JP's News and Such:        

                                                                               "Chippin' Right Along"


2017 !!! ... getting older and uglier every day.

 It's been an interesting year so far. I've bartered for a few logs, bought others and finally got 7 Walnut Logs - the first I have ever been able to get of this size. One was 29 inches across the stump and is as dark as any I have ever seen. I have made several bowls out of this and am very pleased with the results.

  I was getting really excited about these and the bowls that are coming from them ... THEN ... I pulled something bad in my right shoulder while at my "day job" - Unifi, Inc., a textile manufacturer where I've worked for 44 years. I was totally out of commission for the better part of a month. This really hurts as it normally "prime time" - where I work 14 hour days 6 days a week making up all the wood that I bought since fall - trying to get it all made up before hot weather.

  Well - It won't happen this year. Always a piddler and trying to improve things that I make - I pulled out two tools I had my blacksmith "Don Dillon" - who died a few years ago make me for just such an emergency. The normal tool for bowl making is called  a  "hand-adze". They can be made in many shapes and styles, wide or narrow width with many contours to the ends for various situations. Well I had several special ones made - a couple that instead of being swung by hand (mounted on a handle similar to a hammer, etc...) these special ones were made to be driven with a mallet. I'll hold the adze with one hand - tap it with a mallet with the other hand. I had two others made on a metal shaft. they were really not completed, weren't very sharp or heat treated yet. I ground down the back of these - rounded the back ends so that I could place them in an air chisel (an air tool that resembled an air wrench that vibrates somewhat like the big "Jack  Hammers" you'll see folks using to dig into cement, etc), sharpened them, then heat treated as best I could. So I can cut out bowls by hand using an air chisel tool to drive the adze instead of my shoulder.

  This relieved my shoulder, and pretty much takes it out of the scenario, but is a very tedious tool to use as I can't "feel" the grain as well and you can easily dig to deep, too quick and go too deep into the bowl (don't ask me how I know) or can split the sides of a bowl if the grain makes a fast turn and I don't pickup on this and change my attack. THIS IS NOT AUTOMATING the making of a bowl. It is still all eye-hand co-ordination and is still a time consuming process but is a little faster that the wood handled adzes. The air-chisel can cut a little quicker but has to be really watched. By late June I am normally carving "wood-spirits" in walking sticks or making cutting boards, but it probably won't happen this year. The bowls ALWAYS come first ... that's what pays the bills, it's what I'm well know for, and one again I'll pay the price to keep all this beautiful wood from going bad. It would be a crime to allow all this walnut to end up as fire wood.

  I get emails and calls from folks that are wondering how my back is holding out (knowing that I had a major rebuild on April 1, 2014) ... well...

 My back is still doing well 3 years after my surgery although arthritis and severe degenerative spine disease are trying to make life a little unpleasant. I can't complain - I feel sooooooo much better than what I did before the operation in 2014. Dr. Wesley Hsu (pronounced "SUE") at the Clemmons, NC Spine Center, and the wonderful nurses at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem NC - have both had a huge part in changing my life forever. 

The latest addition to the family is "Buford K. Squirrel" most of his name coming from my favorite Classic Radio DJ - Buford Kegley at WBRF 98.1 in Galax Va. Buford (the DJ) is always upbeat, a lot of fun - and  is a one of a kind.  Buford the squirrel is inquisitive and is a lot of fun. I like coming home from work, going outside and calling "pet" squirrels down out of the trees they choose to live in and love playing with them. It just takes an investment of time and love and the results can be really good. I've always been a little nutty so I guess that's why I love taming them.



The link below is a short video of one of my pet squirrels. 

