Turning Archive 2007

Subject:
Pushing you own limits *PIC*

steve antonucci
>I think that there is an evolutionary process that almost all woodturners go through during their lifetime, and I though it made sense to define my experience as a woodturner.

In the begining, we are happy if what we are making can come off of the lathe in a single piece, regardless of shape, form or composition. "Finish" work takes very little time.

At some point, we typically become aware of "better" work in one of two ways- finish or form, but almost never both at the same time. We either make finely crafted dog dishes and UFO's, or poorly finished more refined forms. In most cases with the people I've met, form follows finishing skills much later. I think this is because it's much less expensiveand easy to buy a few tools and learn how to use them than it is to study "art" and learn good form.

Once we've made good shavings and shapes, we start to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones. We turn thinner. We turn through smaller holes. We turn more complex shapes. We augment our work with burning, color, inlay, carving and a myriad of other methods because WE MISS THE CHALLENGE. If you've turned as many things as I have (or more) over the last 10 years, it gets kind of boring to constantly produce the same bowl or hollowform over and over again.

So we work on refining our technical skills to become more and better at what we do, and eventually, we can achieve more and better. I remember when I was proud of hollowforms with a 1" opening and 1/4" wall thickness- now they feel like bowling balls to me.

What happens when you can turn any shape with relative ease? You are forced to find your own voice- or be relegated to the eternal damnation of "production work" until you do.

Below I've attached a shot of my latest "failure". It started with a 2" longer neck and I hollowed it through a 1/2" hole. When I lost the neck, I cut it down to the shape you see here. I probably had 5 minutes left to remove the thickness from the bottom when I felt the 1/8" thick section in the neck. Since the rest of the form is 1/16" thick, it would have placed too much weight in the top of the vessel. I decided to take one more cut, and brought the wall thickness down to zero in a microsecond.

When I was a "younger turner", I would have curse and stomped around the shop for an hour. I had at least 4 days in this pot, off and on. I used to try to figure out how to save them- CA glue, cutting tops down to make bowls... As I "matured", I saved them for experimenting with burning, color, etc- but eventually they would end up in the fireplace.

Nowadays, I will most likely leave it in plain sight of the lathe for a day or two, before smashing it with a hammer to "move on". I don't really get mad like I used to (ok, a little bit on this one...), and I try to learn from every failure. Lesson on this one is simple- measure, measure, measure! when you're down under 1/8"

Still looking for my voice, though.

Steven

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