If you live in the Bay Area and like to attend craft shows then you are very aware of whom Dale Chase is. Even though he was not a practicing Jew he died on Shabbat during this past Yom Kippur. 9 months ago he came down with a rare strain of cancer and knowing that his days were numbered he wrote his own obituary:
Morton "Dale" Chase
Morton "Dale" Chase Dale was born in 1934, spending his first 11 years in Michigan. His family moved to the SF Bay Area where he graduated from Richmond Union High in 1952. He graduated from UC Berkeley in zoology and UC Medical School, both with honors. He served surgical internship and residencies and a fellowship in vascular surgery, as well as two years as a surgeon in the Air Force. He practiced vascular surgery and non-invasive diagnosis of vascular disease for 32 years before retiring. He had boards in surgery, and was a Fellow of the American Collage of Surgeons, and the Society for vascular Surgery. He married Charlene, his beloved wife of 35 years, after four years of practice in the Bay Area and they spent the next 20 years in vascular practice in Chico, CA. Dale is survived by Charlene; his son John, and his sister Phyliss, both of the East Coast. Upon retirement they moved to Lake Wildwood. Dale switched his attention to his 20 year interest in box making and ornamental turning. This work grew from a hobby to a profession, selling his fine boxes in several galleries as well as at shows. The boxes are in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, L.A. County Museum of Art, The Honolulu Museum of Art, the Yale University Museum of Art and several others, as well as in the personal collections on all continents. Last year he exhibited at Philadelphia museum of Art Show and won Best Woodwork of show at the Sausalito Art Festival. Dale enjoyed skiing, travel, art and music, and his box making passion. A private memorial service was held. Contributions may be made to the Interfaith Food Ministry, 551 Whiting St., Grass Valley, CA 95945, (530) 273-8132. Arrangements are under the direction of Chapel of the Angels Mortuary, 250 Race St., Grass Valley, CA 95945, (530) 273-2446. Published in the San Francisco Chronicle on 9/27/2007.
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Here are some pictures of his beautiful boxes and his website to view while it lasts.
From Dale's site:
Evolution of Ornamented Boxmaking: Fine Boxes have intrigued me long before starting to make turned wood containers in 1973. After turning the first several wood boxes, I realized that they lacked something(s) which would make them attractive, balanced, ergonomic and worthy. There was little written about elements of fine boxes, so I began to study boxes in many media (wood, ceramic, metal, lacquer, glass and metal)-asking what made them desirable and even precious. In museums, I could only look from afar, or study photos. I went to craft shows examining many and buying a few boxes, and attended wood turning conferences where turners demonstrated.
I began turning cylindrical boxes seriously nights and weekends, gradually developing a sense of scale of top to bottom, wall thickness, smooth fit of top to bottom and surface finish. Early boxes were more a medium upon which to apply ornamentation, with a newly acquired Holtzapffel Ornamental Turning Lathe. Boxes with spirals, wavy lines, and indexed patterns sold well in galleries, and soon to Japanese buyers as Tea Caddies and Incense Boxes (Natsume and Kogo).
In the 1980s, I developed techniques for internal ornamentation, in which the ornament was concave. After studying these cylindrical boxes, I finally realized that the exterior didn’t relate to the interior. Wanting to have congruity between the inner and outer surfaces, I began turning shapes externally, which eventually led to the “creampuff” shaped boxes. As the shapes improved and evolved, buyers began to comment that the boxes were “sensuous” to hold. They would rub and perhaps caress their box and then marvel at the surprise of opening to see the sunburst inside. The internally Rose Engine ornamented creampuff box became my signature.
For several years, I worked on the shapes, while improving the internal ornament. The more that angularity was removed from what were the former corners, the more natural and pleasant the boxes felt. There was no single “formula” for wall thickness, ratio of top to bottom height, or of diameter to height. Trying to design boxes “by the numbers” was not successful. Each design called for a different scale.