View ‘Collaborations With Wood’ at the Volcano Art Center

  • Courtesy of VOLCANO ART CENTER John Mydock embellishes a wooden platter with pyrography.

“The beauty of collaboration is that the total sum is greater than its individual parts.”

These are the words of Les Pedersen, one of the artists featured in “Collaborations with Wood” on display at the Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park through March 28 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Admission is free, but park entrance fees apply.


“Collaborations With Wood” features fine art creations by Pedersen and John Mydock. A variety of works on display includes hand-turned vessels, pyrography and “pearlizing.” The majority of the works are true collaboration pieces, created by both artists. In most cases the wooden vessels are hand tuned by Pedersen then highly decorated with the masterful illustrations of Mydock.

Viewers can easily get lost among these encircling illustrations, discovering intricate details and scenes that most minds can’t even imagine. Mydock and Pedersen also contributed individual works including turned vessels, some embellished and others not, pearlized pieces as well as oil and acrylic paintings.

Mydock, the legendary wood lathe artist, studied under master woodturners including Elmer Adams, David Marks, Mike Mahoney, Jimmy Clewes, Graeme Priddle and Jacques Vesery, who provided the skills necessary for turning exquisite vessels. Mydock is best known for his highly advanced process of embellishing lathe turned wooden vessels with either pyrography or pearlizing. Pyrography is the technique of burning images into wood.

He says his images “metaphorically shape-shift into birds, fish, tribal designs and vines representing the interconnectedness of all life here in Hawaii.”

The second and more complex process Mydock borrows from his past experiences as a motorcycle and hotrod painter. Pearlizing entails airbrushing multiple layers of high-quality catalyzed polyurethane, often gold leaf and fine pinstriping are embedded within more layers. Endless hours of sanding and buffing provide depth and a liquid, glass-like surface to these unique works.

During the 2018 Kilauea eruption, Mydock and his family evacuated their home and studio near Kahena and offered a prized professional lathe to fellow Big Island woodturner Pedersen, who became the proud owner. Pedersen, who spent a long career in construction management, has always appreciated art but didn’t consider himself an artist until others began calling him one, much to his surprise.

During a following Big Island Woodturners meeting, Pedersen recalls Mydock bringing a variety of roughed out turnings with the offer “if anyone wants to complete them, I’ll embellish them with my pyrography, and we’ll have a collaboration.”

“Thirty some odd collaborations later, we are proud to share our art here at the Volcano Art Center,” Pedersen said.


Don’t miss this exquisite collaboration. The entire collection is available for viewing and purchase at, as well as in person under social distancing and COVID-19 safely protocol.

For more information, contact the VAC Gallery at 967-8222 or

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