New York Adirondacks. He introduced his son to woodworking at that time.

His continuing studies of ancient Oriental, Greek and Indian ceramic vases have been essential to his pursuit of the ideals of the vase form.


For me, the lathe and its accoutrements are simply tools that enable me to get to the end result. After all these years of turning I'm still fascinated by being able to find a useless piece of wood and turn it into something worthwhile. I turn wood for the pure enjoyment of it. Tools and machines have been a way of life for me, and I don't think much about them anymore. At the age of seventy-three, I'm getting old and stiff, but turning is for me being young again as each stiff, old, distressed piece of wood comes alive with a refreshing new chance at life. I once heard about how the Japanese potter Hamada felt about his work in his old age. He said that for him throwing a pot was like walking down the hill with the breeze at his back. For me, turning a bowl is like struggling to climb a very difficult mountain, but finally receiving the reward once I've reached the top.

When I was younger I used to figure skate and I did it with a certain seriousness. Figure skating requires a synthesis of discipline--of mind, body, and tool (the skates) which, after much practice, come together to create a dance-like, seemingly effortless performance. In skating, while learning, you take many spills. After a lot of hard work you learn not to fall, but sometimes because of an imperfection in the ice or an improperly timed jump you fall anyway, only to get back up again. Eventually the practice becomes the skill which with experience becomes repertoire. Beyond technique, there is expression. For me now, woodturning is like figure skating. I work with what I believe are the best tools and the best materials in a wonderful environment, and I perform the moves I've spent my life practicing. Now, there is no more practice, just performance. And now there are no high jumps and youthful spins. I turn wood for my own pleasure. It is like skating on the fresh ice of a pond, gliding along feeling the smoothness and irregularities of the ice through the blades of my skates, with the wind at my face, enjoying the crisp winter air.

Mark Lindquist Harvey K. Littleton