Lucky came back again and I shot another minute with him at:

or see my Granddaughter with him at 

  He is just one of many I have raised over the years - each one having their own personality and quirks that made them special. This one disappeared in the fall when nature decided it was time for him to run himself ragged chasing the ladies nesting all around the neighborhood. He came back in October but wasn't quite as tame as before. On this most recent visit I carried his favorite things to eat - salty potato chips and pecans, and soon had him eating from my hand. I didn't try to rub him as squirrels have a really nasty bite (don't ask me how I know) closely rivaling a skunk bite or that of a raccoon both of which I can tell you all about. I had a Skunk (Midnight) in 1978-79 and early 1980. She was de-scented and was comparable to a house cat with a possessive attitude. Over the years I've also had a crow, ground hog, possum (courtesy of my little brother Phil) 3 flying squirrels several Carolina Anole lizards and more grey squirrels than I can name.

  I think Lucky's "Luck" must have worn out as shortly after the last video was made I kept seeing a big hawk hanging around ... he finally quit hanging around and I haven't seen Lucky since. Oh well - I'll have that much more of a reason to get another in the spring. 


  BY THE WAY - I want to say THANK YOU to "Whoever" the first person was to put this picture on their Pintrest page !!! They were kind enough to give me and my website credit for it even adding a link to it directing them to the website. You will not believe the hits I have gotten due to this. This picture is the single most viewed picture on the whole website. It came from my "How They're Made Page" and shows you how I "lay out" the outside and bottom of every bowl I make. Regardless of their final shape - it all starts like this being drawn out to make sure that the bowl is symmetrical. Their kindness or curiosity is just one of the many reasons that this site is the "Most Viewed Site on the internet" for handmade wooden bowls. I really appreciate this.

 A lot of you have found my KitchenSticks to be a great tool, and a great low priced gift for anyone who spends much time in the kitchen! 

Several years ago a dear friend of mine that I love as a brother - tried to help me get a KitchenStick business up and going. We had the sticks made at a furniture business in Mebane, NC that has since closed. Back then I couldn't make them and chop out Dough-bowls too, and had no machinery other than a sander and a chop (miter) saw. I worked 14 hour days, 6 and 7 days a week on bowls alone so there was no time for the KitchenSticks.

 Well it didn't work out - we ended the KitchenSticks business and "my dear friend" wisely figured out that not only was he better off without the  KitchenStick business - but also better off without having anything to do with me too!  I guess the old saying of "don't go into business with friends or family" is just good sound advice. I hate that it went the way it did, I discouraged the business idea from day 1 but that's life, I guess.

 I have so many people wanting the sticks and believing that they make cooking easier for them and many with arthritis swearing that they help them - so I'll keep on making them here in the shop. I have bought all the machinery to help me make the KitchenSticks here, doing it all myself - starting out with a solid log, and ending with several boxes full of beautifully shaped and smoothly textured tools. I want more folks to enjoy them and as it has NEVER BEEN ABOUT MONEY with me - I don't mind making less on them, hoping to sell even more. If the truth be known, in my effort to help folks -  I've probably given away as many KitchenSticks over the years as I've sold.

The new prices I have on these ... A 2pak will sell for $5 - plus $3.50 shipping for orders east of the Mississippi.. and a 3pak for $7.50 with $4.00 for shipping. Any sale in North Carolina will also have to pay our sales tax. Shipping on larger orders is figured by weight. Any orders over 500 miles away will pay exactly what USPS charges me.

  I am still getting a lot of requests for bowls - even though I am no longer sending any thru the mail - selling whatever I do sell only at the NC State Fair.

There's an old saying that "all good things must come to an end", and so it did with my selling handmade dough-bowls on the internet. I have sent bowls all over the world, from a soldier in Bahrain to people in every state in the US except Hawaii (I'd have given someone in Hawaii a heck of a deal on a bowl !!!) ... all across Canada and Europe and many other countries.

  The writing was on the wall as soon as I was able to have major surgery on my spine in April of 2014. Dr. Hsu at the Clemmons Spine Center was very clear in saying that I had to slow down. He said I'm not Superman, I'm pushing 60 and needed to start acting like it - and "IF" I ever hope to be able to enjoy life - I'd better get started. He got me out of pain but my back is "JUNK". I've never been one to back off and give in to pain ... I worked through it for 38 years and on the day of the surgery I prayed as hard as I ever prayed in my life ... I said to God, "I have no brownie points and no chips to cash in... please either guide Dr. Hsu's hands to do whatever is needed to get me out of this pain or please do not let me wake up. I do not want to live another minute as I've had to live the past 38 years". 

