A cup of tea with phil brown
Perhaps it’s because they are a charming couple, or perhaps it is because the house is just messy enough to show it's lived in, but being at the house of Phil Brown and Barbara Wolanin feels like home. The collection of craft that they have accumulated over the years ignites your curiosity and childish wonder as your eyes hop between the wood, glass and ceramic vessels. Though, many of the objects are decorative, most have a strong homage to traditional functional-ware.
This same preference is mimicked in Phil’s wood turned artwork. His well-known trumpet-like pieces are only meant to be functional to the eyes. Below is an example of one of these works, where Phil’s unique curvature allows the piece of wood to keep it’s own expression through it’s color and grain pattern.
Artist Phil Brown first found himself in wood turning when someone he knew had some apple wood they were cutting down in Baltimore County. It was the 70’s and Phil had a regular day job but often found himself wanting to do some woodworking in his spare time. With this first piece of wood he wasn’t quite sure what to do. He had read somewhere that he had to seal the ends with wax and so he bought a deep fryer to heat paraffin wax which he used to brush on either end to keep the wood from cracking. It wasn't until years later he learned there is a product you can just paint on from a can. In his early years, Phil taught himself how to turn by following the step-by-step instructions from a book.
Phil fell in love with turning. He started attending exhibitions like the 1975 Jacobson Collection at the Renwick featuring Arthur & Jane Mason and driving up to Pennsylvania for the Woodturning Symposiums. Less than 5 years after beginning woodturning, he expanded his lathe to make 20 inch pieces and began exhibiting nationally.
Since that time, Phil was integral in starting the DC Area Turners and the Montgmery County Woodturning Guild. Today he is a member of the James Renwick Alliance, the Creative Crafts Council and more. Currently he is featured in “Tree Spirits” an exhibition at the Kramer Gallery, with many other upcoming exhibits. Phil exhibited with The Gray Gallery last fall in the exhibition Seasonal Balance.
Learn more on his website www.fineturnedwood.com