Online preview of “allTURNatives”

You can now preview our show, the new “allTURNatives” exhibit of ITE work, as photographed by John Carlano. The Wood Turning Center will have its own virtual exhibit on its site in the near future, which will include some installation shots and other material not available to me, so keep checking there.

Some caveats apply here: Only for my objects are titles provided (viewable if you allow the Active X controls or when you hover your cursor over the large image), and only my sequence is chronological. The sequences of images for other folks’ work are not chronological and may not even be logical; this can be blamed on the order in which the objects were photographed and the way the files were named. Some objects have multiple photos; in particular, John shot rapid sequences of Siegfried’s kinetic work in motion to try to capture their movement. Be sure to scroll through all of the thumbnails at the left of the screen to see all of the images. Here are links to the web pages, by artist:

If you can, please come see the work in person at the Wood Turning Center. Join us there on Friday night at 5:30 for our official opening or on Saturday afternoon, 2–4, for a gallery talk with all of us.

Hurtling toward the finale

What a trip the last week has been. Turn, turn, turn. Even Thursday night, at midnight on the last night before having our work photographed and delivering it to the Wood Turning Center, Jean-François was turning one more wall piece while Siegfried and I cataloged and prepped our pieces. Friday morning, Sean was touching up pieces while packing his work up.

Friday was a long day at the photographer’s studio. John Carlano photographed everything, and we are talking about a huge quantity of work, especially from Jean-François and Sean. I counted at least 46 pieces from Jean-François, including 10 wall hangings and 6 cement bowls, and 39 from Sean. I can’t count Siegfried’s, because many of his involve multiple pieces and I don’t know what the combinations are. Divided as my time was and as slow as I am, I have 15 new pieces—of which, I will say, I am pretty proud.

Saturday, Vince Romaniello filmed Lesya dancing with Sean’s piece, my piece, and Peter’s chainsawn bench. The bench dance involved the four of us turners interacting with the bench (under Lesya’s command) as well. The film will be showing at the opening and, I assume, throughout the exhibition.

All the work is at the Wood Turning Center now. It has all been professionally photographed. I think the cataloging is done. The exhibit designer comes today to lay it all out. The work will be installed, labels will be printed and placed, and Friday night, the whole shebang will be unveiled.

Meanwhile, Sean was back at the workbench the instant he was free from other duties. Jean-François and Siegfried have also been back at it. Everyone is busy making gifts, except me. I have not been able to work since finalizing my pieces, and I had to push hard to manage that, because since last Monday, July 23, I have been battling vertigo. The world keeps tilting on its axis, and I have been working hard just to stay upright. I stagger about like an old drunk, sitting or leaning as much as possible, even napping on the floor of Jane’s office when it gets too bad. I’m trapped in my own Hitchcock movie. Where is Kim Novak (or Barbara Bel Geddes, for that matter) when you need her?

Friday–Sunday, July 20–22

We worked.

Don’t expect much in the way of posts for the next few days. Our deadline for turning in work for the final exhibition is this Friday, so all we will be doing until then is working, and for me at this point, that means turning, not blogging.

Here are a few photos from the last couple of days, just to try to keep you current.

Siegfried and Sean at work in their respective spaces.

Sean turning a new piece from manzanita root.

A new piece in process on Sean's workbench.

Siegfried makes—and throws—his own confetti.

The pile of shavings under Siegfried's lathe.

More of Siegfried's roughed-out pieces.

Jean-François's spalted ash series.

One of Jean-François's new series of black and white and black-and-white bowls.

New (and old, in the background) cement bowls by Jean-François.

Another view of Jean-François's cement bowls.

A pair of cherry bowls by me, before carving.

A pear bowl I made for Jane.


Thursday, July 19

We are really in production mode now. Except for a brief meeting with Albert and Jane about scheduling and shop rules, we all just worked. I wish I were as fast as these guys, but I gave up trying to keep up long ago.

Jean-François whipped through his spalted ash bowls and is doing more Chinese elm bowls. He tried texturing them with an electric chainsaw, but the effect once the texture is wire-brushed is not much different from what he has done with an Arbortech—not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Jean-François uses a chainsaw to texture his bowl.

A bowl textured using a chainsaw.

Sometimes length does matter.

Sean has made a few pieces in this form, appealing in its simplicity and very versatile. Check out the “carved” motif on the face of the first piece. Those are bug holes, guys. I have never seen them form a pattern like this. Let’s hope some of these bugs survived to pass on their genes to other wood borers.

A new creation from Sean.

