Cliff Johns

Design and form have always been of great interest to me. I find woodturning is an excellent way to experiment with both. There seems to be no end to what you find when you explore the world.

My woodworking interests developed early in life when my parents built the family’s first home in Seattle in the late 1950’s. During high school I worked in construction for a neighborhood contractor. It was during this time in a high school shop class that I developed my love of turning. After high school, I entered a four-year apprenticeship program in Seattle and Honolulu to become a journeyman carpenter. At the age of 24 I was the superintendant in charge of my first large project, The American Forestry Pavilion Building at the 1974 World’s Fair in Spokane, Washington. During this period I worked for a contractor that had a cabinet shop so I had access to a lathe. In 1981, I started by own construction business, building and remodeling some of the top restaurants in Seattle. In 1996 my mother gave me a large platter that I had turned in high school, which changed the course of my life. My interest in turning was renewed and I immediately bought a lathe and have since turned every chance I get. In 1999 I moved to Kailua-Kona where I have designed and built a home and studio and am now turning full time.

I am so fortunate to have the many beautiful Hawaiian woods available to me here on the Big Island. The woods I use are procured from arborists, tree trimmers, and sites that are being cleared for development. Living in Hawaiʻi has greatly changed my style of work. The wood that is available to work with in the islands has taught me so much in just exploring it, and the environment here has an even greater influence on what I produce.