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Radiolarian woodworking

By Michael Foster

Michael Foster was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. He went to college at the University of Colorado majoring in biology, and then obtained his DDS degree at the CU School of Dentistry. Mike then went on to complete a 20 year career with the Public Health Service at several locations around the US. His last station was in Alaska, which he loved, but was just too dark in winter for his wife Susan. After retiring from the PHS, he and his family moved to Susan's ancestral home in Springfield, Vermont. Mike and Susan have a daughter who is newly married with one child, Mike's only grandchild. They also have a son who is graduated from MICA, an art school in Maryland majoring in interdisciplinary sculpture and interaction design. Mike is still practicing dentistry full time but makes time to spend in the shop creating his turned objects.

Mike started woodworking soon after he graduated from dental school. He learned basic skills using the shop of a friend who got him interested. Mike bought his first woodworking tool, a Shopsmith, after moving to New York. From this humble beginning Mike has gradually increased his skills and changed his focus from utilitarian to more artistic work. After moving to Vermont, Mike built his dream shop/studio in the first floor of his renovated barn and outfitted it with some nice tools and built their kitchen cabinets for their newly renovated house, which more than paid for the tools. He now turns on a Robust American Beauty and loves it. Mike's turning focus has shifted from segmented/pieced work to interpretations of math and science objects derived from the lathe.

Mike draws inspiration for most of his art from the sciences and nature. He also has explored the interaction of math, science and art and how the combination of these diverse disciplines can be combined into works of art. Some of his work has roots in mathematics, with a series based on the Fibonacci series of numbers and its natural expression in the natural world. He has also explored abstract mathematical forms termed minimal surfaces and fractals. In his exploration of the incredible detail that the scanning electron microscope can reveal he came across scanning electron microscope images of diatoms. The structure that these unicellular organisms produce in their frustules took his breath away and inspired him to try to do justice to their complexity in his art. As Mike explored deeper into diatoms, he naturally came across radiolaria. Just as with diatoms, the intricacy and complexity of the radiolaria skeletons were a subject matter that was irresistible to Mike. He has started a series of work based on Radiolaria as well as his series based on diatoms. As with other artists on this website, the artwork of Ernst Haeckel has been a wealth of inspiration. Mike works on several series of his work and each body of work is slowly expanded with the limited time that Mike has for creating it. Being pulled in multiple directions for his art, it is sometimes hard to choose what to focus the next piece on. The inspiration of the moment is what leads him.

Mike has a website at breezyhillturing.com where you can see his work. Much of his work is for sale, however the website is not set up for sales, acting more as a portfolio of his work. If you are interested in a particular work of art it is best to contact him through email for availability and pricing.