Seri Robinson is the National Speaker for the October meeting of RWS. Seri will give a talk on their work on Friday evening and give a demonstration workshop on Saturday.

Dr. Seri Robinson

Note: Seri Robinson identifies as gender non-binary. Therefore, the pronouns they, them and theirs are used within the bio and description below. The August, 2019 newsletter also includes a letter from Jim MaKinster, our National Speaker Chair, which attempts to explain non-binary and gender diverse identities in a little more detail.

Seri Robinson is a professor of wood anatomy at Oregon State University and a bio artist. Their work blurs the lines between science and art as they focus on the ways in which fungi in wood and natural decay create aesthetic opportunities. They describe their work as follows:

Unlike many artists who utilize scientific techniques to develop their art, I strive to maintain a balance of both fields in my work. I strive to not be ‘just’ an artist or ‘just’ a scientist, but to blur the line between the two disciplines. Neither science nor art can exist without the other, and it is important to communicate that to viewers.

Seri’s current work involves the development of colored pigments on wood by mold fungi. As molds are “some of the most reviled fungi in the world, their use in functional art is controversial and challenges our core assumptions on toxicity, functionality, and understanding of the natural world.”

On Friday evening, Seri will present their talk entitled “What is Spalted Wood?”. Audience members will take a journey into the history, science, and modern art of spalted wood. Seri will examine the prevalence of spalted wood in historic European marquetry and follow its evolution into the United States and woodturning culture. They will also present a primer on DIY spalting, talk a bit about working with spalted wood, and explore the fungi responsible for this unique material.

Seri’s workshop on Saturday morning, Oct 19th, will be in the conference room at Isaac Heating & Cooling: 50 Holleder Parkway, Rochester, NY 14615. The workshop will start precisely at 9:00 am and run until at least 4:00.
Seri will teach you everything you need to know to machine and turn spalted wood. In addition, they will unravel some of the myths that have been around involving spalting. Seri will demonstrate how to grow a specific fungus of your liking on wood as well as how to color within the zone lines with actual pigment extracted from spalted wood.
We will also open up a tub of wood that has been exposed to two different types of fungus, that has been sealed for 3 months. Seri will explain what is happening to the wood.

If you like to turn spalted wood or make furniture or accessories out of this decaying wood, this workshop will answer all your questions.

Here is a rough outline how the day will be spent:

9am – 10am – how fungi rots wood, mounting spalted wood on the lathe, roughing it out

10am – 12:00 – turning shallow form spalted wood. Finishing cuts, bowl gouges, introduction to fungal dyes and how they work

1:00 – 2:30 – turning deeper forms, hollowing spalted wood, using skew chisels & scrapers

2:30-3:30 – flatwork with spalted wood: machining, planing, sanding etc.

3:30 – 4:00 – using fungal dyes for faster, non-decay spalting

Questions & Answers throughout

Lunch can be purchased at the door in the morning of the workshop (subs or pizza) for $10 or you can bring your own lunch.

The cost of this workshop is $55 (First year RWS membership free with registration for a national speaker workshop).

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More information about Seri and their work can be found on their website:


Non-members are welcome to attend monthly meetings free of charge. Non-members receive a free membership when they register for their first workshop.

Our Friday meetings and lectures begin at 7:45 in Basil Hall on the St. John Fisher College campus. More information about the location of our meetings and directions are available here.

More general information about the nature and format of our meetings and lectures is available here.