Roger Cline
Woodworking
About Roger

Roger Cline

I have been woodworking all my life. One of the first things I can remember as a very small child is sitting on a work bench watching my father work in his cabinet shop in Tacoma, Washington. My father was a professional cabinet maker, and it seemed only natural that I would enjoy working in his shop, both on my own projects and with him on his cabinet work and renovation contracts.


I also came to my music profession as a result of my father’s wood working. My father made violins as a hobby, so my sisters and I enjoyed playing music together on my father’s instruments along with the piano and flute. I became so interested with music that I later pursued studies to be a musician at the University of Michigan. I majored in the double bass at the University of Michigan School of  Music as I was encouraged to switch from the violin to the bass during 9th grade. After I earned a degree in the double bass the war in Vietnam was in full swing, so I auditioned to be a member of the special forces band at the West Point Military Academy, playing the double bass in the concert band, sousaphone in the marching band and woodworking in the base wood shop.

Nearing the end of my stint in the West Point Band, I auditioned for an opening in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I was lucky enough to win the position and I now have been a Member of the CSO since 1973. During all my years performing on the bass I have always found time to continue my woodwork, enjoying the contrast between making real objects and the ephemeral nature of music.

I have been making furniture and sculptural wood bowls since high school, but didn’t start making “art” bowls professionally till 1988 when I was inspired by some pictures of  wooden bowls I happened to see. My first “art” bowls were made for a fund raising project for the Chicago Symphony. After those several dozen bowls, I have numbered my bowls which total nearly 300 signed works.

I have always enjoyed the improvisatory nature and unpredictable outcome of the turning and carving process which can be quite different from the process of creating furniture and cabinets. There is always a conscious design process in creating the bowls and sculptures for me, but my best work usually just “happens” during the actual working process. Pieces of wood that could never be used for furniture building can sometimes yield the most interesting pieces. I enjoy and employ the contrast of  irregular and earthy  woods with the smooth regularity of the round turned or sculpted form. Each piece of wood has to be used differently to gain the “best” result. Working with heavy, “green” wood directly from the forest is a different process than using wood already cut into boards that have been dried, as well. I do my turning on a Conover Lathe that is made in the U.S. and is a copy of traditional old lathes that use a wooden “bed” to hold the head and tailstocks. I use all kinds of turning tools, some that I have made myself, to create the design I am trying to achieve. I carve sculptural pieces with rotary type powered cutters, disc sanders and other hand and power tools; whatever is necessary to achieve the desired result.

My works have been displayed and sold at The Wood Merchant in La Conner, Washington, Simply Chicago Art in Chicago, Illinois, The Artisan Shop in Wilmette, Illinois, Fine Line Designs Gallery in Ephraim, Wisconsin, and The Watergate Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Thank you for your interest in my work. I believe that, just as in music, sharing a work of art with an audience is the most important part of the artistic process.
Roger Cline