Klassen featured Town artist

Farragut wood turner Robert Klassen highlights one of his pieces being displayed as part of Farragut Arts Council Featured Artist program for May and June. His works are being displayed in a special glass case on the second floor of Farragut Town Hall.
What started out as just a retirement hobby for Farragut wood turner Robert Klassen evolved into an art form.

Klassen takes wood and creates bowls, vases, boxes and decorative ornaments in a variety of colors and grains.

Farragut Arts Council presents Klassen as the featured artist for May and June. His work is being shown in Farragut Town Hall.

The artist, a retired engineer, decided to take up turned wood as a way to stay active.

“I was approaching retirement and I have to stay active,” Klassen said. “I was at a friend’s house in Cookeville one time, and he turned a piece [of wood], and I thought to myself, ‘I know I can do that.’ So, the next day I bought a machine.”

He turned wood on that machine for about two years.

“What I learned from that machine was the features I wanted in a bigger, better machine, which is what I turn on today,” he said. “It has kept me occupied.”

To enhance his skills, Klassen studies with instructors at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg. He shows his works at craft shows and is an officer with Foothills Craft Guild, the oldest such guild in East Tennessee.

He is mentoring a couple of students.

“I just enjoy the process,” Klassen said about wood turning. “I really love doing it and creating something out of a piece of wood that would have ended up in a landfill. I give [the wood] a second life.

“I could just spend all day alone out in my shop,” he added. Klassen showed a small covered box and said, “That probably took all day to make.”

Klassen started with bowls then graduated to producing boxes, platters, small ornaments and hollow forms.

One of his favorite types of wood is Australian burl wood.

“It doesn’t have a distinct grain pattern. I often end up producing a piece that is far more attractive,” Klassen said.

In the early years, Klassen made furniture, but once he started turning wood, he dropped furniture making, he added.

Each month, the work of an artist or group of artists is featured in specially designed cases on the second floor of the rotunda in Farragut Town Hall. For more information about this exhibit or to access a Featured Artist of the Month application, contact Lauren Cox at lcox@townoffarragut.org, 865-218-3372 or visit townoffarragut.org/artsandculture. Town Hall, 11408 Municipal Center Drive. is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.