 Well obviously I lived - The pain is far less and I thank God daily for this. I have been given a second chance on life and I ain't going to screw it up. I cannot make enough bowls for the world ... you continuously requested more and more until I couldn't make in a year what was regularly ordered in a few weeks ... selling 54 bowls on-line in a little over 2 hours and 20 minutes one Friday night a few years ago really opened my eyes as to how popular I had gotten. I had over 650 people on-line at one time trying to buy those 54 bowls.

  I thank you all ... from Paulette in Mississippi who bought 9 bowls ... Butch in Norlina who now has 11 and wanting more - to all of those who brought me to tears many times with the letters you sent after receiving one of my bowls.

 So many folks traveled long distances to buy my bowls at the NC State Fair over the years ... two different folks came from Los Angeles, some from Ohio, a mother and daughter made two trips from Minnesota, a family from Connecticut, a couple from Colorado and Utah ... Yvonne has made 8 trips now from Washington DC ... from there to Florida and many other states thrown in for good measure - I have been humbled by your desire to have one of my bowls.

Check back from time to time - I'll still have KitchenSticks for sale - email me with any questions you may have for taking care of an old bowl, etc ... and be sure to see my links page for others who may be able to get you the bowl you want. ...have a good 'un ... I intend to listen to Dr. Hsu and spend more time with my wife Nancy, more time spoiling my granddaughter Katie, exercising the fish at several lakes in the area I live and knocking down a few more deer this winter... Love you all ... JP

   David Weatherly from WGHP-TV in High Point NC came over and taped a segment of "Roy's Folks" - a human interest story which airs each afternoon on their 6 o'clock news ... This 2-3 minute segment shows some interesting person or event from across NC that has caught their eye. David is the producer and contacted me so that he could come a few weeks ago and  filmed a segment on my bowl making. You can see the link to it on my home page at the bottom of the page. I am amazed at the interest my bowls receive, and I feel he did a good interview. David called me just before my spine surgery wanting to come over but after hearing about all the health problems I was having at the time graciously said he'd wait until I was in better shape to come over. He noticed my "News Page" here recently where I was reporting how well I am doing so he figured I might be ready to be on his show. I was happy to oblige but hated for more folks to be exposed to my work and be disappointed when I don't have enough to sell them one.

 But A few minutes after it aired I got the following email ... please give it a good reading ...

God bless you sir!

  While watching Fox 8 news this afternoon, there was a brief clip of you making your bowls and your lovely grand-daughter faithfully by your side. Nothing, not one thing, has brought so much joy to my soul as to see a man with a craft; that turned into a talent, and now hopes to pass that blessing along with his prodigy!

  I haven’t priced any of your works of art yet, but, there will be a few wrapped in pretty foil for my people back in New Mexico around Christmas time. The beauty you capture in nature’s workings simply leaves me open mouthed and wanting more. I thank you for sharing your story with Fox 8. I thank you for having the talent to make enough for more than just your family to enjoy! I thank God I was able to see a man do what he liked, was good at, and could make many others happy while smiling himself.

Be blessed my brother, I surely am right now…

David ********

Patrick Springs, VA 

  Try if you will to imagine someone writing this to you - having something that you do regularly bring these feelings from someone who doesn't know you. ... it absolutely Awes Me ! God has blessed me with a talent that I have worked hard to maximize but it still humbles me to receive something such as the letter above.

   I take no credit for the beauty of my bowls. God alone makes this beauty.  I simply find it, and hopefully make the correct cuts in the making of the block that would become the bowl. Then I chip away keeping the desired finished shape in mind, and hopefully ending up with something pleasing to the eye that shows off the beauty that I pictured was there within the tree to begin with..

  just got a letter from a recent KitchenStick buyer and I thought you may like to hear what he had to say ..2"

James - FYI , the KitchenStick works well as a manual bread making machine. In my opinion, it does a better job mixing dough than my Danish dough whisk. And, once the dough has come together, I can continue to work the dough in the bowl - effectively kneading it without actually getting my hands into it.  That is something I have never been able to do well with the whisk. ... Regards.  jgm

Thanks John - I can always use a good word from a satisfied customer ...





