POP Excellence Award

I am proud to say that I received a POP Excellence Award at the 2014 symposium of the American Association of Woodturners, held in Phoenix in June. I was one of five recipients chosen for the award by the Professional Outreach Program. Especially exciting to me is that, whereas the other awards were given for single pieces, mine was awarded for the body of work I had on exhibit: six pieces, shown below.

The award-winning works are highlighted in the October issue of American Woodturner, inside the front cover.

At the symposium I also presented “Turn a Blind Eye,” a program about how to turn more safely, and spoke on “How to Make a Great Demonstration,” a panel with David Ellsworth and Andi Wolfe.

Work by Lynne Yamaguchi awarded a 2014 POP Excellence Award. Photo by Andi Wolfe.

Back row, from left: “Ashes to Ashes,” bleached and sandblasted ash; “Crackalicious,” eucalyptus; “Filled to the Brim,” spalted curly maple. Front row, from left: “It Comes in Waves,” bubinga; walnut bowl; “His,” walnut. Photo by Andi Wolfe, copyright 2014.

My tale of survival


The June issue of American Woodturner featured “Safety Matters: From the Eye of a Survivor,” an article I wrote describing my accident and discussing some of what I learned afterward about protecting myself. Please feel free to share it with any woodturners you know; I am hoping that it will save others from injury. It was accompanied by this exercise for determining your own risk at the lathe, along with a table comparing risk values.

DesertLeaf article

DesertLeaf, January 2014 cover.

DesertLeaf, January 2014.

The DesertLeaf has just published a 3-page article about me in the current (January 2014) issue. You can read the issue online here; the article, “Lynne Yamaguchi: Flawed Beauty,” by Lorraine A. DarConte, starts on page 56 (it’s the column called “L’Art Pour L’Art”). The DesertLeaf is a monthly publication for the Catalina Foothills area of Tucson.

A setback

The retina specialist believes the retina is detaching, based on what the ultrasound is showing. She has scheduled me for surgery next Tuesday morning to try to reattach the retina. In the process, she will remove the vitreous gel from the eyeball and replace it with either a silicone oil or a gas bubble to hold the retina in place (vitrectomy) and will put a band around the eye to counter the stress that is causing the retina to detach (scleral buckle). While she is operating she will also remove the displaced lens, since it is complicating the picture and would have to be replaced surgically down the road anyway. She is certain that I will lose some vision; how much is unknown. I’m still focused on a full recovery, even if it takes a bit longer than expected. Keep those positive thoughts and images coming, folks! And thank you! I ardently thank you!

A sober assessment

After two doctor visits yesterday, I have a sobering, realistic assessment of where I stand. This isn’t going to be a miraculous sprint to a triumphant recovery. Rather, it will be a long, uncertain, prayer-filled crawl to recovery.

My surgeon says I will need at least one more surgery to get my face right, possibly more. My lower eyelid, at least, isn’t going to make it intact. I hadn’t understood that my “soft food” diet instructions were not just about comfort: the bone above my teeth on the left side is fractured, so I can’t be applying any pressure there. I really did a number on my face; I’m lucky the surgeon was able to piece it together as well as he has. There is damage to at least one of the nerves to my face. This morning, though, I am able to report that the damage isn’t permanent! I woke up with diminishing numbness where there had been no feeling at all! It will be these tiny shifts that will mark the path to recovery.

My retina is still obscured by hemorrhaging inside the eyeball, and there appears to be hemorrhaging beneath the retina as well. It will likely be weeks of waiting and watching before we can know what’s what.

My approach is going to be cellular: focus on every little cell getting healed and building from there.

On the plus side, my Halloween costume this year ought to win some awards!

An accident

I had a terrible accident with my lathe last Friday afternoon, September 21. A large (10-inch-diameter), heavy, partially hollowed mesquite vessel came apart while rotating at about 1200 rpm (too fast, I know). I knew the wood was cracked, and I had wrapped the outside with duct tape, but apparently not enough to hold it together. I didn’t even get a catch, wasn’t even touching a tool to the wood: the crack just gave. The vessel broke into three pieces; I think one piece split when it hit the wall. The piece that hit me weighs a little over a kilogram. I had removed my faceshield, so only my half-mask respirator and glasses (with polycarbonate lenses) were between me and the wood. Pretty much all of the bones in the left half of my face were fractured. My jaw doesn’t seem to have been injured. My eyeball did not rupture.

Surgery the following day repaired the bone damage. I lucked out in having as a surgeon one of the doctors who pieced Gabrielle Gifford’s eye orbit back together. He used four titanium plates to reconstruct my face, and he also stitched my eyelids back together. I’m told I look “100% better” than before the surgery, so he did a great job. And he did the surgery through the roof of my mouth, so there won’t be any scarring apart from my eyelids. Remarkable! The ophthamologist who saw me presurgery and two days after was astonished at how good I looked. He had expected me to be swollen to the size of a watermelon, based on my presurgery state. I can talk and eat soft food with small bites, and my energy level is good and improving daily.

I’ve since learned that the lens in my left eye has been displaced, which will require surgery to correct. The real question is whether the retina and optic nerve are damaged, for concussive damage to them would not be reparable. There is still too much blood in the eye to see what’s going on, so it may be a few weeks before I know if my vision can be restored. I am hopeful, because when the accident first happened, I couldn’t see anything. After the surgery, I could see some light, and by the next day, I could detect motion as well, with a black hole in the center of everything; that’s the holding status of my vision for now. So, please, concentrate any positive thoughts you want to send me on my having an attached, intact retina and healthy optic nerve; this will offer me the best chance at full recovery.

Thank you so much for your prayers and positive wishes. Your individual and collective support means so much to me. I have high hopes for full recovery, thanks to all your good wishes.

Arizona Daily Star article

The Arizona Daily Star featured a story on me on Friday, August 12; read it here. Reporter Patty Machelor interviewed me and spoke to a few of my collectors for the story, and photographer Benny Sanders took some shots of me in my studio (be sure to click on the Image tag above the story to see them all).

Yes, I know this post is way late, but what can I say? I was on vacation when the article came out.