JUNE 7 , 2016

Turning Around America will now be just me. I will continue empowering people through hand making and Jenn will do her art projects with ,Sanctuary. You can follow her on her Word Press Blog , Jenn Moller-Unbidden.

I am On the road again! I finished my residency at The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship. It was a wonderful experience and I really developed a great sounding instrument. My new Turning Around America Project will be about ,Tuning Around America. The goal will be to teach hand making through simple stringed instruments. I purchased a new van in April and have already renovated it. I am on my way to Atlanta to teach how to make instruments with the lathe. I just completed the second night of my maiden voyage and it was great!. The new van is bigger and more organized, experience helped me create a better design. Here are some pictures.

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New next to old

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Interior

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made these vents for the windows

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view from my bedroom this morning

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first thing I saw when leaving van

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My new instruments

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APRIL 23, 2016

I have been spending the last couple of weeks working through prototypes of 3 and 6 string strum stick designs. I am getting closer and closer to, The One! I have also been completing some commissions, newel posts with twists and carved caps. The Instrument exploration has officially now become a passion. I am excited about the opportunity to start teaching it this spring and summer at Snow Farm and at Peters Valley Craft School. I see the potential to reach people through the creation of an instrument. I guess the whistle project was the beginning of that.

Here is what I have been working on :

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MARCH 27, 2016

This has been a very interesting winter for me. I have been in Maine at The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship teaching wood turning, carving, and box making, but mostly working on musical instruments. I started this exploration over a year ago. Inspired by The video of the Children’s Orchestra of Paraguay I started making instruments during a residency I did at Merrimack high, in Merrimack New Hampshire, and continued for 5 months during a Windgate Residency at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I have made at least 60 instruments so far. When I began I wanted to only make stringed instruments from found objects and scrap wood. During my recent exploration of the stick dulcimer I have purchased materials as well as utilizing scrap. I feel like my time here this winter has been a trip down the rabbit hole. I have learned bending techniques, and been inspired by wonderful colleagues like Yuri Kobayashi, Bruce Beacon, Asher Dunn and Brian McAlpine. The CFC has provided us with an amazing studio and I have been working night and day. I will be teaching stringed instrument making at 2 venues this spring and summer-May 16-20 at Snow Farm in Western Mass, and the end of July with my friend Peter Park at Peters Valley Craft Center in Layton New Jersey. I am really interested in the sculptural and kinetic nature of instrument making. I am really excited to have the opportunity to share what I have learned. Here are some pictures of work I have been doing the last 3 months.

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new 6 string guitar in progress

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Mandolin Case in Progress

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Twist turnings

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Turned Mandolin

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February 28, 2016

Last weekend I taught a wonderful group of adults at The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship how to make bandsaw boxes. It was really fun. With a little instruction the students were able to come up with some wonderful designs.  Here are some pictures.

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FEBRUARY 15, 2016

On Wednesday I taught a group of 8th grade math students how to use geometry in turning. I introduced turning and they all made 5 cylinders. This was to get them used to the idea of putting things on and off the lathe and using the tool rest as a straight edge guide. Then all the students marked the end of wood cylinders, offset, so that everyone could turn an ellipse.  Once that was accomplished we marked the ends of another cylinder and made triangles. The kids were great! Just so they could have a functional item to take home we made the ellipses into whistles. Here are some pictures.

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DECEMBER 26, 2015

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Time is racing by as usual. Since my adventures in Philly I have visited the Tierney Learning Center to conduct an after school whistle making session. The program I visited is run by Claire Kaiser, a City Corp volunteer who is doing a smashing job. Working with kids from the time school ends till their parents are done with work is daunting. The kids clearly love Claire and are lucky to have someone like her as a role model and touchstone in their days. We need more people helping to channel the after school energy in positive ways.

Last week I made a Strum stick with Venera Gattonini in my Roslindale shop. She is the Woodshop teacher at New Market Middle School in New Hampshire. I have been lucky enough to visit her program several times. I taught her to make a strum stick in hopes that it will get filtered into the curriculum. Stringed instruments are the perfect project to fulfill the STEAM requirements at some schools. STEAM stands for –science, technology, engineering, art, math. I have started teaching this at several Art Centers. This summer I will be teaching simple stringed instrument making at Peters Valley Craft Center and Snow Farm. Any of you teachers out there looking for a new STEM or STEAM project, please join me this summer.

Last Week I was a guest Critic at my beloved Mass Art. I got to spend the day looking at the final projects of students in the sculpture department. My surprise was that one of the students was Katelyn Ming. Katelyn was one of my great students at SUNY Purchase where I taught for a semester in 2012. She transferred to Mass Art after I left Purchase, and boy has she been busy. She showed us her new work containing, blown glass, welding, metal casting and of course woodturning. I was very impressed and so glad to see where she is taking her work.

Last week I completed 2 large columns just in time, I leave tomorrow for The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship. Here are some pictures.

 

 

 

 

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NOVEMBER 19, 2015

On Saturday I participated in an event at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia sponsored by Craft Now. I was representing The Center For Art In Wood. We did a whistle making project. I had the best team ever. Suzanne and Jeff Kahn, Tom Sloan, Frank Nowak and Ethan from University of the Arts. Having this many wonderful volunteers’ allowed us to make over 150 whistles, between 11:00 and 4:00. It was non stop action and a lot of fun was had by all. I always find that it is difficult to get volunteer’s. I think people think they need to be an expert, or else they feel they do not know how to teach. The team helping me on Saturday all said the same thing, they were thrilled with the people interaction and they loved the look on everyone’s face when their whistle actually functioned. They were doing so much more than helping people make whistles. They helped some kids and adults hold a woodworking tool for the first time. This is a very powerful and primal experience. It is delivering the idea of self sufficiency in a world that leaves many individuals feeling disempowered. They were teaching problem solving, that saw could be used for many things, the measuring tools have many applications as well as the shaping tools. 2 parents during the event were blown away by the focus their kids had for this project and wanted to know where they could find classes. Because of these volunteers’ we reached over 150 people instead of 25. It made a difference. I volunteer for many things, I believe it is an important part of being in a community, my neighborhood and the community of woodworking/ turning I belong to. When ever you get something from community or activity it is important to give something back.  It does not have to be an activity that overtakes your life, it can be a simple as showing up at the Kimmel Center for 6 hours and helping a ton of people make a simple thing. Here are some pictures:

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