My first time behind a lathe was during college, where in 2013 I took a one credit intensive and turned a small six-inch oak bowl. The class was fun, and I really liked the lathe, but that was my only real exposure to a lathe. In the winter of 2014, I got my first lathe, a Nova 16-24. I turned all sorts of small pieces and one-off trinkets. This was not enough to scratch the itch, and I started turning bowls. Not a problem for the first ten or so, but then what. As they stacked up I thought what to do with them all.
With a stack of bowls forming, I decided to sell a few. I opened an Etsy account, and sold a few pieces. I was offered an opportunity to do a small craft event and although I did not have many things to bring with me, I sold a fair amount. However, I was still making more than I was selling, so I decided to apply to more craft shows. As I did more shows, I started to step my game up and do bigger and nicer pieces, but there was always one nagging question I never had a good answer to, “Do you have any salad bowls?” The answer was typically no, and that was something I wanted to change
Large bowls were always my end goal, but there were challenges that I needed to overcome. The first was the material. Wood from the lumberyard is never thick enough to do a full salad bowl. If I wanted to turn bigger bowls I was going to need to start doing greenwood bowls and starting with raw logs rather than lumber. The other issue was that my tools were not up to snuff. My lathe had the capacity for sixteen-inch bowls, but that was more of a bragging right than effective number as large blanks were too unwieldy to safely turn. The material problem was easy to solve, get out the chainsaw and start cutting my own blanks. Luckily enough for me, the local craigslist is filled with people who are willing to give wood away for free if you can get it. Wood was covered, but the lathe was still under-powered and unable to turn big pieces. In the spring of 2017 I picked up my big yellow monster and finally put that issue to rest. My Powermatic 35-20 allows me to turn up to a 20” bowl and 30” platters. With this upgrade I have been making things as small as bottle stoppers to as large as serving bowls for your biggest occasions.
The journey is far from over and as I explore and learn new techniques, I continually expand the areas where my work goes. Life is a journey of learning and growing and that is something I display through my work.