JANUARY 25,2011

I taught a class at Santa Cruz High School this week. Before the class I was talking with some folks who came to check out the van. I was explaining why I think my trip is important.  I teach adults at schools all over the country, usually beginners. It is very exciting for me to see the looks on students faces as they create one piece after the other, never thinking they could become so good, so quickly. The lathe is made for teaching. A beginner can get on it quickly with little instruction and start forming a cylinder, a little more instruction and the cylinder becomes a row of shapes, a little more instruction and they are holding a -pen-whistle-candlestick-spatula-awl-mallet…… I am an accomplished woodworker and have taught woodworking on many levels. To become competent or even to make a simple object takes time and much instruction. It requires conceptual thinking, knowledge of wood structure and sharpening, before the wood is ever touched. Many people do not have the patience to complete a course and keep going. After one full day of turning instruction a student could go home and start producing product. This inspires them to learn more and more. We all want to be successful. When I begin a week long class I always ask the participants what got them to that moment sitting in front of me in that class room. Many times the answer is – when I was in high school I made an bowl,baseball bat, candle stand,lamp base etc… on the lathe, and after 30 -40 or even 50 years I still remember how fun it was. Now that he /she has the time they are pursuing it. I wondered out loud to the people standing around the van -what would happen if no one had the initial experience. There would be no need to or even knowledge of what turning is to get them to that class. Sometimes on the road when I explain what I am doing people do not have a clue as to what a lathe or the act of turning is ,even though the evidence of it surrounds them constantly (stair parts,Molds for manufactured items,columns etc…) I want these kids and adults to have an exciting moment that plants a seed that might grow immediately or germinate over years.

I am in Moss Beach California at the home of David and Aileen Olney. We met a couple of years ago at a class they took for their 25th anniversary. They have been wonderful hosts and have allowed me to use their shop this week. It has been like a breath of air to get back to making my own pieces. It makes me realize that I am a teacher , but a maker first and foremost. The teaching is my expression of sharing the excitement I get from making any object.  I leave tomorrow after a talk in Grass Valley for Florida. Tight scheduling means I have a week to get there so my friend Gretchen is arriving this afternoon to drive with me. We will be driving like bats out of……

Here are some pics of the last two weeks.

El Camino College/Cub Scouts

My new best friend Pico Olney

Gold Fever

A possible next residence

trees at Half Moon Bay

Flowers in January

What not to do

About turningaroundamerica

Collaborative Team of Jenn Moller and Beth Ireland
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