Here is another piece in the same form. You can see the other side of it in the next photo, along with the next incarnation of one of the pieces shown in yesterday’s post.

Another new creation from Sean.

The other side and a new version of a piece from yesterday.

And here is a new piece in that form being started on the lathe. A simple block, a simple form, but with oh-so-many possibilities.

A new one on the lathe.

Siegfried was busy with the chainsaw for a long time today, cutting up a large log of what we think is silver maple. Then one minute, I was holding the door for him as he came in carrying an armload of cut blocks; the next, he had this array of roughed-out vessels sitting on his workbench. Check out the figure in some of these pieces.

Siegfried's roughed-out pieces.

Another roughed-out piece. And one on the lathe.

Siegfried wanted to be sure that I got a good shot of the lovely shavings he is getting from this wood. Mmm. Maybe I’ll steal a little tomorrow.

Beautiful shavings.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of what I am doing, but I almost finished a large, flared cherry bowl today—and maybe I will go finish it now, before heading back to the dorm for bed. I will again be playing with the idea of cleaving as I carve its rim. And Jane brought me branches from her brushpile that I will use with the pear vessel I turned yesterday. Are you intrigued?

In case you are wondering about the toll this intensive experience is taking on us, know that Jean-François has been talking to his tool rest—and it answers him in French.

Wednesday, July 18

Lesya came in again today, both to carve more waves and to meet with Vince Romaniello, who will be filming her five dances for screening at the opening. She is coming in tomorrow to carve again. I think we might have an addict on our hands! After all, working with your hands is a different kind of dancing.

Siegfried finished (I think) his carved box elder vessel—at least, he finished the bottom of it on the lathe today.

Siegfried's carved box elder vessel.

He also finished the Cryptomeria bowl that cracked so badly, making flames where there was damage.

Siegfried's 'flame' bowl.

Jean-François and I finished the last of our broken-bowl series. For more control, instead of breaking the bowl, we cut it on a scroll saw.

Cutting the osage orange bowl.

Here is what the final two vessels look like. The epoxy is still setting on the osage orange bowl in this photo.

The glued-up osage orange bowl and the repaired Chinese elm bowl.

Jean-François also started a new series of spalted ash bowls today.

Jean-François's spalted ash bowl.

Here is some of what Sean was working on today.

Piece in progress.Piece in progress.

Another piece in progress.The other side.

I finished the turning of a tall pear vessel and will carve the lip tomorrow. Interesting that I who have no elegance and no grace can yet create elegance and grace with this sturdy hands. I also cut a wedge from the natural-edge pear bowl I turned yesterday and am waiting to see what happens. And I started a large cherry bowl. No photos, though. Maybe tomorrow.

Altogether, another quiet, intensive work day—and that’s probably what you can expect from us until July 27, when we turn in work for the exhibition. I’ll do what I can to keep it interesting, but here is where the push begins.

Alas, I got no replies to my 4 a.m. cry in the wilderness this morning. Ah, well. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 17

Today was a fairly quiet, intensive work day.

Lesya came in not to dance but to carve waves for Siegfried’s collaborative wave piece. Sadly, there were misunderstandings early on in the communication process for this collaboration, and Sean and Jean-François won’t be working on it. Happily, Peter did and Lesya is and I will and Elisabeth may. And in the end, the public also will, as the piece will be installed as an interactive work, with anyone free to arrange the wave forms as they like.

Lesya carves waves.

Siegfried continued carving his box elder vessel. He later found that mounting it on the lathe to carve let him see and control better what he was doing.

Siegfried carves a box elder vessel.

Siegfried carves on the lathe for better position.

Sean worked on new and old pieces. The black in this one is not painted but ebony.

Sean paints a new piece.

Jean-François and I began our collaboration, based on an idea I used in a previous work, of breaking and repairing vessels visibly. Here are the vessels we started with. Jean-François turned the Chinese elm and osage orange bowls; I turned the sycamore bowl (the smallest).

Jean-François's and my bowls.

Breaking the piece takes a bit of will. We broke the sycamore bowl into just three pieces.

I break the first bowl.

Jean-François hit the Chinese elm bowl squarely and got a complicated break, which made gluing it—using 5-minute epoxy with a working time of maybe 2 minutes—a real challenge. Adding acrylic paint to the epoxy for color decreases (maybe even halves) the working time, so I use 30-minute epoxy at home. The 5-minute version is what we had on hand here, though. (For anyone who wants to know more about coloring epoxy, I discuss the subject in an article called “Nulling Voids: Filling Cracks and Holes in Wood” that, along with other articles, is available on my website under “Other links.”)

