Who Do You Turn For?

 When I asked this question of several club members the first answer given by all of them was “Myself”.

Fair enough, I thought. When I probed further this answer was clarified to mean “I wouldn’t make anything I didn’t want to”. Further probing revealed that we all show our work to others and implicitly seek their approval for our work or advice on how we may improve on it.

So, although we all carry out turning for our own satisfaction, we also like to do work which is appreciated by a wider public.

This is subtlety different from turning only to please ourselves. We turn items which we like to think will meet the approval of a wider audience. We may in fact make turnings for a specific audience.

Where am I heading with this seemingly rambling post?

Consider if you will decorated work. I’ve been playing with spirit stain, acrylic paint and gesso finishes recently and the most common reaction I get from most woodturners is “Oh, I like to see the wood”. Followed by “I don’t like decorated work”.

Okay, I’ve established that we all work to please ourselves but, that we also like the endorsement of others. So why shouldn’t we make pieces with other folk in mind? I’m not saying that we should turn pieces we ourselves don’t feel comfortable with. Just that there is a case for broadening our repertoire.

Interestingly, when asked why we turn, no one answered “to please other turners”.

Other turners are mainly, if not the only, ones who told me “I like to see the wood”. Many comments I get from viewers of decorated wood are along the lines of “Is it really wood?” I regard this as a compliment since I have taken one medium and used it to provoke curiosity in the viewer who perhaps thought it was made from another material.  

This hobby of ours it seems is popular with older men. Would it be unreasonable to encourage more than the few female practitioners we have among us along with younger people? These are the people who will carry the art and craft of woodturning  into the future. These are the very people who see decorated woodturnings in galleries and say “Hey, I like that. Is it really made of wood?”

I love to see a well turned bowl with great grain and figure, I love to see a well proportioned vase. I will work on these pieces to improve my techniques and finishes but will continue to explore ways of pleasing a wider audience. I will endeavour to provoke a reaction with the work I do. Not all of it will be complimentary I’m sure. But I will learn from the feedback I receive.

As ever, I look forward to and welcome your comments on these random thoughts of this old man.