Conscientiously crafting high-quality wooden bowls and platters, Vernon Leibrant makes heirloom pieces from the rich variety of Pacific Northwest species near his studio in Everson, WA. Among the varieties at his service are bigleaf maple, alder, red cedar, wild cherry and the ornamental monkey puzzle. When a tree falls in the region, locals know to call the artist, who appreciates the value of salvaging natural resources.
Vernon, who was born and raised in Washington, has worked with trees throughout his life. In his youth, he cut firewood for extra income. One of eleven children, he worked with his father and brothers in the family sawmill and to build the family home. He was employed for many years at a larger milling operation before establishing his own 10-acre commercial apple orchard in the 1970s.
As a woodturner, Vernon is self-taught. He began with a small Sears and Roebuck lathe in his father’s shop and now uses equipment he designs and builds himself. His current lathe, mounted onto a 1000 pound block of concrete, enables him to create the very large (up to 50” wide) works that are his trademark. After each piece is formed, it dries for from two to five months, its shape gradually changing according to its thickness, wood variety, grain and weather conditions. The artist feels that this process adds character to his work, which is then sanded and finished with food safe wax.
In the 1980s, Vernon began to share what was his hobby with the world, entering juried competition and joining the burgeoning American Association of Woodturners. With the help of his wife Karen, he now supplies galleries nationwide with the handmade goods that have been featured in the magazines Food and Wine, House and Garden and Town and Country.