A Poem of Appreciation



For Tony Jones


Walnut wood not only has its grain,

the darker thin striations of the tree’s years

within that tawny ground, striped from a blush

of almost pale-rose pink to palest wheatstraw–

waves tugged like isobars around knots

of high pressure where branches began –

pitted with tiny pin-pricks that shoal

against the tide; it also has transverse

stripes of subtle dark and pale, visible

only at an angle to the light,

that defy the eye with a sense of

undulation that is not there beneath

the touch: once it has been sanded silky

smooth as is this perfect bowl. I found

this bowl in England’s most un-English church:

amidst the loud discordant roar of

lavish decoration in Baroque

declaration of wealth and power

to the glory of a God that had made

all this possible. And surely some hand

of inspiration had guided the hand

that lovingly crafted this perfect bowl

of walnut wood: so thin, so strong, so perfect

in its execution; its chaliced

profile lipped and based with confidence

and delicacy; its stroked sound a whisper

of the tree it once was and the life of

the man who made it. Thirty years

in the police force, he said, then I suffered

a stroke on holiday in France; and

retirement offered the chance to regain

the pleasure he’d had as a boy with his

father, messing about with an old lathe

they didn’t really understand. And now

his hand, self-taught he said, made bowls and plates

of ash and sycamore, oak and walnut:

perfect pieces radiant with contentment

for their maker and owners alike.


I told him I would give it as a present

after enjoying it myself for a while,

but already I enjoy it too much

ever to let it go. I love this small bowl,

sixteen centimetres across: so lovely

that not all the gilt and ornate plasterwork

and overstated portraiture of

Baroque superfluity can speak

so loudly or so true

of what a mortal man can do.



Tony Walton






Ashcraft Woodturning


United Kingdom


In order to call Tony

+44 (0)7771 533859 +44 (0)7771 533859


Email: tony@ashcraft.org.uk

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