Ray & Martha Rountree
Ray primarily turns “green wood” which is easier on the turner and the tools, but requires a lengthy air-drying time between his Rough Turning and the Final Turning/Finishing stage. His tools include a tractor, chainsaw, wood-lathes (each weighing about 900 lbs.), small air-powered grinders, a multitude of other little tools and lots of sandpaper! Woods native to Tidewater Virginia/North Carolina --such as cherry, maple, holly, box elder, pecan, walnut, magnolia, oak, elm, sycamore -- are his "canvas", and are harvested from damaged or dying trees. Much of his wood is salvaged from the family farms in Suffolk, Virginia, or local tree surgeons.
After penciling her design onto the wood, Martha returns the vessel to Ray for his design execution. This work is labor intensive, often requiring several weeks to complete. After Ray finishes the shaping, sculpting, inlaying and sanding, Martha may highlight some elements by adding color or shading, using pyrography, acrylics, or stain. Finally, Ray seals the vessel with several layers of UV resistant coating and a quality, clear lacquer for protection.
Ray and Martha’s collaborative works are the results of healthy and happy teamwork. Reflecting on their endeavors, they acknowledge that the versatility and success of their work has been achieved because of their partnership. Martha contends, however, that Ray is the Artist; while Ray happily insists that Martha and her designs have pushed him far "outside the box", challenging his skill-level, and advancing his turnings to a level beyond where he would have traveled alone. The results of their pursuits now can be found in private collections coast to coast in more than 35 states and in several foreign countries.