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A little over 20 years ago, I was in college and had gone to visit my dad for the weekend. I don’t remember what started the conversation, but it ended with: “Son, you really need a hobby.” With that, he bought me a Carba-Tec mini lathe, a small chisel set, and a few pen kits from Penn State, for Christmas that year. I had no idea what I was doing, didn’t know a roughing gouge from a skew, and wasn’t even smart enough to get a book to find out. However, I knew I liked it. I would learn by picking up a tool, sticking it to the wood, and seeing what happened. (By the way, I don’t recommend this method, and I had stitches to prove it.) I lived in a studio apartment at the time, so I turned on 2 milk crates on the patio. Another thing I don’t highly recommend.

I ended up getting decent at pens, enough so that I could sell enough for spending money through college. Time went on and I lost interest. Later, I picked up interest in flat work, and spent time on jewelry boxes, small furniture, and even did a free floating mesquite mantle 3” thick.

In another throwback from college, I re-discovered my college sweetheart, and married her this time. We have 2 children from her first marriage, and 2 of our own.  My wife sometimes laments the time I spend in the shop, but she readily admits at least she knows where I am at, and I am not at the bars or chasing women.

I found myself not very satisfied with flat work, mostly because of all that measuring and angle finding stuff.  Between my attention span being what it is and the nature of flat work, I would start projects, and never get them finished.

I don’t remember exactly how or when, but I discovered turning again. I had an old Sears something or other lathe, and sold it and moved up to a Jet 1442. After about 2 years, I outgrew that and moved up to my PM 3520. My shop has now become my “studio.” (Sounds much more artistic and expensive.) and I have a dedicated 1 car slot in our 3 car garage. I mostly turn because I enjoy seeing the expression on people’s faces when I give them something and they can’t believe I made it, but I have also been able to sell several pieces.

I started out a purist, thinking I would never be so blasphemous as to carve or color on a turning. While I don’t go to the extremes that others do, I have softened that stance just a little bit. After watching artists such as Jimmy Clewes and Molly Winton embellish some of their work, I now think it has a time and place and, done tastefully, can enhance select pieces. I am enjoying the experimentation process.

I am the type of turner that starts out with an idea of what I want to turn, and usually wind up with something totally different. I don’t usually sketch what I want to do, but I don’t totally let the wood dictate what it wants to be, either. I have an idea in my head, and adapt it to either features in the wood, or mistakes I make when turning it.

My next step? I would like to sell more pieces, and work on hollow forms. Right now, most of them end up as projectiles, but it is really an admitted adrenaline rush for me when people say “wow.”

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Ash Platter.

Ash Platter.

Big leaf maple burl.

Big leaf maple burl.

Cocobolo shaving set.

Cocobolo shaving set.

Spalted maple flower pot..

Spalted maple flower pot with analine dye edge. Finished with 5 coats of an oil/urethane blend, and buffed with the beall buffing system.

Dyed Maple.

Dyed maple. Colors are powdered analine dyes. The center is gold and copper leaf.

Sycamore flame bowl.

A Sycamore bowl rough turned last year at the Desert Woodturning Roundup by Craig Jackson. I took it, dried it, final turned it, and put flames on it and burned the other areas as a club challenge and after watching a Molly Winton demo.

Juniper flower vase.

Flower vase made from Alligator Juniper. Very soft, and turns into powder even with sharp tools, but I really like the wood.

Cherry Cradle.

My son's cherry cradle.

Sycamore music bowl.

This is a piece of Sycamore I tried an experiment with after watching Molly Winton. The lines of the musical staff are wire burned, and the notes are burned with a pen burner.

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Norfolk Island Pine. It is turned to resemble the shape of a large Japanese Rice Bowl, about 10" in diameter, and finished with a BLO, Varnish and Mineral spirits blend.

shaving sets.

2 shaving sets. One of Cocobolo, the other in Walnut. Each kit is a bowl, shaving brush, and Geillette syle razor.

flame hollow vessel.

Cherry hollow form with analine dyed flames and burned dark areas.