My Woodturning Story
Before finishing my career as a teacher I decided that a different career pathway was needed. Coming from a very practical Yorkshire family all connected with the building trade, I have as a matter of course, always done more or less everything in the house, painting and decorating, demolishing walls and chimneys, building walls, sheds, cupboards, pergolas, paving, stonework etc.. My mother was a fantastic seamstress, creating all our clothes, masses of wedding dresses and even hats and men’s suits, she made all her own patterns. I followed the tradition and love re-upholstery, sewing curtains and restoring furniture, but I never make my clothes being put off by having to stand still having unfinished garments pinned on me. I suppose as a result of post war deprivations in the 50s I have always grown vegetables and fruit, making hundreds of pounds of jam, marmalade, chutneys, bottling and freezing etc. Like my Granny I always have a big larder store “just in case”, but unlike her it isn’t in the wardrobe! These activities are just part of everyday living, fitted around work. So what could I do that I hadn’t done before?
I chose woodturning, something completely different, on seeing some intricate toys and puzzles made by a great professional woodturner, Allan Beecham. I had a few lessons with Neil Jarvis of British Gates who set me a challenge to replicate a small cherry bowl with a spiral stem. I could do it now but I can’t show him as he was tragically killed in a car accident. I learned a lot from professional demonstrations at Woodturning Shows such as Axminster and Yandles, and found Bert Marsh particularly inspiring and mischievous, his greeting was always “Hello Missus Chairman”. In 2001 I was invited to join the local club, Wealden Woodturners, and have been their Chairman since 2002. The Club (WWT) has always had a high standard of turners both professional and amateur, started by Allan Beecham, one of its founder members was Theo Fabergé and several members also belonged to The Worshipful Company of Turners and The Society of Ornamental Turners. So expectations were high! Nevertheless complete beginners were, and still are, welcomed.
This is me in my workshop turning a large lump of wood off the end of the lathe. It will be a large turned and carved wall-hanging. Above is how it looked to start.
The logs on my woodpile swiftly became mounds of shavings as I practised my beads, coves and curves! Becoming successful in our club competitions encouraged me to enter National ones. I joined the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (AWGB) and at their biennial International Seminar in 2003 had a piece chosen as one of the best 50 exhibits, this was featured in Woodturning Magazine and Revolutions (AWGB) magazine.
Each AWGB Seminar since then I have been very pleased to have a piece chosen, except 2015 when I diverted from purist forms to include carving. My piece “Death of a Red Oak”, a protest against a local Housing Association cutting down a giant Red Oak, was made from the actual tree. (See in Gallery). The Seminar pieces go on tour to woodworking shows throughout the following two years.
2003 A thinly turned vase with a rather strange too fussy finial.
2005 Lignum Vitae and Ebony Cup and Cover, made from a piece of a Victorian Mangle, given to me by a late dear friend Bill Thurlow.
2007 Hibiscus flower box; Masur Birch.
2009 Ostrich egg box encased in Lignum Vitae and Blackwood.
2011 Thuya and pewter box.
2013 Walnut and pewter chalice.