August 16, 2010

Wow! where is the time going? I have never been so busy; cleaning studio to live in, setting up the demoes and teaching for my journey, and then of course I still have my regular work. I wanted to continue on with my story about what events led to this project. I have written about my interest in small space , and will now get  down to the woodworking part of the story. These two threads twist together to become Turning Around America. I got my undergrad degree in Art Education. While in school I took woodworking classes with a wonderful man named Wesley Brett. After graduation I moved to Boston. I wanted to continue learning about woodworking so I got a job as a carpenter. I have a good head for 3d space which led to being the top finish carpenter on my crew, executing all the built -ins, bookcases and trim work. Within 3 years I had my own shop specializing in built in furniture. I taught myself how to cut a dovetail ,sharpen chisels and  use of materials. I met a man named Albin Peterson at a local mill work shop and he was amused that a girl would be doing this work. We became friends and he started stopping by my shop for lunch. He taught me machine use , wood science, and techniques of pattern making. During his retirement he would often come work with our crew on jobs. This was in the early 80’s when jobs were plentiful. When I would get work that required special details such as carving or turning I would sub it out. One day I saw a lathe for sale at Harbor Freight. It was 129.00 dollars- cheap I reasoned-you could not even get a good drill for that. When it arrived my life would be forever altered. I set the lathe up at the end of the shop out of the way.   I was running a shop with 3 employees and barely had time to sleep as it was , but now there was no sleep. I would play with that lathe all night and start work bleary eyed in the morning. Someone called and asked if I could turn some balusters and I immediately said yes. This gave me a legitimate reason to play on the lathe. While I lost money (I ended up paying to do the job) my employees kept going with the paying gigs. After about 50 balusters I really started to get it. Many eureka moments occurred over the next couple of years, leading to competence on the machine. I bought a more expensive lathe within 4 months ,  and looking back can not believe the crazy things I did on it  ( dangerous and fun).In the early 90’s I joined a woodturning group called CNEW. The were a great bunch and many people in that group are still very close friends. It was a time before gadgets and huge stable lathes had flooded the market. We all taught each other what we knew, and were discovering. I became friends with one of the guys in the group named Wally. We were interested in pushing ourselves aesthetically and technically. We would exchange pieces we had given up on and bring them back the next meeting transformed. This was great fun. One month our challenge to each other was to exchange a bag of desperate objects (crap) and incorporate them into a bowl. Wally gave me golf tees, wisteria seeds, and some beads. I pondered this bag for the whole month between our meeting. My friend Martha had been working on a table in my shop with an epoxy inlay. There was a bunch left over and I thought what if I could cast the pieces in clear resin on the rim of a wooden bowl. I put my mind to it and came up with this bowl.

First Epoxy Bowl

About turningaroundamerica

Collaborative Team of Jenn Moller and Beth Ireland
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