Metka Zver, O2 Turning Wood, woodturning

Metka Zver

Metka Zver found her mission in creating wooden objects on a lathe. She learned her craft with perseverance, her feel for wood and woodturning, and advice passed down by masters. In her hands, local wood turns into bowls and lights that give voice to her artistic expression, as does reclaimed wood that she transforms into wall decorations. She lives and creates in the Karst where she set up her workshop in an old barn. She shows and sells her creations in the picturesque medieval village of Štanjel, a popular tourist spot.

Name of Craft in the local language
Lesostrugarstvo
Type of Craft
Hand-turned wood bowls, vases, plates and lights from local solid wood
Knowledge Holder
Metka Zver
Location, Website
Štanjel 5b, 6222 Štanjel, Slovenia Link to website
Contact
metka.zver@kisik.si, +386 (0)41 380 034
Type of Business
Self-employed
Year of Establishment
2015

Workshop and sales space
Workshop in an old barn 100 m2, shop 40 m2
Materials
Local wood
Technology / Tools / Machines
Chainsaw, bandsaw, lathe, various woodturning chisels, drill presses, multipurpose rotary tool for final touches, sandpaper, iron brush, small handsaws, carving chisels, stains, dyes, oils, and waxes
Techniques / Processes
Sawing, turning, brushing, sanding, carving, staining, polishing
Members / Employees
Metka Zver
Education of the Craftsperson
Self-taught

Best-selling product
Hand-turned light
Average time of production
One workday (excluding preparation of the semi-finished product)
Average price per item
200 EUR

Metka Zver used to be a member of the 300 Wooden Bears cooperative, which she founded with several other fellow artisans who work with wood. They showed their work collectively at international fairs and the international platform Homo Faber.

With a diploma in art history, Metka Zver had a long and successful career in book marketing – up until eight years ago, when she realized she was stuck in a rut and decided that “it was high time to break the routine and try my hands at something completely different.” So she started working with her hands and turning wood, which eventually led her to launch her own brand – O2 Turning Wood. She describes wood as a soft, warm material that brings to mind happy memories, such as the time she spent restoring her grandfather’s tailoring table two decades ago. Metka is a self-taught woodturner. Her most helpful resources were YouTube videos through which experienced woodturning masters from across the globe share their advice. She also learned by watching local master artisans at work at their woodworking machines and at workshops organized by woodturner Stanislav Lamovšek. The first pieces she sold were small serial objects that required a lot of sanding and assembly, but later she focused exclusively on turning wood, as it gives her more room to express herself as an artist.

Several years ago she and her husband sold their house on the outskirts of Ljubljana and moved to Štanjel in the Karst, where they completely renovated an old stone house and settled into their new home.

During the week she works in a spacious workshop located in the barn of a homestead in the nearby village. She set up a gallery on the ground floor of the house, where she shows and sells her unique turned objects along with the work of other Slovenian artisans. This unique artisanal offer in the centre of the small village both attracts tourists and allows her to connect with like-minded local artisans, which she finds important. Metka is currently the only female woodturner in Slovenia. She finds inspiration in the work of world-acclaimed masters, including Plečnik. Her woodturning practice fuses skill with the quest for purpose and inspiration. Her motivation is creating a perfect piece that will be “so beautiful that I will know I haven’t wasted my life, just because I’ve created it”.

All her pieces are made of local wood that she buys from farmers, but in recent years it has come to her from the hands of her friends and acquaintances as well.

The winter is when she prepares semi-finished products, as many as she will finish in the course of the coming year. The first to touch the logs (as a rule hardwood) is her husband with his chainsaw. He begins by cutting them into equally wide and long pieces that he splits lengthwise and trims the edges. This is when Metka comes in and shapes the wood into a hemisphere with her woodworking machines. She mounts it on the lathe, making sure the mandrel is in the centre, and turns it halfway. At this stage, the rim of the bowl measures 10 percent of the starting perimeter. Half-finished products need from six months to a year to dry, sometimes longer. Once they are dry she turns the half-finished piece on the lathe. She carves using razor sharp chisels, as if she were cutting layers of wood. She says the wood determines the final shape itself, and this is half the job done. When she has finished turning she brushes the surface with an iron brush and sands it with sandpaper. Sometimes she changes the colour of the wood on the inside or the outside of the bowl by staining it. The wood absorbs the stain, leaving the growth ring structure clearly visible. When she feels inspired she sands the object again, carves it some more, or changes the wood texture with other tools. Finally, she applies oil and wax, and polishes the wood to a high-gloss finish. Objects of average size are completed within a day. She uses wood scraps for heating the workshop, whereas the shavings are composted and used by the local winemaker.

Metka Zver crafts large and small turned bowls, plates, vases, candlesticks, and pendant lights from locally sourced wood under her O2 Turning Wood brand. Her imagination finds new uses also for reclaimed wood.

In her workshop, old beams turn into wall décor, but the bulk of her work comes in the shape of bowls and pendant lights that are turned to just a few millimetres thick. Shaping her pieces she also develops her signature minimalist style, a play of colours and contrasts.