Wood Owl Original Designs The Story Behind the art

This piece is what Lisa Narloch calls her "curly cherry" because the wood comes from a cherry oak tree and has natural spirals

Photo: courtesy of woodowloriginaldesigns.com

The Fall

It all started with a home improvement project and an unlocked ladder.

“Sometimes you hear of the man who had a traumatic brain injury and they next thing you know he’s a concert pianist, and never played piano ever. I think that’s what happened to me. In here everything seems to be magical." - Lisa Narloch

In 2011 Lisa Narloch decided to attempt a few repairs on her Dryden home. But things quickly took a turn for the worse when she only managed to lock one side.

As she recalls, she wasn’t even on the ladder for 20 seconds when it suddenly collapse from under her. “I fell from roof level and my head hit another ladder that I had set up behind me” Narloch said. “I just lifted my head as much as I could because I knew I was falling and my head hit a drain pipe on the ground. I got hit twice”

Her first response was to go to urgent care. They ran an MRI and didn’t see anything, so naturally she thought everything was fine.

It wasn’t until the spring of 2012 when she realized something was really wrong. After getting consistent vascular migraines, she decided to finally go to the emergency room. “Thank god the emergency room doctor knew enough to do a cat scan with contrast.” Narloch said. “He had found an aneurism behind my right eye and it was ready to burst.” The aneurism had only accounted for one of the bumps that remained on her head. Narloch would soon find out after a neurological consult that she had another. “The one behind my eye they were able to repair, but I still have an aneurism in the middle of my brain.“

Wood pieces and root in their original form before they get spun

The Tree

Days before her surgery, well-loved apple trees were cut down from her yard. Her electric company had to remove the tree's in order install new wires in the neighborhood.

“I was so sad and angry and upset.” Narloch said “ I was thinking of what I could do, and someone said ‘save the wood, make a cello’, and I was thinking ‘I don’t know how to do that.” But something told her to give it a shot. After her surgery she took the suggestion and tried to save as many pieces of wood from the tree as possible, and didn’t know how successful she'd be in her condition, but tried anyway.

“I was out there with handsaws and spoons and little shovels trying to dig that one root out because I thought, I’ve got to try to save it. For some reason it’s just something I thought I needed to do.”

That next fall, she bought a lathe – a motor driven tool to spin the wood at high speed. After watching multiple videos on Youtube on how to operate everything, before she knew it was a self-taught artist.

Narloch tries to label each piece of wood once cut to note which tree it is from

The Wood

“The majority of the wood I use is donated, is gifted,” Narloch said.

She has received wood from all over the United States. If some donates her the wood, her motto is to make them a gift, and then give it back to them. She’ll later take what’s left, create art and then donate to local non-profits.

Although the wood is donated, she will only use wood from a tree that are commonly found or local to the country.

She touched on an experience when colleagues brought her bark from an exotic tree, and it brought her to tears. “I’m in shock. I’m turning it and I’m thinking – I cannot.” She said. “for me it was really important that I didn’t do that. I sill have that wood…and I don’t even know what to do with it.”

She couldn’t even sell the wood because she couldn’t bare knowing she may have been a part of someone else turning it. “If I sell it, then I’m propagating the whole idea of somebody making maybe a dollar a day to cut that out of the rain forest in Africa.” Narloch Said. “Maybe I’ll ritually burn it or do something like that.”

She prides herself on utilizing what she calls “fractured pieces” or the ones other turners are afraid to use. “something beautiful can and always does come out of all of this.”

The Business

Narloch soon realized the demand for her pieces from first family and friends but then others who simply heard of her through word of mouth. That’s how Wood Owl Original Designs was born.

“[people] connect with the wood because it is fractured, and it’s split, and it’s got holes and it is damaged. She said. “I think all of us in some way are, I know I definitely am, especially after my fall.”

Based on experiences both personal and with the wood, she is learning that even broken can be beautiful. And thanks to this concept, put an emphasis on giving back through her business. Her slogan on the website is: I create. You buy. We donate. Simple.

The Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service, Advocacy center, The Wild Things Sanctuary, and SPCA to name a few, are all organizations that she currently is affiliated with and donates a portion of her profits to.

“I believe that everything happens for a reason, now the reason why I'm turning wood in my fifty’s I’m not sure.” She said. “But it has to be something”

Narloch’s pieces can be found on her website www.woodowloriginaldesigns.com.

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