I first fell in love with wood turning as a 12-year old boy when I was attending a British public school. The wood shop class included wood turning, but shortly after I started using the lathe, the particular teacher was absent for several weeks so I had the opportunity to experiment by myself (legal liability was not an issue back then!)
Even today, I have one of the bowls I turned back in 1957 on my office desk (ok, so it's full of plastic paper clips, but...). In 2005, during one particularly boring meeting in my office, I found myself staring at this bowl and the idea started to form: "What if I could get back into wood turning?"
The idea would simply not go away. So I took some lessons with the legendary Bob Tuck, a local wood turner here in Portland, and I was hooked. Since then I've taken classes from people such as Richard Raffan (from Australia), Jimmy Clewes (A fellow Yorkshire man - Ayup, lad!), and Eli Avisera (from Jerusalem). Very different styles, very different approaches, but all equally talented.
The thing I love the most is the immediacy of wood turning and the ability to transform what would otherwise be firewood into useful, beautiful objects.
My fascination with wood turning is to find the fewest lines or curves to make something beautiful to the eye and beautiful to the touch. I've seen customers of mine pick up one of my turnings, caress it with their hands and then ask, "What's it for?" They seem strangely surprised when I say, "It's for doing just what you are already doing with it!" Of course, sometimes they will pick up an obviously functional item like a bowl, they won't ask what's for, but they just start stroking the wood. They they put it down without a word. Almost always they smile.
I was born in Sheffield in England (think back to the movie, "The Full Monty"), and I have also lived in countries such as France, Canada, and Northern California (it really is a separate country) and now make my home with Kay Kitagawa, in Portland, Oregon in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
Copyright © Andy Johnson-Laird, 2008
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