Jean-François's broken second bowl.

We used red for the sycamore and black for the Chinese elm. I mixed the red from acrylic paints; the black we achieved by mixing in charcoal from burnt wood (which Jean-François happened to have in jar).

I like the way the interior of the sycamore bowl came out; the exterior needs some touchup, though.

The interior of the first glued bowl.The exterior of the first glued bowl.

This technique—this trope, really—is deeply meaningful for me (you can read a note about the backstory on this here, under “About the work”), and it is one I intend to explore in a series of works after I return home. Using it in this collaboration is a little odd for me—like choosing a subject like, say, “death” or “incest” for a poetic exercise—and I find myself holding back emotionally, treating the process as more of a technical exercise than an act of artmaking. I would like to talk with Jean-François about how he feels about this process—indeed, how he feels about artmaking in general. I have wanted to from the beginning—the chance to explore the subject with other artists is one reason I applied for the residency—but before now, I have felt stymied by the language barrier—even though Siegfried and I managed a deep conversation about it driving home from D.C. This now is an opportunity to explore the subject.

For me, turning is deeply emotional, not just an application of technique, and it is an act in which meaning is both intentional and discovered. For me, the aspect of meaning—not technical sophistication—is what makes turning an art and not just a craft. I can argue with myself about this, of course—is not craft about creating beauty and is not creating beauty meaning enough? Yes, yes—but I’ll put this statement out in hopes of eliciting conversation about it. Turners who regard yourselves as artists (any artists, really), what do you say? Have your objects meaning? Is the meaning intentional? Do you start with wanting to express something, or does the expression emerge through the work? How do you create? Have you something to say? Must an artist have something to say? Is it enough to create objects in which others find their own meaning? Is beauty enough? Do any of you care, or do you care only about the making?

I really must sleep now. Let me hear from you, readers.

Ether-net connections

Since I’ve been doing the blog, I often receive emails from strangers who are reading the blog but don’t feel comfortable making public comments. I received such an email today, and after I read it, I was idly looking at the sender’s name and noticed that the email address was from Hawaii. Hmm, I thought, didn’t I know a girl in junior high with the same name who had lived in Hawaii before and loved it? Could she have moved back to Hawaii later? No way, I thought. No, no possible way. I began to tremble. My mind was reeling.

I Googled her name. I couldn’t find a photo of her, but I found that she was of Scottish-Irish heritage, and that clicked.

I composed a reply, thanking her for reading my blog, etc., and then asked if perhaps she might possibly have lived in Virginia as a teenager way back when. The answer came back in minutes: “Oh man, Lynne!!!!!! I wondered what happened to you!!”

We were thirteen years old, people. Thirty-seven—count them—years ago. I lived there for only five and a half months, and we didn’t even attend the same school. But, however briefly, we were close, and the memories stuck. We exchanged numbers and the phone rang and her voice was the same and she said mine was the same and I had the same laugh and I couldn’t stop laughing. And we’re both professional turners now and what a way to reconnect! I’m still smiling and shaking my head.

Bless Al Gore for inventing the Internet.

Monday, July 16

Here I am blogging about our day on the same day. Except for filling in some text, that means I’m caught up. Hallelujah!

We rearranged the shop today. Or, rather, mostly Jean-François and Sean rearranged the shop, changing spots so that we can better take advantage of the natural light. Here is how the shop looks now. What you see when you walk in is still my area, but with the wall behind the workbench gone. Beyond me (to the right in the photo) is now Jean-François’s work area.

Entering the shop.

Looking more to the right, you see this. The bench with our shared tools is behind the post.

The center of the room.

Here is a closer view of Jean-François’s new work area. He gets direct light from the window on his work when he is turning outboard.

Jean-François's new work space.

Looking farther right, you see Siegfried’s corner. We cleared space in the back area for Lesya to dance in on community day. Siegfried may move his lathe back into that space after Lesya leaves us this week.

Siegfried's corner.

And, finally, as you look all the way right, across from my area and behind the entryway wall is Sean’s new work area.

Sean's new work space.

Because she was ill most of last week, Lesya is still with us this week. She is developing dances for one piece from each of us, and Vince Romaniello, the videographer from last year’s ITE, will be filming her for screening at the opening, which she cannot attend. She will also help carve and texture some of the waves for the wave collaboration.

Lesya rearranges the waves.

Siegfried, whose work I have neglected in recent days, has started the carving and texturing. I will do some carving and maybe some coloring later. Elisabeth may come by and do some too. (Are you reading this, Elisabeth?)

Siegfried carves the waves.

