Turning Archive 2006

Keith's words of wisdom

Mike Schwing from Md.
>Our moderator and (many of our) email mentor Keith repeats a piece of advice every now and then that has become a mantra of sorts for me, and I have included it in my list of New Year's resolutions.

To paraphrase: "Better to produce one truly wonderful piece of work per year than lots of mediocre ones."

I think this might be the best piece of advice for an experienced woodturner that I have ever heard. Not so much for the new-ish turner who needs to turn lots and lots to learn the valuable skills, but as he improves, it is a concept worth pursuing.

How many of us rush to get something finished so we can post a picture of it, when a few hours more on the finish, sanding, decorating, buffing, etc.. would have taken the piece from nice to "outstanding"? (I'm guilty). How many of us see defects in our own work but hope no one else will, or that the photo will hide them? (I'm guilty). How many of us want to satisfy gallery requirements and just "get things out the door"? (guilty here, too).

I just spent at least a dozen hours re-doing something that I had already finished and shown to my club. It was a large bowl with a pattern pyrographed into it. I thought it was "nice" but I was not thrilled, and Mrs. Schwingydingdingaling thought it was "neat", but she didn't give it a WOW. The club members thought it looked much better from the back of the room than up close. I decided to spend whatever time was necessary to make it remarkable, and it now is remarkable. It got a "I LOVE THAT!" from Mrs. Ding last night when it re-emerged, and I have to say, it is now worthy of my best work. But DAMN it took a long time to get there. I hope my club feels the change was noticeable and worth it at our next meeting. I really disliked spending so much time, probably all totalled 20 hours on one bowl, but I believe it was worth it. I'll post a pic of the before/after soon.

It is a huge eye opener to realize how much work goes into those truly wonderful pieces of work, the ones that get juried into shows and win competitions. The initial realization is often one that results in a very caustic reaction at the prospect of spending so much time on an individual piece, but that is exactly what makes them so unique - the turner/artist/whatever has made that realization and accepts it as required.

I resolve to apply as much diligence to all of my work this year.

Keith, thanks for the mantra.

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