Selective Focus: Eric Helland

Eric Helland makes things from natural materials. His work shows off the beauty in the texture and grain, and also in the imperfections and missing chunks.

20150528_1933152E.H.: I’ve always dabbled in art starting with drawing as a kid, experimenting with glass in my family’s glass shop in Southern Minnesota, and photography after moving to Duluth. Eight years ago I made my wife a free form wooden bowl and a sofa table and have been working with wood ever since. Being self taught my technique is always changing and I’m forever seeing what I can do differently. Many people prize exotic woods but I think we have beautiful prime woods right here in the Northland. I like finding my own wood and seeing it in its original form, allowing the individual piece of wood to determine what the end product will be instead of having a preconceived idea when I start. Seeing what hidden grains and patterns I can reveal in the wood is my favorite aspect of this work. My style is always changing but I’m probably best known for my free form pieces, leaving live edges or bark on my lathe pieces, incorporating antler into my pens, and working with burls.

Yellow Birch/Walnut "Genie"

Yellow Birch/Walnut “Genie”

Time is always a challenge in one way or another. My biggest challenge is having a “day job” which keeps me out of my shop. Wood is a medium that needs time to dry which can be weeks to years. Some pieces come together like a dream and some require a ridiculous amount of steps and time. I’m always on the search for uncommon wood; burls, forked sections, spalting etc. For most people a half dead tree equals junk wood, for me it means potentially amazing grains and color.
Flaming Box Elder pen/pencil combo in matching box lined with rabbit fur, wood from a blow down on Superior Street

Flaming Box Elder pen/pencil combo in matching box lined with rabbit fur, wood from a blow down on Superior Street

I like seeing peoples reactions to my work and hearing their comments. Its really cool to see someone appreciate the beauty of the wood as much as I do. The idea of one of my works being either displayed or a functional piece in someone’s home is really fulfilling and I take pride in knowing each piece is truly one of a kind.
Walnut free form "Bird Whale"

Walnut free form “Bird Whale”

My work can be seen locally at Park Point Art Fair, Lake Superior Art Festival at Brighton Beach, and Waters of Superior Gallery. My Etsy shop Eric Helland Creations will soon be updated for the holidays. And work can be viewed on Facebook under Eric Helland Creations.
In addition to my bowls, pens, and free forms I’m currently working on some amazingly grained tables and weathered shelves.
Sugar Maple burl

Sugar Maple burl

Walnut double urn

Walnut double urn

Etsy Shop

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