Some of the carved waves.

Here are some of the other pieces I’ve failed to adequately document recently. Siegfried’s collaboration with Peter has two deep, thin-walled box elder bowls suspended on cables in a concrete-and-walnut structure. The cable on the left bows out, so the bowl leans out of the structure. The concrete still needs to be sealed, but otherwise this piece is done.

Siegfried's collaboration with Peter.

Here is Siegfried’s thin-walled concrete bowl. Antique-brown wax has been applied to the surface.

Siegfried's cement bowl.Another view of Siegfried's cement bowl.

Jean-François’s thin-walled cement bowl is quite different.

Jean-François's cement bowl.

Jean-François took these pictures of his three-bowl Chinese elm series while I closed in on the tail of the blog.

Jean-François's Chinese elm series.

Closeup of Jean-François's Chinese elm bowls.

Sean has been productive recently too. These are the latest incarnations of familiar pieces.

Sean's 'holey man' sculpture.Another of Sean's sculptures.

A finished sculpture.The other side.

These are some pieces I hadn’t seen before.

New work by Sean.

Another sculpture.The other side.

Now that I’m catching up on the blog, I get to turn too! Here is a small barkless-natural-edge sycamore bowl that I began during community day. I have pierced tiny holes near the rim. I may do more after I sit with it a bit.

A small, carved sycamore bowl.

This is a very simple new bowl I turned all but the base of today. Jean-François and I will use it in a collaboration.

End-grain sycamore bowl.

A day of goodbyes (Sunday, July 15)

Peter and Elisabeth left us yesterday.

Here’s a look at some of the breakthrough work Peter has done during the ITE. First the wearable line (and a couple of wall pieces). Judging from the response to these pieces, Peter will be able to sell all he chooses to make. If you want one, you had better make it to the preview show August 3.

Two small wall pieces and some cable-and-wood necklaces.

More cable-and-wood necklaces.

Cast cement water bottles. What was he trying to say by leaving them capless? (In truth, these are pretty cool. The cement actually feels like plastic.)

Cement water bottles.

You’ve seen this piece in the blog before, but I think he decided to make it horizontal instead. Again, these are forms Peter has used to cast pieces for his furniture. The concrete darkens the form wherever it contacts it.

Wall hanging of used cast forms.

Peter had time for a last lunch with Siegfried and me before he managed to get packed up and on the road.

Elisabeth, on the other hand, just came in to say goodbye and sign her bowl, her first turned work, a mortar made of pear.

Elisabeth signs her mortar.

Elisabeth's mortar.

Elisabeth's arrangement of the waves.

And saddest of all . . . Hilary’s cookies are all gone.

Hilary's empty cookie tin.

Thank you, Hilary, for hearing—and answering—our silent prayer in our hour of need.

Dinner with the LeCoffs (Saturday, July 14)

We all went to Albert and Tina’s for dinner after community day. Everyone was a little punchy after our long day, and it was nice to relax together. In truth, I was focused on dinner and hadn’t even thought about the collection we would be seeing. Doh. Of course, they would have their pick of work from practically any wood artist in the world. It’s a good thing I downloaded photos from community day and recharged my camera in between, or I would have been kicking myself and begging for a return visit.

In the LeCoffs' living room.

In the LeCoffs' living room.

In the LeCoffs' living room.

In the LeCoffs' living room.

Lacquerware (and more) in the LeCoffs' living room.

Albert tried to get us to guess what artist made the print above the mantel, and we came up dry. Can any of you guess? Robyn Horn. Yes, that Robyn Horn.

The LeCoffs' mantel.

I think the name of this ceramic artist is Siminski, but I’ll have to verify it. And the piece of furniture it’s displayed on is by some guy I just recently heard of—Peter Harrison, I think his name is—back in the days when he still occasionally turned.

An early Peter Harrison work.

We had a finger-lickin’ dinner of barbecued ribs and chicken, libations, and good cheer.


And then we went upstairs and looked at more work. These are the two “Japanese” bowls Albert and Tina brought back from AAW this year. The bowl on the left is by Michael Werner; the one on the right, by Merryll Saylan.

New acquisitions from the AAW Japanese bowl show.

I so want a television stand like this one . . .

Not an Ikea TV stand.

Jean-François, Siegfried, and Elisabeth check out a piece.

Albert modeled this collapsible helmet for us.

I thought Albert was drinking water at dinner . . .

And when we went down to dessert, we slipped gifts onto their plates: a necklace and a bolo tie, both made by Peter and Jean-François.

Albert and Tina show off their newest acquisitions.