Turning Archive 2005

NWA showcase

Keith Tompkins
>I just returned from the Northeastern Woodworkers Showcase in Saratoga,NY. This show includes turning, but all types of woodworking are represented. Ellis is usually one of the judges in the competition, but wasn't able to make it this year. I'll try to post some photos of some outstanding work from time to time.(a carving that won the World bird carving competition for example). It is really a great show.

Some thoughts: I did two demos,the topic was designing and turning a goblet. I gave out 70 packets of printed material on the subject.

Before the demo, I gave a brief survey....how many turners in attendance approached the lathe with a concrete idea or plan in mind? The total: 2! How many had heard of using the "golden rectangle"(or other methods) as a design guide?: 0.

After the demo, which showed some design ideas and how they could be used in turning a goblet, many in the audience said they were going to pay more attention to design...the ideas were well received.

Driving home, I couldn't help but wonder...What is the HUGE resistance to design concept in the field of woodturning? I can't think of another art form or craft that operates in this manner. I have taken courses on pottery and other crafts, where the emphasis is ALL on form. Even Bookbinding! Yet, almost every turner I talk to has been instructed to " let the wood talk to you".

I know I have raised this subject before, but somebody please help me out here. I just don't get it. If I have six(my usual amount)students in a class, and instruct them to "let the wood....you know the rest" they would spent two days on the lathe and not learn a thing.

What is fueling this "mystique" method of teaching in turning? I would appreciate your comments please! Ps, check out Mark Stifiri's article in the recent Turning Points magazine.

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