Community day (Saturday, July 14)

Community day began with a little dance from Jean-François, perhaps shaking out the jitters before the crowd arrived.

Jean-François dances.

The event seemed to attract a good crowd of interested visitors. ’Round about noon, the shop was downright crowded. People watched us work, asked questions, looked at our work, and generally seemed to enjoy meeting us. The lunch catered by Paolo’s was pretty good too.

Sean talks about his work with visitors.

Siegfried demonstrated his skills.

Jean-François used vinegar and fire to draw a crowd.

A few people even wanted to talk with Peter and Elisabeth.

Peter talks with Sheryl and Tim Kochman.

Elisabeth discusses her experience with a visitor.

After lunch, I gave a private lesson in sanding to Elisabeth’s daughter Gianna.

Gianna learns to sand on the lathe.

And throughout the day, Lesya danced, first (and several times) with Sean’s piece, for which she had prepared.

Lesya dances to Sean's sculpture.

Lesya dances to Sean's sculpture.

Lesya dances to Sean's sculpture.

Lesya dances to Sean's sculpture.

And then, spontaneously, with mine. I was moved.

Lesya dances with my vessel.Lesya dances with my vessel.

Composite photo of the audience watching Lesya dance.

After everyone had gone, we did a little spontaneous celebrating.

Jean-François's designer Chinese elm hats.

Elisabeth and I helped Siegfried finalize the position of his vessels in his collaborative piece with Peter, which inspired Elisabeth to dance.

Elisabeth dances.

Elisabeth dances.

And Jean-François worked a little too, turning and decorating wood elements for Peter’s cable-and-wood jewelry line.

Jean-François chars a necklace piece.

Afterward, we all went to Albert and Tina’s house for dinner. That will be a long entry with a lot of photos, so it will have to wait for daylight.

Friday, July 13

Siegfried had cast a thin cement bowl with Peter the previous day, using Styrofoam for the form and cement fortified with acrylic “milk,” and it was ready to be opened. Peter used lacquer thinner to dissolve the Styrofoam. It doesn’t dissolve it cleanly, as I had expected; it makes quite a sticky goo, so be prepared if you try this at home. I need to remember to photograph and post the finished bowl. As you can see from the final photo in this sequence, it is nice and thin.

Using lacquer thinner to dissolve the Styrofoam.

Opening the form.

Trying to remove the center form.

Siegfried watches Peter extract his bowl.

Removing the exterior form.

Having established an exterior shape she was pleased with, Elisabeth progressed to hollowing her bowl, which will be a mortar that she plans to use in her own kitchen.

Elisabeth hollows her first bowl.

Jean-François turned a Styrofoam form for his own thin cement bowl, of a conical shape.

Jean-François turns a Styrofoam form.

The following day, Saturday, was to be community day, with the shop open to visitors, so we stopped at around 3 p.m. to meet and plan our open-shop activities. Jean-François cleaned himself up a little for the meeting.

Jean-François blows out the shavings.

Siegfried brought a cheesecake to grease the discussion.

Siegfried cuts a cheesecake.

We decided to each do our own thing and let questions and the interests of visitors determine the flow of our activities. After the meeting, we took a few hours to clean the shop up, shoveling and sweeping shavings, clearing space for Lesya to dance in, tidying up our benches, etc. And Tina came with Jessica from the Wood Turning Center to deliver beverages, books, and T shirts in preparation for the next day.

Thursday, July 12

I finally burned the shavings out of my cement experiment. The outer shape didn’t work out, but I like the interior.

I burn the shavings from my cement experiment.

Jean-François wasn’t quite fully back on his feet yet, but that didn’t stop him from turning. He continued work on his Chinese elm bowls.

Jean-François sits to turn.

Peter opened one face of his poured form to see how it was setting. (This photo was taken before he opened it.)

Peter's form.

Mark Sfirri came by for a visit and also showed us two wonderful slide presentations: one on the Canadian turner Stephen Hogbin, the other on Wharton Esherick.

Mark and Elisabeth look at Jean-François's work.

Mark talks with Peter and Siegfried.

While everyone else was out of the shop for lunch, Jane and I decided that, with one face removed, Peter’s poured concrete form looked like a fireplace. We decided to light a fire in it and put some art on the mantel.

The concrete fireplace.

Jane caught me posing badly.

Aristocrat leaning on the mantel? Not.

And when the group came back from lunch, almost everyone wanted to pose for a portrait.

Jean-François warms his feet.

Elisabeth reads The Woodturner's Bible.

Mark warms his hands.

So does Siegfried.

Jane warms her tush.

Afterward, Elisabeth continued her turning lessons with me. I’ve decided to hire her as my stunt double.

