What some see as a scrap of wood or fallen tree limb Rappahannock County trim carpenter Jason Goldman contemplates as art. Creative and fine art at that.
“I’ve been doing carpentry for about 18 years, and somewhere in between there I started playing with scraps of wood,” Goldman says from his current carpentry job at Hopkins Ordinary in Sperryville. “I really enjoy working with hand tools, old hand planes. We call it ‘unplugged woodworking’ — no power tools, all old hand tools. The best way to do that is to go to the flea market and find ’em beat up and fix them up a little bit and start using them to make more stuff.
“At the same time, that got me into tool sharpening,” the carpenter continues. “To get that razor’s edge on all my tools. The best steel is in the older tools. So I started getting the older chisels, because a new Stanley has no edge retention in it, it’s all cheap steel. And then I thought maybe I can make my own handles out of cool wood, and from there I started making chisels.”
As in dozens of chisels.
“My dad bought me a lathe, just a small one, and I got hooked on it until finally I was turning chisels, and turning chisels, and I ended up with like . . . 100 chisels. And my dad said, ‘Why don’t you try to make something else?’ So I started making cutting boards with inlays, then simple bowls, and then progressed into some of these more artsy pieces.”
Living in Rappahannock County ever since his 2001 graduation from Fauquier High School, the 35-year-old Goldman, who lives in Flint Hill, has worked for more than a decade as a specialized trim carpenter for the renowned Stik Gulas of Stik Bilt Custom Carpentry and Renovations.
“He’s a good dude,” the carpenter says of Stik, the talented pair of woodworkers spending the last several years painstakingly restoring Mount Prospect, the 1850s-era estate overlooking Washington that was visited last month by hundreds of tourists during Historic Garden Week.
“I did the bamboo ceiling in the hallway, that’s my jewel right there,” Goldman says. “I worked that whole [four-year] project, did a lot of that trim work in there.”
That said, once his carpentry projects draw to a close his attention turns to that otherwise ordinary chunk of wood spinning creatively in his mind all week.
“I try to only use wood that’s on the ground,” Goldman says. “I have friends locally who are arborists, and they’ll give me some cools pieces. And I get a lot of leftover pieces from work.” He picks up one finely crafted bowl, one of several pulled from his truck for this interview.
“This piece was a part of an old beam from a barn that we remodeled,” he explains. “And this is a piece of maple from my friend’s firewood pile in Amissville. This is a mulberry tree that fell down at my girlfriends’ parents’ house. I would never cut down a live tree to get its wood. I try to harvest my wood responsibly.”
One of his more striking bowls is somehow laden with shiny turquoise.
“It’s Claro Walnut,” says Goldman. “Basically it already had some voids in it — it was the end of a log that had the cracks from drying and I didn’t want to waste it. So with a cloth I broke up the turquoise with a hammer, crushed it with a hammer, and then packed it in there by hand. And I turned it on the lathe.”
For now, Goldman’s woodworking shop is a two-car garage, “the best kind. I mostly do this on weekends. Mainly I make pieces and I’ll sell them online. I post them as I make them. Or if you want something special I’d be more than happy to make you something. Also, I have pieces [on display] at Mountain Mystic Trading Company in Front Royal.”
The carpenter’s many creations — he burns positive little messages on the bottom of every bowl, along with its type of wood — are viewed best on his Instagram page, Jasongoldmanwoodart; and Facebook at Jsongoldman (without the a). Email email@example.com