Evolution #2: Making "new things"

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Blog entry by StevenAntonucci posted 08-18-2008 01:23 AM 1305 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Entering the realm... Part 2 of Evolution series Part 3: Digging yourself out of a turner's rut »

As a woodturner, I have seen my work go from about being about to about being more complex. I don’t quite know what happened to make that change, but I just simply lost the interest (for now) in making simple things.

I found it pretty funny, since I began turning for the exact opposite reason. I could go to the lathe and make something that was pretty nice (by my standards at that time) in an hour. I had started in woodworking via the traditional means of making furniture and boxes, and I was frustrated that you had all of these things you needed (tools, wood, finish) to be “just so” or the finished product would be less than perfect. As a frugal person, spending a lot of time and money to make something that I didn’t love seemed pretty stupid.

So I started turning wood for the very simple reason that it was fast. And the wood was free (it grows on trees where I live :-)! How can you beat free and fast?! I made a few hundred bowls and a few hundred hollowforms and probably a hundred pens. I bought all kinds of books and studied others work to the point where I could probably produce most of it.

Then, a couple of things happened. The first was simple boredom. I could turn another bowl, but why? I have stacks of them scattered throughout the house, and most of the people I know also do too.Secondly, I went to few events and saw other people’s work, and realized that there were a few hundred guys who were stuck in a rut like I was- producing good, but boring stuff. And then there were a few that weren’t…

A couple of pretty well know turners made comments that changed my perception of my own work. Granted, I use the word work to describe what I do for fun in my garage, but I still think of it as a form of work because I do work at getting better at this craft.

The first turners was Keith Tompkins, who told me that until I put something personal in my work, it would never truly be mine. For an “artist” to be connected to the work, it does require something intimate about that person to be present and I needed to think about what makes me… me.

The second turner was Harvey Fein, who saw one of my pieces, and thought it was a great copy of another well known turner’s work. I contacted that turner, and he said that he thought the work was good, but also was missing the connection to my soul. Without MY personal experience in the work, I would always have this problem.

What does this have to do with time? Well, it seems that it takes me a lot longer to get finished with my “work” these days. Most pieces have at least 6-10 hours on the lathe, and at least as many hours off the lathe in finishing. What used to be “how many things can I make today?” is now “how many steps on this one (or more pieces) can I complete today?” Occasionally, I’ll probably turn a basic bowl or something, perhaps as a gift or just because, but I don’t know if I’ll ever look at my time in the shop the same way again.

-- Steven

3 comments so far

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 5052 days

#1 posted 08-18-2008 04:45 AM

Great post spoken from your heart. You certainly have made me look deeper into my soul. I have been thinking about similar issues lately. I am trying to push my skills and my designs in new directions. I certainly have a long way to go. Thanks for pushing down the right path. Please share some of your pieces so I may get a glimpse of your soul. Thanks Steven!

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View SteveKorz's profile


2140 posts in 4999 days

#2 posted 08-18-2008 04:48 AM

Wow. There is a lot of truth in this read. Great post…

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Rustic's profile


3260 posts in 4881 days

#3 posted 08-18-2008 04:56 AM

Holy Smokes man what a revelation. Don’t lose that. I realized in my short time as a trrue woodworker that I do it because I love it and try to put a little o me into my work.

Thanks for the reminder as I was starting to head down that lifeless path. Keep making love out of sawdust.

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

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