Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Sonny of Sonny Jones Woodturner

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
This talented woodturner takes local to a new level.  He’ll take wood from a tree in your backyard and ‘turn’ it into a family heirloom.  Meet Sonny of Sonny Jones Woodturner.

Hello Sonny!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you discovered the art of woodturning.

My father was a farmer and he turned on a homemade lathe when he needed tool handles. I first turned in shop class in high school and then not again until many years later. When my father died, my brother took his old lathe and renewed our interest.  Both of my brothers turn and the three siblings have taught and encouraged each other over the years. Both of my brothers are excellent artisans also. 

I hear that you will even create a custom piece using wood from the client’s own tree. What is the most memorable piece you created?

My most memorable piece would have to be the urn that my brothers and I turned together for our mother's ashes. I turned and hollowed the urn, my brother Ron turned the base and my brother Tom turned the top finial.  I had one client who asked me to make an assortment of pieces from a tree that was in the backyard of her family home. She gave the pieces to her relatives as gifts for Christmas. I like the idea that my pieces might be handed down from one generation to the next.

Do you have a favorite piece to make?  What about a favorite type of wood?

Turning is therapeutic. So rather than a favorite piece, I enjoy the process. Of course some pieces are more pleasing than others after they are finished. As for a favorite type of wood, I prefer free wood. I, like most wood turners, do not cut down trees to turn. I harvest local, sustainable wood from trees that have to be removed or have fallen during a storm. "Don't burn it. Turn it!" My friends will call me to tell me about wood lying by the side of the road. When I get pieces of wood from someone who has lost a tree, I often will make that person an heirloom piece in exchange for the wood.  The best woods are burls, which are those bumps that sometimes grow on the side of trees.  

What types of work are you showing at Arts on the Square?

I am a chef by trade and so many of my pieces are culinary inspired. Bowls, rolling pins, wine bottle stoppers, mortar and pestles, platters and pepper mills. These items are functional. Other functional items include wooden pens and vessels that might be used to hold the ashes of a loved departed pet. I will also bring more artistic pieces.

Where do you primarily sell your work and you do many festivals and events?

Art on Main, 71 North Main Street, Pittston. I have been fortunate enough to have my work presented at the Fine Arts Fiesta and the Wyoming Valley Art League in Wilkes Barre, the Focus Art Show at the Butternut Gallery in Tunkhannock, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Art Show and the "Art of the State" Show in Harrisburg. 

Where else can our readers find your work?
I would encourage everyone to visit my website - and if you do, please be sure to leave a comment.

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

Art is everywhere and it is in everyone. Explore your artistic side.

Business Name: Sonny Jones Woodturner
Hometown: Pittston, Pa

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