As boys growing up in New York’s Mohawk Valley, the twins hacked, gouged, and scraped without much success. “Dad sawed a burl off the side of a tree, and we hollowed it out with a chisel and hammer,” recalls Leslie, who, together with brother Leigh, filled the cavity with charcoal briquettes and fired it up. To keep the coals red hot, “We fanned them with a hair dryer,” he recalls, while cradling the creation scarred by fire, rugged chain-saw marks, and an old bullet hole. It’s the kind of bowl only a father could love (and to his credit, Ronald Keno did).
“We spent so many hours on that bowl,” says Leslie, who is shown here holding a better example as Leigh displays the bowl that the boys made—and turns thumbs-down on their creation. “Burl is harder to cut than marble. It’s tough, knotty, locked-together grain. It’s so tight that it can actually hold water. But that experience really made us appreciate burl at an early age.”