Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunrise over Waterman Farm

Sunrise over Waterman Farm, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

This morning brought the most spectacular sunrise I've ever seen in central Ohio. What a wonderful way to start the day, and what a nice reminder that the winter solstice has come and gone and the days will be getting longer.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas (or other significant religious or non-religious celebration of the season). Christmas 1999 was the first day I did any turning and so tomorrow marks my 10th anniversary as a wood turner. What an amazing ride that has been.

Ten years ago on my birthday in October, Steve gave me a minilathe. It sat in the box until Christmas morning because I didn't have any turning tools. So, Christmas rolls around and there's a big, clunky box under the tree. I thought it was probably something for the kitchen and so I was less than enthusiastic about opening it. I had made a family rule some years before then that no one was to give me a utilitarian gift for the kitchen (after having received, year after year, the gamut of small kitchen appliances and gadgets, which usually meant more work for me).

I think that big clunky box was the last to be opened. I was so very pleasantly surprised to find a set of wood turning tools. I knew nothing about sharpening, didn't have a grinder, but I really, really wanted to give them a try and so I rushed down to the basement, pulled the lathe out of its box, set it up on my workbench (much, much too high for turning), put a piece of wood between centers and started, right then, to teach myself to turn. Catches? You bet! I learned from each one of them.

I have a wonderful neighbor across the street. His name is Walt Betley and he's been turning now for 77 years (he's 88). He soon set me straight on the proper use of my new tools and he sharpened the set for me. Needless to say, I bought a grinder and sharpening supplies and straight away learned the value of sharp tools.

I took every project across the street to Walt for his honest critique. He's a retired army colonel and so had no qualms whatsoever in telling me what was wrong with each piece. However, he also told me how to fix it. I well remember the day when I took a bowl over for his critique and he handed it back to me without a single criticism. That was within six months of the beginning of my adventures as a wood turner.

Funny thing about turning bowls and gift items and not being able to give them all away: I got bored with brown and round before the end of my first year as a wood turner. I walked into our local Woodcraft one day and saw a whole wall of carving chisels. Simple surface enhancements in the form of lines and divots soon ensued. Not long after that I discovered acrylic paints in one of the craft stores. The sign above the display said something about their being useful for painting wood. Hmmmmmmm - I think you can see how my style of work had its beginning.

Carving, painting, wood burning, whatever - I wanted to see what would happen and I experimented to my heart's content. I didn't know I was breaking tradition - I was just pursuing my curiosity.

I went to my first AAW symposium in 2001. I brought three small painted and textured bowls with me to display in the instant gallery. I sold all of them - imagine my shock and pleasant surprise. The next year I attended the symposium I brought the first of my botanical motif designs. My large platter was selected for the instant gallery critique, and I was invited to exhibit with del Mano gallery. Shock of all shocks! I had been turning for all of 2.5 years and was invited by the premier gallery of craft art? Wow!

Needless to say, I wasn't quite prepared for that kind of attention since I didn't even know I had any artistic talent. I had always thought that artistic talent meant you could draw or paint. I can't draw, and didn't think I knew anything about painting. How wrong I was. I discovered, through working with wood, that I can envision things in 3D and bring my visions to life. I taught myself to paint, and I'm self taught in turning and carving. I do take every opportunity to take a class with a master turner when we have visitors to the club. I'll continue to learn at every opportunity.

The past 10 years has been a wonderful journey in discovering and expressing my artistic talent. I feel so fortunate to have a great job, a great family, good health, and the time to play with wood. I've met so many interesting people through wood turning and have seen a lot of interesting places through my demonstration opportunities. I'm represented by del Mano gallery, The American Art Company, The Real Mother Goose gallery, Nina Bliese gallery, and several others when I'm invited to exhibit. Yep, it's been a fantastic 10 years.

Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes Andi, you have been blessed with and developed many talents, and it has been fun watching them bloom. Keep up with your adventures, and we observers enjoy seeing where journeys lead you in the future. Merry Christmas to you, Steve and family.