This past weekend I made my third annual trip to the Matisho Memorial Cancer Benefit at Waldheim, about 40 minutes north of Saskatoon. This great event brings together woodturners from across the province and beyond to raise money for cancer research. This year the event moved to a great new venue at Menno Industries. The larger venue allowed everyone to work in the same room without being crowded, neither of which were possible at the old venue. I was also able to back my truck right into the shop to unload my lathe and all the other (way too much) stuff I brought.
For this year's project I chose a piece of apple crotch from a tree that I cut down last summer. Because of the number of experienced turners that come out every year that are available for advice I like to do something a little above my level of experience. Although I've turned natural edged bowls before this piece of wood was a different shape than anything else I've done and that meant that I would be turning a lot more air than I was used to.
As you can see this piece of wood is a Y shape and making it round requires a lot of wood removal. I could have taken it to the bandsaw to round it off a little but the irregular surface meant that it would have been difficult to keep it parallel to the blade. I didn't want it to catch and break the blade, or worse, so I spent the morning rough turning the bottom of the bowl.
After lunch I changed the pace and turned a pen from a blank I had made the night before.
These were the first blanks to come out of the new molds I had made. I'll make a post about them another time.
After that I went back to work on the bowl. I turned it around so I could grab the tenon on the bottom with the chuck, and started to hollow the inside. I'm not going to bore you with any pictures of this part of the day because, frankly, I got carried away and forgot to take any. I do that a lot. Not really sure if this blog is better or worse for it.
By the way, I wasn't there by myself. There were about fifty of us there the first day, covering the complete spectrum of age and experience. I like to flatter myself by thinking I'm at about the middle of both.
By the way, the General lathes to the left were all supplied by our local Lee Valley. They even go so far as to make sure they don't schedule any tuning classes on the same weekend. I just thought such great support was worth a mention.
One of the cornerstones of the Matisho Memorial is education. The event grew from a class that was held at Larry's shop. Sharing knowledge and encouraging the next generation of turners is a big part of the weekend.
As the day wore down, some of the checks that my wood had started with turned into cracks. I decided to use some Amazing Casting Resin to fill them. Some handy duct tape on the inside of the bowl would keep it from running through.
I mixed in a little black dye and left it overnight.
The next morning I started off by making a few pen blanks with the amazing casting resin and my pen molds, and wound up giving a demonstration to a few curious onlookers. That's another good thing about this event, there's no pressure to get anything done. You can take a break whenever you want, wander around and see what others are doing, or just hang out and chat. A few people didn't do any turning at all but just decorated items they had already made.
|This is clearly not my work.|
While my pen blanks set up I went back to work on my bowl. It had changed shape a bit overnight as the wood dried and the resin had not dried smooth so I needed to make it nice and round again. Of course the parts that needed the most work were out at the edge of the bowl where I was mostly turning air. A steady hand and a lot of caution were required. I also spun the bowl as fast as was reasonable so the tool was touching wood as often as possible.
The inside was about to the point where it was ready to sand so I switched to the outside. Again, caution was required as I worked my way from the bottom to the outside edge. It was almost lunch time and I was nearly there when I felt, as much as heard, the BANG!
There wasn't much else to do but take a deep breath and break for lunch. That or go off by myself and cry. There were too many kids around to swear. One thing I didn't do, though is toss the pieces in the trash. There was too much time invested in it. I have plans. It has simply changed from craft to art.
At lunch time we were joined by Larry Matisho's son with his wife and daughters. When I first joined the Guild about 10 years ago I took my first turning class from Larry. Although I had had a lathe for over 20 years at that point, I have to admit I had no idea how to use it. Larry gave me the basics to really use the tools to their full advantage.
After lunch I was going to turn some pens and I decided to offer a couple of the blanks I had made earlier to some of the kids that were turning pens. I wandered over to where they were working and that is how, by the luck of being in the right place at the right time, I got to give Larry's granddaughters their first lesson in turning. It was very special to be able to tell them that I had learned from their grandfather.
Thankyou, Robin and Emily, for a moment I won't soon forget.