Saturday, 31 December 2011

Another year gone by.

Another year has gone bye and a new year to look forward to.I was lying in bed this morning and thinking of where my turning has gone and where it is going.It is now eight years since i started my journey as a woodturner and many thousands of hours.It has been an interesting and enjoyable journey from the day I walked into my Brother Chris's workshop in Devon.Chris is a self employed joiner with a workshop on the edge of Dartmoor where he produces bespoke joinery work.On this particular day he was turning a newel post for a customer.I remember being quite fascinated and when he had finished he let me have a go.
That was it I was hooked and have turned almost every day since.
I am a bricklayer by trade and spent many years plastering scaffolding and lorry driving.It came as quite a surprise to me and it has to be said my family when I got into woodturning.It was always supposed that as I was always big and strong fine works would not really be my thing.My father still to this day is amazed at some of the works I turn out and never forgets to tell me.
I am a very fussy person when it comes to quality and will not settle for anything less than perfect.I have lessons from a number of professional turners to refine my work.The best thing that ever happened to me as far as quality within my woodturning was meeting Mark Sanger who I had tuition from .The important thing I have learnt from Mark is that there is no substitute for form and finish.
Mark and I speak on the telephone almost every day and when I am not sure of something I can always rely on him to give me guidance and sound advise.
I think most turners aim to create a name for themselves by creating works that is universally recognised by other turners as their work in other words signature pieces.I don't think I will ever  have a signature piece as my work is always changing.I tend to start making something like Hollow forms or something and make hundreds until I think they are as near to perfect as I can get then I move on to something else.Most of my work now is coloured and textured and I have no idea what I will be doing in the future.The problem I have is that because none of the work I have done in the past had any artistic input, bricklaying plastering and scaffolding needed lots of muscle and very little brain I am now playing catch up. I am sure like most people I do have artistic ability it is just finding and exploiting it.I am hoping to take my turning further next year  and also do as much teaching and demonstrating as possible.My greatest pleasure is teaching and passing on the things I have learnt.There can be no greater pleasure than to see a student who has never tried woodturning before go away with something they have made in their first lesson and a big smile on their face.
I would like to wish all of my friends a very happy new year.


  1. Hi George

    Good to read your thoughts and thank you for the mention.

    I don't know it all and if you ask me a question that I don;t have the answer to I just make it up, :-)

    Although you did come to me some years ago for for a lesson on technique you have put the hard work in to progress far beyond what can be taught. The problem I think is that many do not understand how much hard work has to be endured to progress.

    This of course never stops as their is always room for refinement in everything we do. It is important to re-visit what we do every time a tool is picked up or a technique is used.

    In far eastern philosophy it is called "beginners mind" , a subject worth investigating.

    Have a great 2012.


  2. Hi Mark.You are right I don't think some turners stop to think about the hours and hard work that some of us put in to improve our skills.I also think that a lot are only prepared to take ideas from others instead of doing the groundwork themselves.As you know I have put in thousands of non productive hours experimenting and improving techniques.The trouble in this country is that because there are so many poor turners churning out poor work and selling it for peanuts nobody is prepared to pay for quality.
    Never mind we will struggle on and try our best to improve the image of woodturning in this country.

  3. Hi George

    Trying to change anything has to come from within and that at the moment is being held back by the natural order of things. Best just to concentrate on what you are doing in isolation and not worry about what others are doing.

    You will find I expect if we get into the minds of many great artists and makers from years gone by that they just concentrate on their own work to the exclusion of all else.

    Another part of eastern philosophy is called
    " minding you own business" another subject worth looking into. It is not about people keeping their nose out of others business but about looking in a concentrated way how we go about we we ourselves are doing.