John Capanna

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Creative Expressions in Wood

John Capanna is an artisan living in the Pocono Mountains, PA. After years of working with wood he embarked upon a journey that included a course with master furniture maker JD Lohr in Schwenksville, PA, two master woodcarvers, Native American woodcarver Russell Beebe in Talent, Oregon, Russian woodcarver Leonid Zakurdayev in Philadelphia, PA and visiting a burl yard in Kerby, Oregon to observe their craft, John took that experience and made it his own. The result is a very personal and intimate collaboration between artist and nature. “I try to keep all my work as organic and natural as possible. If you over work a piece of wood, it tends to lose its inherent natural beauty.” His enthusiasm for wood working began as a young man and has grown into a passion that he credits with helping to save his sanity, if not his life. Burned over 90% of his body in an industrial accident in 1979 his life has been a journey of self discovery and recovery. His art has become a vehicle not only for his own healing but as a means to help others.

He is currently writing his first book “Beyond Recognition: An Intimate View of a Burn Survivors Life and Recovery.” He also has a blog at which features bits and pieces from his book and personal experience and is now adding stories from other burn survivors. His story is featured in the soon to be released documentary, “Trial By Fire: Lives Reforged,” which also features burn survivor and Iraq war veteran JR Martinez of All My Children and Dancing With The Stars, along with several burn survivors. Johns’ work and story have appeared in Woodcarvers Magazine (Spring 2012), The Milford Journal, Pocono Record, Mail Tribune (Ashland, Oregon) and the Ashland Tidings (Ashland, Oregon). John is an active member of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and the S.O.A.R burn support group at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Allentown, PA. He and his wife Sonya enjoy nature and the beauty of the Pocono Mountains. He has 4 children and one grandson. He recently spent a weekend along with several other students with master wood turner David Ellsworth at Ellsworths studio in Quakertown, PA. John continues to learn and broaden his horizons, while enjoying the creative process and its results. You may contact him at

To see more of John’s work, please visit his website at


One thought on “John Capanna

  1. How fantastic that John has come so far. With all he has been through, it is amazing ! He has beyond persevered. I once burned one finger in grease and the pain was horrible. John’s pain ….I cannot even imagine. Good luck to him.


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