Fascinated by the artistic soul and works of Filipino sculptors, media scion and art collector Joel Jimenez taps his creativity through wood turning. He gives cast-off wood a new life by turning them into bowls and platters that show off their natural grain.
Jimenez said he finds kinship with wood, welcoming its untamed, natural characteristics, flaws and all. Most of his bowls are cleanly surfaced to reveal the wood’s exquisite surface.
A form of woodwork, wood turning uses a lathe—a fixed machine tool that rotates the wood on its turning point—to slice, roll, drill, angle and smoothen the surface.
It’s a relaxing antidote to the pressures of Jimenez’s day jobs as executive committee chair for marketing and vice chair for the executive committee of GMA Network Inc. He is also CEO of the family’s company, Menarco Holdings, which is into real estate and agriculture.
His fascination began in childhood, when his father, Menardo Jimenez (No. 27 in Forbes’ list of richest men in the Philippines) bought him woodcarving tools. The younger Jimenez whittled wood into sticks.
While growing up he admired the works of Ramon Orlina, Daniel de la Cruz and Imelda Cadapan, secretly hoping he could enter their creative domain. Jimenez took a shot at woodworking after visiting the atelier of furniture maker Omeng Osmundo.
A video on YouTube inspired Jimenez to follow the still-untrodden path of wood turning in the Philippines. Ordering his lathe and tools from the United States, he started his journey, teaching himself through DVD and online tutorials and books.
Usually after dinner he goes to his backyard workshop, puts on his protective face shield, helmet and gloves, and immerses in his hobby. Jimenez favors narra with its meandering grain that lends exquisiteness to its surface. Burls emerge from the large, lumpy protrusions from the tree trunk.
He looks at the raw form of the wood and imagines the ultimate shape of the bowl. Although the bark may be rough, he can see the potential beauty beneath the layers. The wood’s inherent growth rings and spiral patterns inspire the creation of each unique piece. The wood “whispers” to him to use the lathe and other power and hand tools.
The bowls and platters come in different sizes; some rims are smooth while others have the original rim of the bark. In the end, the lack of machine-like perfection and uniformity of design create the magic in his works. He tries to invest each object with its own spirt.
Treating his bowls like children, Jimenez refuses to part with them. They are proudly displayed in his home like museum pieces.
He says he already signed up for a wood-turning course in the US next year. He believes that pursuing one’s passion makes one feel more alive and enhances personal growth.