The urge to make something (usually a mess) is one that I’ve had ever since I was in a sewing club when I was 4 years old and made a passable Santa-moon with wool and some punched plastic. I’d use old scraps of fabric and blunt needles from Mum’s sewing stash and would practice designs and stitches until I ran out of thread and/or patience. I do not have much patience and I’m very much an instant gratification gal – bread making has been the biggest challenge mainly due to the waiting for it to rise process is not one I’m happy with.
Having said that, I also don’t think myself to be particularly artistic or creative. My dad is an artist in the true sense of the word: he paints gorgeous watercolours and acrylic landscapes for people who has commissioned paintings and the majority of the pictures we have in our house and at my parents are ones my dad has painted. My youngest brother is also very arty and mum? Well, she sews, she makes curtains, re-upholstered furniture, makes bags and generally knows the sewing machine inside and out. I have a sewing machine and can use it (after Husband gave me a crash course and came to my aid several hundred times), I cross stitch and I crochet. I’ve made a solitary patchwork blanket that has more wonky seams and misaligned edges than is beautiful and took me over 3 years to actually get around to starting and completing. Husband is also very artistic. I have several drawings that he has done, he crochets (I have a crocheted fox, which I adore) and is rather handy with a chisel and a lathe.
Last weekend we ventured down the M1 to Coventry for the UK and Ireland Woodturning Symposium – most people I know wanted to know what on earth I was wittering on about when I told them about and then nodded slowly – wood turning is not hot on the topic list of conversation it would seem. It was the first year that the Symposium was running and was the brain child of one Mike Waldt who originally thought it would be nice to have a pie and a pint with a few wood turners somewhere fairly centrally in the country. Along with another wood turner, Martin Saban-Smith, they worked for 9 months to get the idea into reality and by all accounts, it was better than either of them had hoped and everyone had a fabulous time.
The only reason I know of these people, is due to having been introduced to their You Tube videos by Husband. Both are very talented wood turners and artists working with wood and my interest that was originally piqued by Husband’s lathe adventures has been firmly cemented. I love seeing the projects come out of my garage and I’m very lucky that I get to use the stuff that he makes; currently I have bowl that is serving as a yarn bowl while I work on a new blanket and the pick of 15 different crochet hooks. Did I mention I was really lucky??
While we were at the Symposium I had the opportunity to talk to one of the people who I’ve seen on You Tube, Chris Fisher. Chris’s channel is called The Blind Woodturner, because he is blind and he is a woodturner. We got the chance to say hello to him and his wife at the Saturday session after all the demonstrations had finished and I had to ask him something that was probably the most asked question of all time, so Chris, I apologise if I was another in a long line to ask! I was really intrigued as to how he turns when he can’t see what he’s working on. I’m massively short-sighted and without my glasses, I struggle to see the TV, the screen on my phone or the pages in a book so I have no flipping idea how I’d be able to turn wood without them, let alone without any sight at all. Chris was exceptionally patient with my bumbling around trying to find the right words and I came away feeling a bit star struck. He explained how he works by judging the sound of the wood and the tools, how he takes a couple of sweeps along the tool rest to judge the length and how touch plays such a vital role in his work.
While we were talking, I mentioned how much I had enjoyed the day and also how much I loved seeing the pieces my husband was making and Chris asked the question why hadn’t I had a go yet. I had no sensible answer other than I was scared. Scared of taking a chance, scared of messing up, scared of trying something new. I got the feeling that this cut no mustard with Chris and he challenged me to come back next year as a woodturner and to just have a go and never mind if it didn’t go right the first time. He said that 2016 would be the year that Husband and I would share the work space and would become a turning team. Whether this will actually happen is yet to be seen – but I do want to fulfil the desire to intrude on Husband’s work space and try turning something without squealing or getting worried that I’ll mess up or break something. Husband is a good teacher and I trust him implicitly to show me how to turn safely.
I may not be a great painter and my stick men have some serious orthopaedic issues but I can try my hand with a chisel and a piece of pine. I’ll let you know how it goes, but if you hear of a couple involved in a tragic accident involving a lathe, it’s been nice knowing you!
Chris also sells his turned pens at Speed of Sight on their website. Each one is unique and the proceeds help the charity to continue allowing blind and visually impaired people experience the thrill of motor sports. http://www.speedofsight.org/shop.php