Portland wood turner, Mel Borg considers himself a Christian first, a ship Captain, a carpenter, a dutiful son to his aging parents and a self-taught master wood turner.

He first tried his hand at turning wood when he was in grade school. His tools were an electric hand-drill and a broken hacksaw blade. He turned out a few bowls during his high school years, but didn’t turn another for decades. Now his principal “roughing-out” tool is a twenty ton lathe found in Wrangell, Alaska while helping his brother maneuver a 65-foot ship. Rather than see the lathe “rust into junk”, the owner gave it to Mel who then shipped it to Seattle on a barge, and eventually to his home in Canby, OR.

Mel’s raw materials are either salvaged from a landscape company or the dump. He has used douglas fir, maple, oak, balsamic poplar, incense cedar, black walnut and Baltic birch plywood. His technique is to rough-out the bowl blanks on the twenty ton behemoth, then put them in the basement for a year before they are placed on a shelf near the roof of his metal-skinned shop, where they finish the drying process. He says he has not yet lost a single blank and relishes the opportunity to enhance the natural attributes of each piece, using the “defects” to the advantage of the piece. Almost all his pieces are of one species, particularly the larger ones.  His largest piece started as a chunk of maple that weighed over a thousand pounds as a green piece of stump and ended up as a “free-form bowl.”  Most of Mel’s tools are virtually handmade. They have been adapted to suit his use allowing him to be a mechanical innovator as well artist. He sometimes uses inlay materials around the perimeter of his bowls. The color variances are achieved from the natural color of the wood, with some enhancement from pigments mixed with some finish material.

Over the ten years Mel has been turning-out bowls, he has only sold one piece. The money he raised by selling that piece enabled him to go on a missionary trip. As talented as Mel is, his real passion is his volunteer work which has brought him to Guatemala and Mexico to build orphanages; and to Liberia to aid orphaned, abandoned and abused children whose orphanages are being closed down due to the abuse of the children by the operators. His guiding statement is Proverbs 19:17, “He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord and he will repay”. Therein lies the beauty of his spirit.

We are proud to be exhibiting Mel’s work at the Gallery for the month of  July. This will be Mel’s first public showing of his amazing work. He will be devoting 100% of his profits to benefit Orphan Relief and Rescue to build a Transition Center for the care of these traumatized orphans in West Africa. 50% of proceeds from the sales of Mel Borg’s work, through Caswell Gallery, will be donated to the organization as well.

The Clackamas County Peace Officers’ Benevolent Foundation, whose members arranged this showing of his work, is partnering with Rip Caswell.You can learn more about Orphan Relief and Rescue by going to the website at www.OrphanReliefandRescue.org.

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