For John Turk and Brian Hudson, inspiration starts in the soil beneath their feet. It’s watered by the rain. It breathes the same air they breathe. It’s warmed by the same sunshine. The two Asheville woodworkers believe the forested land of western North Carolina is nothing short of a paradise — and one they feel is worth sharing.
Hudson and Turk are the craftsmen behind Bryson Mountain Studio, a home studio tucked away on a ridge in Pisgah National Forest, where the two construct handmade wooden picture frames and mirrors from the mountain laurel, poplar, cedar, and pine that dominate the landscape.
“It’s very peaceful and spiritual and quiet here,” Hudson says. “It gives our minds a lot of space to be creative.”
The studio grew out of Hudson’s love of building and woodworking and Turk’s talents in art and multimedia, and truly blossomed when the pair moved to western North Carolina and found a plentiful — and beautiful — natural resource: mountain laurel.
Mountain laurel wood is hard and dense, and when sliced into cross sections, it reveals rich colors, textures, and shapes. Turk and Hudson found that if they laid out pieces of mountain laurel, the wood took on a mosaic feel.
This intricate mosaic design surrounds their Mountain Laurel Mirror, which won the Home and Garden category of the 2018 Made in NC Awards, to be celebrated on November 10. The slices of wood — round and oblong, light and dark, large and small — fit together perfectly around the glass, framed in pine and cedar. The colors of the wood indicate the age of the tree, and the shapes show how the tree grew. Capturing these elements in the frame also captures a strong sense of place, Turk says.
“You know people that live or work in an office setting that may not even have a window,” Hudson says. “But at least they can have a slice of nature right in their space.”
Turk and Hudson start making a mirror by pulling on their boots, hiking out onto the mountain, and harvesting wood. Then, they slice it, sort it by size, and cure it. Next comes the creative part: They lay out the largest slices of wood to get a feeling of the flow and design they want for the piece. Then, they arrange smaller and smaller slices until they fill in the last spaces with tiny sticks. Finally, they attach the mirror, and the magic is complete.
“It’s very therapeutic,” Hudson says. “All the pieces have to fit perfectly together until you end up with this masterpiece that can give a family many years of enjoyment.”
At Bryson Mountain Studio, Turk and Hudson capture the heart of North Carolina with their use of some of the state’s most iconic trees. It’s the mission of these two craftsmen to pass on that unexpected, spectacular beauty to people throughout the state, for generations to come.
Bryson Mountain Studio
Horse Shoe, NC 28742