HomeInternational Turning ExchangeThe past few days

These past few days have been jam-packed, but I’m too tired to do a full post, so here is a brief summary. You’ll have to wait for photos.

We nearly lost another resident to the emergency room. Saturday evening, Jean-François narrowly survived a vicious attack from a member of his own clan. He was chainsawing an elm log (his last name, Delorme, means “of the elm” in French), and it split and fell on his foot and broke his left big toe. Peter escorted him to the emergency room, and Jean-François managed to limp out on crutches at around 3 a.m. He stayed behind Sunday on our trip to Mark Sfirri’s and David Ellsworth’s but recovered enough to come with us Monday to Wilmington, where he got to tour Winterthur in a wheelchair in chauffered comfort. He will have his revenge on the elm, though: he will turn a bowl from the log that attacked him.

Our visits to Mark’s and David’s studios were fun. As I noted in my brief last post, Elisabeth accompanied us. She enjoyed having the chance to talk directly with two eminent woodturners (unlike us ITErs) about their work, and we enjoyed seeing their studios, their work (past and present), and the work they have acquired from other turners, and talking with them, of course. We also enjoyed getting to know Elisabeth.

Sunday evening was our first chance to meet Lesya, who seems eager to explore this opportunity with us. She couldn’t accompany all the rest of us to dinner with Albert and Tina that night, but she made it back Tuesday to learn more about our work and to take a turn at the lathe, where she quickly advanced to trying to turn beads and coves.

Elisabeth also tried her hand at turning on Tuesday and proved a ready student, though she admits it is “harder than [she] thought.” We didn’t make it easy for her: no round stock for her, but a still-rough log. She toughed it out, though, till it began to feel comfortable.

But I’m skipping Monday, a long day full of pleasures. We began by visiting Winterthur, accompanied by Charles Hummel, curator emeritus and gentleman extraordinaire. There we got to visit the restored woodshop of the Dominys, a three-generation woodworking family from East Hampton, NY, whose shop dates back to the 1700s. (The shell has been recreated, but the contents are original.) Unlike other visitors to the museum, we were able to enter the shop and see up close the tools and equipment the Dominys used, including a pole lathe and a great wheel lathe. We even got to hold some of the hand tools. And we got to see their clock-making shop as well, which contained two other lathes, one not even six inches long, contained in a box (photos will come!). Get your hands on Charles Hummel’s book With Hammer in Hand: The Dominy Craftsmen of East Hampton, New York to see some of what we experienced. We also got a quick view of Gord Peteran’s exhibition there and managed to see some of the Winterthur period rooms.

After a pleasant lunch with Charlie, we paid a delightful visit to the home of collectors Neil and Susan Kaye. Again, pictures will come. In the meantime, let me just say again how unique each collection is, how each reflects the personalities of the collectors, and what a pleasure it is to witness the joy people take in living in such beauty. The Kayes have many, many wonderful pieces and entertaining stories.

We then were treated to the eyepopping collection of Bruce and Marina Kaiser. What a profusion of art their home contains! To do their collection justice, I will have to borrow some photographs from my fellow residents, as I had very little battery power left after Winterthur and the Kayes. There are pictures, however; have no fear. Bruce (Marina was out of town) then generously took us all (Albert and Tina and Charles Hummel rounded out our party) out to dinner.

Yesterday, we had a long day back in the shop. Elisabeth and Lesya both got turning lessons, Elisabeth from Siegfried first, and both of them from me later (with good advice from Jean-François). Elisabeth got to know everyone a little more. Lesya began working with a couple of our pieces to develop dance works: Sean’s “mascot” sculpture (for which I need to write down the proper title) and my multiaxis cherry bowl, so far. Jean-François, who is unable to stand for long periods and so not yet able to turn, experimented with new finishes involving sand and gesso and other various coatings. Siegfried got the vacuum chuck up and running with a foot switch he had his wife send him from home, and he worked on finishing the large vessels he turned first. Sean continued to carve various pieces. Peter worked on building a form for a collaborative piece with Siegfried. He also helped Jane develop and pour a form for a table she is making (we get everyone working here). I worked on a new honey locust bowl with a textured exterior and helped Jane a little (mostly as supervisor) with her table.

Today, we are off to the Wharton Esherick Museum with a stop afterward at the studio of furniture maker Brad Smith. Perhaps by tomorrow I can have some pictures for you to look at.


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