Turning Archive 2006

Woodturning can compete

>A few months ago we discussed whether or not a turned wood piece could compete with other mediums in mixed medium shows. I had never seen but two turned wood pieces take a first place or Best of Show in a mixed medium event. Every time I have seen a woodturning make it to the top I have been proud, no matter who turned it. Many of us are trying to push the envelope and move woodturning up the latter. Last night I attended my first artists' reception. I can honestly say that if any of you had claimed the Best of Show prize that I would have been equally proud just to say a turned wood piece made it to the top; but what I want to say is this: I did not get there by myself. I want to thank 2 people who put me there:
Malcomb Ray who encouraged me to try hollow forms. When I met Mac I only turned bowls because I could turn them fast and they sold easily for $100 to $250 each. I could not see how I could ever turn a hollow form fast enough to be profitable. Mac came down and we did a collaborative piece from a scrap of wood that we picked up under my sawmill shed. It lay on the bench, unfinished, for a year or more. A buyer came in and liked it and wanted to buy it after it was finished. I sold my first hollow form, things were moving.
Then Russ Fairfield came and did a demo for our club and hung around a couple of days afterward and we put a burl on my VB and played a while. Russ showed me how to use dyes to pop the grain. I made and sold several pieces that were dyed as Russ instructed me and they brought good money. Now with those two things, or those two people, I began my yearly attempt to make my best piece ever. I hollowed a large burl using skills I learned from Mac. Then dyed it using techniques I learned from Russ; but it did not end there. I had dyed it blue and after finishing the piece I decided that blue was not the best color so I stripped it as well as I could and dyed it red. Some of the blue dye was still in the wood and it bled back through the red and gave me the multi-colored piece that some of you saw at the Gathering in April. I spent the next 6 months trying to repeat what I had done accidently and each time when I added the red over the blue I got purple, not the multi-color that I was trying for. Eventually I found a way to control the mix and get the multi-color that I wanted. The pay-off came this week for me and I want to encourage each of you to keep trying new things and I hope the pay-off comes to each of you who seek it. A little side note: Thursday morning as I headed to town to get some building materials, just after daylight, I rounded a curve about 3 miles from my shop and I saw the most spectacular rainbow I had ever seen. The ends of it touched the top of the autumn colored trees and one end appeared to be near my new showrom/shop/ gallery. I came back home a couple hours later and half jokingly told my carpenter that I had seen a rainbow and one end of it was over my shop and I said "maybe that means I will win a cash prize with my piece that I had entered at the gallery show". The next day I got the call that my piece had won "Best of Show". And I thought the old pot gold thing at the end of a rainbow was a fairy tale. In closing this essay I would like to thank all on this site as many of you have helped me to learn new things and I can honestly say that this group has done far more to help me reach new levels than any mag, club, or anything else.
Thanks all!

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