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Ashley Murphy

My earliest memory of woodworking was using a pocketknife to expose the soft, white wood underneath the bark. That memory still shows in my woodturnings today.

At the age of 15, I started turning small pieces of found branches and roots on a lathe my Father purchased for me at an auction. These turnings led me to apply and be accepted at Leeds Design Workshops in East Hampton, Massachusetts. After two years of woodworking at Leeds Design, I restored a World War I cast iron lathe that gave me the capacity to turn larger pieces.

The capacity for these larger branches and burls was the beginning of the inseparable “search team” of my Father, Uncle John and me, which to this day, is as important as the love of the craft. We traveled together in the infamous green van, loaded with wood, from rainy apple orchards, to yards, and to unexpected roadside treasures. As my boys, Ian and Nicholas got older, they too became part of the “search team” and would come home with special finds……

I was also inspired by John Bratton, my shop teacher from Conestoga Valley High School. One of my special shop projects was the creation of 15 Grandfather clocks, for which I was chosen to turn all the finials. I considered this assignment an honor and a privilege.

In my turnings, I like to incorporate classical lines and shapes as they follow the wood in such a beautiful way. By uncovering the smooth, warm colors that each piece offers, the natural, rough texture of the bark provides an exciting contrast. When the color and grain is discovered under the bark, the name of the piece tells a story or suggests a past experience.

My work has been shown in Zona Gallery in Soho, New York; Highlight Gallery in Mendocino,California; American Craft Council shows in Baltimore and Atlanta and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Thanks to the perseverance of my Father, I have studied with David Ellsworth and Ed Molthrop, both known as woodturning pioneers.

My wife Michelle and I have two children; Ian, his wife Mandi and their two-year old son Ian, Jr., and Nicholas and his fiance Morgan. I deeply appreciate their support and endless smiles as they continue to inspire the pursuit of my dream.