Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The origin of art . . .

How's that for a heady subject title? I don't usually have an opportunity to link my scientific interests with my artistic ones other than the inspirations I draw from my work that play into my designs. However, this morning the New York Times ran an article on the origins of art and so I thought it would be fun to put the link to the article here on my blog.

The Dance of Evolution, or How Art got its Start

I found the article to be very interesting. If you read it and find something of interest to share, please leave a comment. I'd like to try having a dialogue on the blog with this article as a starting point.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A visit to the Carolina Mountain Woodturners

I had the great pleasure to return to visit the Carolina Mountain Woodturners last weekend. I was previously there in 2003, and I was expecting to have a great time based on my previous visit. I was spot on. I think this club is the best in the world, and they really know how to put on a great event. They have a very large club and a volunteer bank that seems pretty deep. All the jobs that need to be done for set-up, logistics, and tear-down are covered and everyone in attendance jumps in to help where needed.

The club meets at the Folk Art Center on Blue Ridge Parkway, east of Asheville. It's a fantastic venue with stadium seating and good views and sound for all attendees. Large monitors show all the action and there is a big screen for LCD projection.

I started my demo with a slide show on design inspirations from nature. Then I did a bit of turning to show how I design the form for carving one of my leaf sculptures. After lunch I demonstrated carving, pyrography and coloring techniques.

Bob Heltman posted a video clip of the highlights of my demonstration on YouTube. He added some Aisling background music from our new CD, "The Pilgrim's Road."

On Sunday I did a hands-on class with six students. Going from the far left, clockwise around the table were: Lee Holt, Peter Mino, Bill Hyatt, Bob Gunther, Tucker Garrison, and Dave Vizard.

They sure were concentrating hard most of the day.

We were at John Hill's shop and so at lunchtime he took the time to show everyone his woodturning collection. It was really great to hear him describe the pieces and the background of some of the makers.

John has a good representation of contemporary woodturning and he and Patti have a beautiful home decorated with friends. I say "friends" because, as with most collectors, Patti and John collect the work from artists who they've come to know and with whom they've developed a relationship.

The friendships are obvious when you listen to how John describes each piece in the collection.

I enjoy visiting Patti and John. Their home is chock full of hand made crafts. Many of these baskets are ones that Patti has made. You'll see some of her signature work when you scroll down this posting.

The dining room has a wonderful view of the grounds outside the house.

I got a big kick out of watching the Guinea fowl. I see guineas everytime I visit South Africa, and I have to report that these American grown ones are every bit as stupid as their African counter parts.

There was always a big confusion when part of the flock would fly over into an enclosed area. They'd spend hours running up and down the fence line trying to figure out how they got in there and how do they get back?

End of the class success, and happy faces (whew!). L to R: Lee, Bill, Bob, Tucker, Dave, and Peter.

Oh yeah, I should be in there, too.

Here's Patti Quinn Hill posing with three of her paper woven baskets. Patty paints interesting color patterns on heavy paper, cuts the sheets into strips and uses these for weaving. The effect is stunning.

Here are the baskets on their own.

Detail of the one on the left,

the one on the right,

and the one in the middle. Fabulous, eh?

John and Patti have a 20 acre farm. They raise poultry for eggs, have a large garden, lease out part of the farm for pasture, and keep about 13 acres in woodland.

The pond has fish, and is home to mallards and Canada Goose. These are pretty well conditioned to expect some corn from John as he approaches the edge.

We went for a walk on the three miles of trails they've made through the woods, and so I took a lot of photo studies of things we saw on the walk.

Beech leaves.

Oak leaves - I love the mottled coloring

A decaying trunk of American Chestnut that would have been cut about 100 years ago.

The leaf litter was very thick and made lovely crunching sounds as we walked. Ahhhhh - Autumn in all its glory.

American Chestnut trunk study

Another view

This was pretty cool - some previous owner had an antenna strung up on the top of the hill. This is the original lead line to the antenna - very old, indeed to see this kind of configuration in the wire.

Autumn foliage still hanging on to the trees

This is a relatively young forest. Previous generations of farmers had logged off the hillsides for pasture land. The forest is making a nice recovery, and it includes parasitic plants such as Conopholis (Squaw Root) and Monotropa (Indian Pipe). These plants indicate to me that this forest is starting to accumulate enough organic matter in the soil to have a healthy community of organisms.

John and Patti Hill

What a lovely place to walk.

This is their spring, and the water is wonderful. I love spring water best of all - what a treat!

Here's a new trail that John is cutting.

Autum leaf study - wonderful colors in that leaf.

Mushroom study

. . . and another,

and one more.

When trees come down in a storm, they are left in place to recycle into the ecosystem.

Another American Chestnut stump

I can't remember what tree this was, but the bark was amazing.

This is the leaf and bark of a sourwood tree. These are all over the woods at John and Patti's farm. I wasn't familiar at all with this species, and I guess that makes sense since we don't get this in the woods where I go birding in Ohio.

Patti called this the "kissing stump."

Talk about a contrast in textures. Tree, meet rock. Rock, meet tree.

In a healthy forest, everything becomes a miniature garden.

Beautiful ferns, all around.

Bryophytes and lichens are also everywhere.

I really enjoyed my visit with Patti and John.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Central Ohio Woodturners, November 2007

The Central Ohio Woodturners meets on the second Tuesday of the month. The November meeting featured simultaneous demonstrations of small turnings to make for gifts. I arrived to the meeting a bit on the late side - just in time for Barbara Crockett, the club prez, to invite me to do the show-and-tell table. I haven't done that in a long time, so it was kind of fun.

This and the next couple of pictures show most of the turnings on the show-and-tell table.

Walt Betley did a demo on sea urchin Christmas ornaments.

J. R. Beall visited the club to demonstrate his new ornamental pen jig.

It's always great to have J. R. come to a club meeting.

This is his new rig. He had previously made an ornamental attachment for a minilathe. This is a stand alone unit.

One of our club members demonstrated bottle stoppers from a single piece of wood.

Here's Walt Betley turning the icicle for a sea urchin ornament.

Ruth Thomas demonstrating miniature acorn boxes.

Don Lehman demonstrated segmented bottle stoppers.

The beginner's corner was on pen turning.

A view of the members having a good time.

The guy in the center is Dennis. He's blind, but turns some amazing things. This month he had a pepper mill on the show-and-tell table, which he had turned using a skew. He's an amazing guy and it' always a delight to see how he explores a piece by touch. He's examining Ruth's small acorn box in this pic.