About

What I do when I'm not making bowls.

About me  

My name is Michael Quataert, I have always been interested in woodworking, and over the last few decades I've been even more drawn to woodturning. I suppose it's a reaction to the uniformity and stylistic sterility of modern goods and homes where everything is machine-made, artificial and standardized. Wood, like many crafts such as pottery, allows us to work with our hands and fashion something unique with the raw materials that nature has given us.

For example, when I find a piece of timber that has a crack or void, I don't discard it, nor do I attempt to disguise it. Instead, I use the opportunity to celebrate its uniqueness and to highlight the character of the timber itself. I try not to hide the timber under a plastic film but prefer an oil finish that allows the fingers to sense the warmth, the weight and the texture of the wood underneath. It's a way of connecting with nature and part of the total experience of owning a wood bowl.

All of the bowls listed are completely hand-made by me.  Nobody else participated in the crafting of the bowls.

That being said, I want to credit my wife who is a potter.  Observing her art, her passion for her work, her design and color sensibilities, has informed my work.  Wood and clay are very different media, but her general approach and the expressiveness of her craft inspire me.

Similarly, my sister Pam is an extraordinary artist, and her creativity continues to delight.  You can view some of her work at https://www.PDQuat.com/ 

Mission  

All net proceeds from the sale of my work are donated to two non-profit schools that serve children that come from families that, while economically challenged, truly care about education.  

One of the schools, El Primer Paso (“The First Step”), is a pre-school that for more than 50 years, in addition to all the other pre-school requirements, has been preparing children to be fluent in English by the time they reach kindergarten.  Language skills are essential to academic success, especially at that young age, and El Primer Paso has the track record to warrant your support.  El Primer Paso is located in Dover, NJ.  Learn more at https://www.ElPrimerPaso.org/ 

The second school, Nativity Preparatory Academy, provides quality middle-school education specifically designed for inner-city students that have not been well served by the schools they attended.  The school provides an opportunity to children to receive a high-quality education that would make any parent envious. Nativity Prep is located in Rochester, NY. Learn more at http://NativityRochester.org/

How to care for a wooden bowl

In general, there are three types of wood bowls: (1) purely decorative; (2) utility bowls for dry items; (3) utility bowls for wet and dry items.  

Decorative bowls should be handled with the same care as any decorative item.  Often, they are coated with a high-gloss hard finish in order to preserve its appearance, much like a fine piece of furniture or even a piano.  Repairing that finish, should it need it, is best left to a person with experience.  If one of my decorative bowls becomes damaged, you can also contact me to discuss having it repaired. 

The same advice holds for utility bowls that are coated with a high-gloss hard finish.  Enjoy the bowl, use it, and expect it to wear over time.  If you ever want it refinished, contact me to discuss the feasibility. 

The advice is different for utility bowls that are coated with an oil-type finish, aka wooden salad bowls.  Wooden salad bowls are surprisingly durable and with minimal care they can last for decades. They are made to be used and will look and feel the better for it. In use, the first knock or stain may look like a blemish, but after a hundred it becomes a patina. Time and use are a wooden bowl's friends.

You can hand-wash the bowl in hot water and detergent and hand-dry it. Do not put it into a dishwasher. The most important thing is to not let it stand in water for too long a time. And, no, you can't microwave it or otherwise heat food in it.

If you ever want to spiff it up between uses, give the bowl a good coat of pure flaxseed or linseed oil, pure tung oil, or walnut oil, the same type that you might use on a salad, and wipe off the excess after about an hour. You can also use mineral oil, though it doesn't last very long and never dries. Do not use vegetable oil because it could turn rancid. Never put anything, like furniture polish, on a wooden utility bowl that you wouldn't put directly into your mouth.