October Featured MCA Member: Peter Asselyn

From building houses with his father, serving as an aircraft electrician in the United States Air Force, and working out in the elements as a telephone lineman, Peter Asselyn has worn many hats over the years; but here at the Maine Crafts Association, we know Peter best for his one of a kind wooden bowls, and other stunning wares made from turned wood, offered at our retail galleries the Center for Maine Craft and Maine Craft Portland, as well as our Shop Maine Craft online gallery.

Recently, Peter graced our retail galleries with an incredible series of wooden bowls made from fallen trees originally planted in 1897 on the property of the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, Maine. Their buttery smooth texture, and unique patterns and markings have made them a favorite of customers and staff alike.

A true artisan, creating wooden masterpieces has become a part of the fabric of Peter’s being. “The rich color and texture of the wood and all the voids in the burl let my imagination fly like an eagle in an updraft. I will always remember, however to give credit where it is due. Mother Nature is the artist, I am only the acolyte.”

Q & A With Peter Asselyn

Q: Where did you grow up? Why did you decide to live/stay in Maine?

A: I was born and raised in Lewiston Maine. I met my wife of 53 years now in high school and stayed in Maine because it is where my heart and family are.

Q: What caused you to make a career change? Did you learn anything in your first profession that affected what you’re doing now?

A: Served USAF from 65 to 69 with service in Korat, Thailand. Shortly after getting out I started work at the Bell System in Portland, Maine. I retired in 1995 and started turning on an old lathe my dad left me when he passed. I had another hobby for a while, lapidary and working stones, but wood-turning won out. When I retired in 1995, my goal was to have a hobby that I enjoyed, and make enough to buy tools. At some point I found I loved wood turning, and it was more enjoyable than a part time job.

Q: Did you have any mentors or major influences?

A: About 15 years ago I was fortunate to meet b. Arnold at the Shaker Village in New Gloucester and he started buying a few bowls every year for the store at the Village. About 7 years ago a very old tree planted by Elder Joseph Bracket came down and b. Arnold asked me if I wanted some wood to make bowls and since then they have lost more trees to storms and old age mostly planted by b. Delmer along the side of-the road. I have continued making bowls from this beautiful wood.

Q: Where do you go to find inspiration for your designs?

A: The inspiration for my work comes from the wood. I love every piece and how unique it can be. I really get excited and when something special happens- it’s a gift.