   Anyone who knows me would tell you that I don't do well sitting around doing nothing. The picture above shows my latest artistic interest. I started using a walking stick many years ago anytime I am walking on uneven ground, and even on all my walks while at the NC State Fair. They add stability when trail walking or in my case "just walking thru the woods with Katie" (my Granddaughter). I got interested in "Wood Spirits" when I got to know Matt Wolfe -  the son of Tom Wolfe who is one of the best known carvers in the US. Matt gave me carving lessons every morning before the gates were opened at the 2008 NC State Fair and I have tried to build on what he taught me. Click on the picture to see more detail, and some browsers allow an extra click for extreme zoom in..  

   The on-line part started due to a dear friend that I love as a brother named Tom McGraw and his wife Tami of Chapel Hill, NC - two die hard "CarolinaTarheel " fans (no not really), I say that when kidding "Duke" fans. Their generosity helped me get this website started and I will always thank them for it. I still love Tom as I do my own brothers.


In 2012 & 2013 I really got to know these guys and Love them all. Pictured with me here is Larry Cordle, Jody King, Me, Don Rigsby and Mike Anglin. These guys sound absolutely great together and you can see and feel the love that they have for what they are doing in every performance. As soon as the Sunday night performance was thru, Don had to catch a plane to New York as he was playing Carnegie Hall Monday night with Alan Jackson and was also on the Dave Letterman show Tuesday  night. Great honors for a great musician. All of these guys are among the best you'll find.

The KitchenStick website is getting a bunch of hits - to see it click HERE !

  For those of you who have bought a KitchenStick or received one as a present ... write to me and tell me the way you use them and your thoughts about them. I want to start a page on here to show others who may be thinking about getting some how y'all feel about them. I know they're a great tool as I've been using one since 2000 when I invented the first one - but hearing from others is always good.

 Thank each and every one of you folks that have visited my website over the years who feel that the bowls I make - or my KitchenSticks are something of importance to you. Y'all buy up every bowl that I can make and are always contacting me wanting more, and recently the KitchenSticks continue to get some great reviews. My KitchenSticks are selling better as folks are seeing just how useful they really are. I stand by them and will give anyone who buys them their money back if they aren't completely satisfied with the KitchenStick and the many uses each one offers. If you'll use one for cooking just 3 meals you'll be wanting one in your hand every time you're in the kitchen. I make them all myself, going from the solid log to the finished KitchenStick here in my little shop and under the shelter beside the shop.

  And as  I have many times - I want to one again thank Tom and Tami McGraw of Chapel Hill, NC for their friendship in the past and for the faith that they had in me several years ago. I've loved Tom like a brother since the 80's and always will. Several years ago they sent me a check for $500 to buy whatever it would take to start-up this website. He believed I could make it in to something. I knew NOTHING at all about website design, and I'm sure you can easily tell by looking at it today that I still ain't got a clue. I bought Windows Front-page 2003 and spent 2 weeks literally working from 3-3:30am till midnight and sometimes later - trying to learn how to build it - taking pictures of bowls and learning to use photo editing programs. It was a long slow process but you folks made it the #1 site on the internet for "handmade wooden bowls" for many years. And I average around 80,000 hits a month.   

  I thank you all for all for your loyalty and for visiting my site as you do.  ...JP Madren.

     KitchenSticks - were the perfect low priced Christmas Gift !!!

  A bunch of folks said that my KitchenSticks were "the perfect Christmas gift for someone hard to buy for" and they backed up their comments by buying them for their family, friends, Sunday school class members and folks that they work with. They definitely make cooking a meal easier and this was said to me time after time as I dealt with folks wanting more of them for family and friends.