Howard is a computer programmer by career, but his creative passion is woodturning to create forms that are pleasing and shapes that call out to be held. In a world dominated by sight and sound, the sense of touch is under-developed. Whether the piece is functional or artistic, Howard tries to make a form that pleases the hand as well as the eye.
The woods Howard turns are from deciduous trees and include maple, white oak, madrone and black walnut, and burl (the rootball of the tree). It is not known why burls grow on the trunk but some think it's in response to stress of some kind, disease, or bug attacks, but the results of turning the burls are spectacular.
Some of Howard's pieces are from spalted wood. Spalting is the first step in the rotting process, when wood lays on the damp ground and bacteria and fungi start to digest it. If the rotting process continues too far, the wood is punky and too soft to turn.