Juneau Artist Gallery

Les Howard


Les was born and raised in north central Wisconsin. In 1971 Les moved to Alaska and has been in Juneau since 1975.

Soon after retirement from the State of Alaska Les came across an article in a woodworking magazine that presented a “ball within a ball” wood ornament. “How do I do this” Thus began his fascination with fine woodcrafts and woodturning. Les managed to create the ornament from a combination of backyard cottonwood and red alder, managing to avoid serious injury while cutting components on a table saw, fine-tuning the cuts with a totally inadequate tabletop jointer and finally turning the ball on a mini-lathe. Thus began the world of fine woodcrafts.

A natural progression of woodturning was adding the natural beauty of woods to functional devices such as pens and pencils. Source catalogs for the base components provided a plethora of other applications such as compact mirrors, key rings, peppermills and wine glasses. The transformation of a piece of wood into shaped forms like bowls and vases was also advanced with larger lathes. As an aside but having the tools anyway, Les has produced custom picture frames from rough cut woods.

Les feels that the art in woodturning is the transformation of wood from that tree in the backyard to a finely turned, finished product that reveals the natural grains and features of the wood itself. All creations have a clear finish, most often tung oil, which enhances the natural beauty. While there are many books, videos and even formal courses in woodturning, Les has undertaken no formal training and uses books and magazines as a quick reference.

Les concentrates on Alaskan woods for his works. Douglas Maple, the only maple native to Alaska, is his premier wood. He harvests it from his cabin property at Hood Bay, Alaska.  His favorite non-Alaskan wood is Algerita, native to the SW USA. It is a strikingly contrasted wood with a yellow sapwood and a deep brown heartwood. He harvests it from private properties in New Mexico. A unique wood recently acquired is ancient Kauri, 40,000 years old recovered from bogs in New Zealand.

Contact Hopper Limited Studios 5890 Mountain Avenue

Juneau, Alaska, 99801

(907) 780-4735   http//hopperltd@gci.net