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About Knotty Woods Alaska

About the  Artist – John Unruh

I have worked with wood since I was big enough to hold a saw and hammer. I grew up in a creative, artistic environment, which gave me a strong sense of creativity in a variety of media.  My father was an opthamologist but painted in oils his entire life.  My mother was a fabulous seamstress and used her creativity in making quilts, needlework, sweaters and dresses for me and my four sisters.    

I moved to Alaska in 1975 and have lived throughout the state. Our home and shop are located on 17 acres in the boreal forest of interior Alaska near the community of Two Rivers. It’s about 25 miles/40kms outside of Fairbanks.  Alaska’s beauty provides wonderful opportunities to share that beauty with you through my artistic woodart.


I use primarily Alaska Birch to create my art which is functional while also beautiful.  Occasionally I find suitable pieces of Quaking Aspen, Diamond Willow, Balsam Poplar, White Spruce and even Chokecherry. Each piece is unique because of the natural shading and grain of the wood. My functional works of art may include accent colors or artistic markings that enhance the natural beauty of the wood.  Unless the wood has structural cracks, I don’t try to hide them.  Wood is a natural product so the minor cracks or grain alterations give it character and enhance its beauty.  


As a life-long lover of wood and trees, I find inspiration for my pieces in all forms of art. My wife, Alica, is a major source of inspiration for design and she provides valuable critique and support.


Art Galleries

See our hand made Alaskan Wooden Bowls and Artwork at these Galleries and Gift Shops

Two Street Gallery

535 Second Avenue, Suite 102
Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks Arts Association
Bear Gallery

Alaska Centennial Center
for the Arts
Pioneer Park, 2300 Airport Way,
Fairbanks, Alaska

Turnagain Gallery

29859 Seward Hwy,
Anchorage, Alaska

Our Process

Turning Wood into Functional Art

Our Process 

People often ask me how I find wood and if it’s from a sustainable forest.  We live in a heavily forested region of Alaska and this includes our own property of just over 17 acres/6.92 hectares.  I never cut down a healthy living tree, so I literally check our land and surround region looking for trees that are in process of dying or have blown down.  Our forests are extremely important to us and the moose, fox, ravens, woodpeckers and many other small creatures that live with us.  As I select the wood, I have to be sure it is solid.  I then rough turn it on the lathe and put it in a drying box for several weeks or even two or three months.  Only when it is dry do I put it on the lathe for finishing.

From Forest to Functional Art

Our Products

About our Products

I strive to make each piece a work of functional art.  A salad bowl, party bowl or smaller bowl such as a candy or nut dish make fine containers for food items but I also want it to be distinctive.  No two pieces are the same.  The wood has different shading so it accepts stains and food-safe oils differently.  I do the very best I can to make your piece attractive, unique and, of course, functional.