Turning as a Canvas

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Project by StevenAntonucci posted 01-21-2010 04:28 AM 2393 views 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I think there has been a fair amount of disucssion in the turning world about what a turning is. At some point, the piece will come off of the lathe, and there may be some additional work that takes place beyond the lathe. We might question whether or not the work is still a turning.

Here is an example of such a work. To this point in time, all of the work was created on the lathe. The vessel was turned from end grain cherry, and is about 14” tall. I used the lathe to index all of the texture work, but it was not cut with conventional tools. Instead, the surface texture was created with a King Arthur cutter in an angle grinder. So we start down that slope of turning vs. something else…

Additionally, I planned to scorch the outer surface, and potentially do some metal patina surface treatment. Does the work become less of turning because I work on it off of the lathe? Is there some “formula” when something becomes less of a turning and more of something else? Does it need to retain it’s “turned identity’ to still be a turning?

Comments welcome.

-- Steven

18 comments so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18672 posts in 4188 days

#1 posted 01-21-2010 04:54 AM

Boy Oh Boy, way too deep for me:-)) Better post that in a forum to get it answered.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 4279 days

#2 posted 01-21-2010 05:01 AM

Hi Steven,

I think the bigger question is why “it” has to be classified as a turning at all. Why does it also have to include the type of wood in it’s description. Did Picasso or any other artist get chastised for not including canvas or board in their title? If they did, did they care? If we are trying to create art pieces then get rid of the “turned wood” mentality and let it be art for art’s sake.


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

View StevenAntonucci's profile


355 posts in 4450 days

#3 posted 01-21-2010 05:30 AM


Not sure I need to classify “it” as a turning, or to be identified as a turner myself. However, I do believe that there is a line that transcends the medium of woodturning into wood art. To me, woodturning is focused on creating work (or art) with a lathe. Wood art cares less about how the object was made.

If “it” (which I like as a description, since it adds no weigh or values) was not created on a lathe, whatever it is probably can be better described with some other term than woodturning. If “it” isn’t made of wood, does it make any sense to call it “woodturning”? Just food for thought…


It’s going to get deeper :-)

-- Steven

View Dudley's profile


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#4 posted 01-21-2010 06:22 AM


-- Dudley Young USN Retired. Sebastian, Fl.

View jaedwards575's profile


90 posts in 3569 days

#5 posted 01-21-2010 06:23 AM

You just made me realize that I do not have hardwood floors in my house. They are bamboo, which is a grass. Ive been living a lie, but my hardgrass floors are really nice.

-- Aaron Possom Town, TN

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1251 posts in 4511 days

#6 posted 01-21-2010 06:23 AM


Another great project. You continue to push yourself (and us) as well as inspire. To me, you and a lot of the NJ Woodturners, create “art” on many of the projects. In this case, I think turning is just one step in the overall process which includes carving. Would we call this a carving?

When I see pieces like this, I think of it as art vs a turning. Does Grahme Priddle makes art or turnings? (His shell design for example). Starts as a turning but morphs into art as more process steps are added.

Also, when I see items like this, I think, Wow, that’s very interesting and how was that made? If I reverse engineer it, how would I make it? What would I do different? BAM, the mind starts moving and process steps all over the place.

Looking forward to the finished art form complete with patina.

-- Bob A in NJ

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4089 days

#7 posted 01-21-2010 06:26 AM

Unusual one of a kind

View mmh's profile


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#8 posted 01-21-2010 10:17 AM

You’re definately trying to push the envelope with your techniques. That’s all part of the challenge and fun of working with your hands. Once you stop trying to do things differently or against tradition, it becomes boring. Keep up the good work!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View stefang's profile


16752 posts in 3846 days

#9 posted 01-21-2010 12:15 PM

A very nice piece. I would love to see it when finished. From what you say, It seems to me that you either have some purist tendencies or are concerned about it. I can understand this a little as it is easy to think that way and a lot more challenging too. I guess it has something to do with identity. Whether you are a turner or a general woodworker. I always like to think of myself as a general woodworker who uses the lathe and many other tools to shape and join wood. I find this less limiting psychologically. Am I in the ballpark here, or have I misunderstood?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View hunter71's profile


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#10 posted 01-21-2010 01:29 PM

I don’t think even the “Made in China” label will work here.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View StevenAntonucci's profile


355 posts in 4450 days

#11 posted 01-21-2010 03:19 PM

Bamboo is a perfect example of the “dumbing down’ aspect of my original post. Folks might struggle with another category called “alternative materials”, so the flooring industry just dumb it down for everyone by calling it a “hardwood”. The world of wooden art and turning are also going through a similar identity crisis and time will tell…

I started thinking of myself as a woodworker, and then a woodturner, but now I don’t know exactly what the proper term is? Perhaps it’s artist, and wood is just the medium as opposed to being so prominent in the title. Perhaps, it is no longer about the wood, but about my visions and ability to execute them in whatever medium I choose?

(Wow. I am starting to talk like an artist…I guess I am going to have to convert the shop into a studio!)

-- Steven

View stefang's profile


16752 posts in 3846 days

#12 posted 01-21-2010 03:45 PM

Why not call yourself an artist? If your work is unique and as far as I can see a lot better than many others who call themselves artists. Regardless, I don’t like placing people in boxes. Sometimes even people like me come up with something artistic, but very seldom. I always think of an artist as a person who is creative on a continuing basis, not just one or two projects or repeating the same project a zillion times. That’s my take on it, but I’m sure there are lots of different opinions on this.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Bullet's profile


150 posts in 3841 days

#13 posted 01-21-2010 03:45 PM

Interesting question. One that you could ponder for a lifetime. I guess it depends on not how, but why… Turning can be a method used to get a finished product out – kind of Machiavellian. If it’s the best technique, use it. But look at Trifern’s work – to me, the mastery of the tool itself is what makes it so special – and appreciated.

My head hurts…

-- Anything is possible when you have no idea what you're talking about.

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10635 posts in 4758 days

#14 posted 01-21-2010 04:33 PM

I see turnings as sculptures, with wood being the general medium. The approach to the end product doesn’t matter. I too have tried using the Lancelot on the inside surface of a large cherry bowl. It never occured to me that I was doing anything other than turning. Just like Stephan Hatch painting his platters with inlace and inlay, it doesn’t change the fact he turned the platter, all he did was enhance the turning. Thats all you are doing with the Lancelot. It is still a turning. Just part of the process of making your sculpture.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View David's profile


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#15 posted 01-21-2010 08:59 PM

Google “Rose Engine” ~ is that turning? I’d love to have you blog this: very nice work!

-- [email protected]

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