A lot of people and machines make round wooden bowls, but Moulthrop’s bowls are special. All are made from native southeastern woods. He says it is “against his religion” to use imported woods. The bowls begin as a section of fresh-cut tree trunk. After roughing out the basic shape from a selected tree-trunk section, the wood is steeped in a chemical solution which arrests shrinkage and prevents cracks, enabling Moulthrop to produce very large bowls, much bigger than those made by most woodturners.
Then he refines them on a lathe of his own design and construction, using cutting tools which he blacksmiths, tempers and refines himself, another craft in which Moulthrop takes pride.
It isn’t just the size of Moulthrop’s bowls which makes them unusual. He often makes small bowls which are equally beautiful. It is his sensitive artist’s eye for figures in the wood grain, relationships of proportions of design, subtle curvature of shape, quality of surface, and the color of the finished wood that makes a bowl by Moulthrop a work of art. When you see his bowl you know you’re not looking at just another receptacle for fruit salad.
Both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art have four bowls in their collections. Various other Museums include his work in their collections, including the High Museum of Art, The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian and the American Craft Museum.
Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he studied architecture at Princeton, and came to Atlanta to teach architecture at Georgia Tech from 1941 to 1949. He was a practicing architect until 1974, during which time he energetically pursued his hobby of woodturning, then resigned to devote full-time to woodturning.