June 2015 Demo
“SWAT Demo - Natural Edged Bowl”
I have been an avid woodturner for 60 years, beginning in Colorado City, TX high school. I took an interest in the lathe to my shop teacher’s delight. He was an avid turner and was eager to pass his considerable knowledge on. This was the days before “free form” turning was conceived so I was trained in the “English/Conventional” craft which had strict rules for every aspect of turning, developed over hundreds of years,. The craftsman did NOT deviate from this narrow path. Most turnings were related to furniture, lamp bases and sometimes a simple functional bowl. I enjoyed lathe work and made a multitude of chairs, tables, beds and other turnings; all following the highly restrictive, exacting method of the day.
My older brother, Gary, invited me to a weekend gathering of a few turners, 15 or so guys. Clay Foster, David Ellsworth and a few others were doing something unheard of; freeform, artistic turning. These few artisans were happy to show the rest of us radical new techniques, designs, vessel shapes and types. Mostly they taught us to think about our craft in different ways, freeing our minds.
This meeting was at the beginning of the formation of the AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF WOODTURNERS. Little did any of know this would lead the formation local clubs in every state, regional and national symposiums, a movement leading to more than 7000 turners and a respected art form.
I enthusiastically adopted this new freeform method of turning/thinking. I now rarely use kiln dried wood. I enjoy using found woods. I salvage wood from fireplace piles, disposal yards, arborist, road side piles, and development sites; anywhere wood being discarded. I take great joy in transforming found wood into a vessel displaying unusual grain patterns. Or taking decaying (splatted) wood and exposing the wonderful patterns nature has produced. Frequently a discarded, ugly wood chunk will be beautiful inside. One never knows what lies inside a piece of wood. The challenge to the Turner is to reflect the wood in its best form and beauty. The dead cast off, unwanted and otherwise useless wood, is given new form, new life and desirability. The process has given me tranquility, reflection, self-satisfaction and joy. Hopefully the finished vessel holds something special for the new owner. Often I am ask; “What do you put in it?” My response is simply; I have put a lot of love into it, you put whatever you want to.
LARRY D. ROBERTS