Edward Moulthrop | Rare Ashleaf Maple Spheroid
Edward Moulthrop

born 1916
Resides in Atlanta, Georgia

Biography         Statement         Ask the Artist        How To
Ed Moulthrop's bowls are found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art--both in New York City. He was raised in Cleveland, Ohio; he studied architecture in Princeton; and he came to Atlanta to teach architecture at Georgia Tech from 1941 to 1949.

Moulthrop's artistry is documented in the book Craft Today: Poetry of the Physical, prepared by the American Craft Museum and published by Weidenfeld and Nicholson in 1986.


Wood is the most exquisite of all materials. One can sense that nature herself has created fantastic visual and sensual beauty in wood. The exciting quest is to reveal this beauty hidden in the wood, and to attempt to discover those utterly simple shapes or forms which will display this beauty without distracting from it and without imposing conflicting shapes or designs upon the beauty which is already there.

It can be said that each bowl already exists in the trunk of the tree, and one's job is simply to uncover it and somehow chip away the excess wood, much as you would chip away the surrounding stone to uncover a perfect fossil entombed in the stone. Thus not only simple shapes, but a search for a crystal clear finish, or special polishings, can be aimed at best revealing the myriad complexities, the subtle or exotic range of colors, and the etching-like patterns of growth rings which nature has placed there in this amazing block of almost homogeneous material which has grown miraculously as a living material.

These feelings guide me as I work with wood. The lathe and tools, important but not an end in themselves, become a means of expressing the special quality that is "wood."

Ask the Artist

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

I constantly think in terms of design of all things. And constantly am in the "pursuit of beauty."

Do you work alone on your craft, or with others?

I work completely alone, I can think more clearly that way.

Do you ever teach, or take on apprentices?

In the past I have. I do not now teach.

What's the most exciting part of creating your works?

Watching the inherent beauty of the wood appear more clearly as the work proceeds.

What's the most difficult part of creating your works?

Rough shaping the huge forms requires great physical strength.

What sort of technology do you use in your work? Has the technology of your craft changed dramatically over the past 100 years?

My wood, the raw material, is soaked in a solution of "polyethylene glycol #1000," which prevents shrinking and subsequent cracking. My finish varnishes are the latest technical advances.

Do you have any advice for somebody just starting out?

Read books and articles. Have wood as your favorite medium. Love the feel and smell of wood.

What are we missing by experiencing your work through the Internet and not seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/touching it in person?

The tactile feel of polished wood. The smell of walnut wood, cedar, cherry etc.

How To

VIDEO (1.8 MB)

When you cut a piece of log and cut across the tree, you can see in the hand grain the patterns and the colors and you can know that you're going to be working with, so you know that you have a piece of colorful, contrasty, or very black or very yellow.

Joan Mondale Philip Moulthrop