Elisabeth begins to turn her very first piece.

I have neglected Siegfried over the last couple of days and don’t have photos, but today he turned Styroform forms and poured a thin cement bowl with Peter, and he has been finishing the vessels for his collaborative piece with Peter.

Despite the fun of the fireplace, I badly needed to blow off steam this night, so I had a riotous night out with Jane and Co. in Old City, at the end of which I purchased the lovely glasses you have already seen. Too much blah blah blog and not enough play can make Lynne a very tense girl.

Wednesday, July 11

After we returned from our visit to the Esherick Museum and Brad Smith, we were eager to get to work. The first order of business was opening Jane’s form to see how her experimental concrete table leg came out. Check out the nice wood grain pattern left by the plywood form.

Jane's experimental concrete table leg.

Jean-François set about screening the red dirt he collected at Brad Smith’s.

Jean-François screens dirt.

Sean returned to carving.

Sean carves a new piece.

Jean-François then began to exact his revenge on the Chinese elm log that broke his toe. He turned it,

Jean-François's elm bowl.

textured it on multiple centers, then burned it.

Off-center texturing.Burning.

I caught Peter (“I don’t turn anymore”) on the lathe, where he was turning elements to use in casting a base for his collaboration with Siegfried. Below, he is positioning the turned elements on part of the form, then assembling the form. The turned elements will allow cables to be attached after the concrete has set.


Peter assembles the form.

Peter used threaded rod for reinforcement inside the form, attaching them to the turned elements and to vertical rods in the uprights.

Threaded rods used as reinforcement inside the form.

Peter mixes the concrete.

Peter taps the almost-full form to even the concrete and release bubbles.

Brad Smith’s studio (Wednesday, July 11)

On the way back from the Esherick Museum, we stopped by the studio of a furniture maker that Peter knows, Brad Smith, of Bradford Woodworking. He makes furniture from turned axe handles, croquet mallet handles, pitchforks, and more, and he has two 100-year-old-plus lathes to do his turning.

Stacked stools and bedposts.

Detail of pitchfork bench.

Pitchfork tables.

This belt-driven lathe duplicates the form installed in the foreground. By using a set of dado blades as the cutter, Brad gets the ridge pattern characteristic of the axe handles he uses in his furniture.

Turning axe handles.

The axe handle being turned.

As we were preparing to leave Brad’s place, Jean-François noticed the red dirt bared by an excavator and collected some to try in a finish.

Jean-Françoiso collects some red dirt.

Wharton Esherick Museum (Wednesday, July 11)

We visited the Wharton Esherick Museum in Paoli, PA, on Wednesday. If you don’t know who Wharton Esherick, “Dean of American Craftsmen,” is, get thee to Google and learn all you can. I’m about out of words, so (for now at least) I’m going to leave it to you to find out about the images shown below.

Esherick's studio.

The beams for the roof of the garage shown below were badly warped, so instead of scrapping them or trying to straighten them, he split them and used the curve in forming the roof.

Garage with hyperbolic paraboloid roof.

Bench, music stand, and stools.

Paul shows us the hammer handle chair.

The famous staircase.


'The Kiss.'

Horse sculpture.

Sconce and maquette.

Library stool.

'The Opera Singer.'

After the tour, we had a lovely lunch with Rob Leonard, the museum director, and Paul, our guide, out on the deck. Paul had to leave and, no doubt out of habit, locked the deck door behind him, leaving us stranded out on the deck. Rob was ready to leap to our rescue, but even six-foot-five Peter balked at the drop to the stairs below. Fortunately, reason prevailed, and Rob had Elisabeth use her cell phone to call Esherick’s daughter and son-in-law, who live on the property, to come release us.

Rob to the rescue.Rob to the rescue.

That’s Rob Leonard in the back row behind Siegfried.

In front of the studio with Rob.

Tuesday, July 10

This was our one day back in the shop between trips, and it was a long one.

As I noted in a previous post, Elisabeth and Lesya both got turning lessons, Elisabeth from Siegfried first, and both of them from me later (with good advice from Jean-François). I didn’t get to photograph Lesya turning, because I was busy teaching her, but she managed to play around a little with beads and coves.

Siegfried gives Elisabeth a turning lesson.

Elisabeth also just spent some time with us individually and collectively and got to know each of us a little more.

Lesya chose one piece from Sean (what I’ve been calling “the mascot”) and my multiaxis cherry bowl as focal points from which to begin developing dances. I took multiple photos of the two pieces and printed them out for her to take with her.

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.

Jean-François experiments with finishes.

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.

Jane builds a concrete form.

The wire mesh suspended in Jane's form.

Mixing the concrete.

Beginning the pour.

Peter taps to release bubbles.