Edward Moulthrop 1916–2003

An architect and accomplished professor, Ed Moulthrop is considered by many to be the father of modern American wood-turning. Prior to embarking on a career as a woodturner he studied drawing and watercolor painting, earned degrees in architecture at Case Western Reserve University in 1939 and Princeton University in 1941, taught at the Georgia Institute of Technology for five years, and served as the chief designer for Robert and Company. Many of his designs can still be found throughout the U.S. and he was the recipient of numerous awards, including two medals from the American Institute of Architects (1978, 1980) and the Georgia Governor's Award in the Arts (1981).

Moulthrop’s interest in wood-turning began at a young age. He purchased his first lathe from Popular Mechanics magazine at fifteen and continued wood-turning as a hobby into his adulthood. His hobby blossomed into a career in the 1960s when he met Blanche Reeves through his circle of architect and designer friends. Reeves owned the Signature Shop and Gallery—the first craft gallery in Atlanta—where she began to show Moulthrop’s work. Thanks to her support, Moulthrop developed relationships with gallerists across the country and his glossy, modern vessels were eagerly snapped up by adoring collectors.

He brought to the contemporary craft movement a passion for the material and an artist’s eye, adept at harmonizing form, color, and line to showcase the personality of each piece of wood. Moulthrop not only breathed life into the genre, he invented and forged many of the tools which allowed him to graduate from small pieces to large and technically difficult ones. His deceivingly simple creations belie the labor-intensive process necessary to make them and are the result of his innate ability to see the latent vessel in a discarded piece of wood.

Moulthrop’s vessels can be found in over fifty personal, corporate, institutional, and permanent museum collections worldwide, including those of President Jimmy Carter, Steven Spielberg, the White House Collection of American Crafts, Coca Cola Co. World Headquarters, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His legacy lives on in the work of his son, Philip, and grandson, Matt, both of whom are world-renowned woodturners.

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