Rod Townsend


Artist Bio:

Rod Townsend is a native of England, but has lived in Des Moines since the 1980's. Retirement afforded him the time to develop the techniques for making his unique Xylem Vessels based on self taught skills as an amateur furniture maker and an interest in modern ceramics.  Each Xylem Vessel is  constructed from sheets of thinly cut wood veneers and finished to bring out the beauty of the natural  grain patterns. He often combines modified marquetry techniques with the application of dyes to produce vessels with striking patterns and vibrant colors that are functional containers as well as decorative abstract art objects. He cites his experience as a biological scientist for the observation and analysis of natural forms and patterns that are the inspiration for much of  his work. 

Artist Statement   Xylem Vessels

Xylem vessels are unique craft pieces constructed from exotic wood veneers finished in natural colors or enhanced with colorful wood dyes.  They are designed as ornaments, but look great with dried flowers and since they are waterproof, can even be used to display fresh cut flowers.

As a biologist, I have always been fascinated by the diversity of shapes and colors to be found in the natural world.  I find inspiration in huge tropical leaves, brilliantly colored flowers, strange shaped seed pods, seashells and even ripples in the sand.  Xylem vessels are my attempt to capture a little of that diversity and beauty in simple, yet elegant wooden forms.  Each design is unique and copyrighted.

Xylem Vessels draw heavily on my experience as an amateur furniture maker.  It has taken many experiments and modifications to perfect the technique for making these vessels to the point where I am satisfied with the quality of the finished pieces.  Furthermore, working with veneers rather than solid wood offers a more sustainable way to enjoy the beauty of domestic and tropical hardwoods. 

Many veneers are so beautiful, they just have to be finished in their natural colors.  Others can be enhanced by careful staining with vibrant wood dyes.  The most complicated Xylem Vessels are made from multiple pieces of interlocking and individually stained pieces of veneer.

Why Xylem Vessels?  The xylem vessels are the elongated cells that transport water from the roots to the very tops of tall trees.  It just seemed such a fitting name.

I hope you enjoy owning aXylem Vessel as much as I enjoyed designing and making it.



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