Totally Turning 2013
Trying to figure out what to see at this past weekend’s Totally Turning symposium in Saratoga Springs was like trying to decipher the Daily Racing Form. The field included world famous woodturners Mike Mahoney, Binh Pho and Ernie Conover along with great regional and local talent. The Totally Turning website did a good job of listing the demonstration schedule along with bios of each presenter, and spending some time helped me decide who were the “must sees.”
Mike Mahoney is an accomplished pro and his bowl coring demonstration helped convinced me to purchase some of the components of the Kelton system. Mike is a natural entertainer and he can turn a 16 inch green calabash bowl in under 90 minutes while combining lessons on tool grinds with hilarious stories about his fellow woodturners. Ernie Conover’s practical knowledge of wood, tools and processes is incredible and he is always gracious, taking the time to thank the audience for their attention. I regret not having more time to sit in on Giles Gilson’s approach to making models to test his designs. Giles’ work is part of major collections including the Smithsonian Institute, The Metropolitan Museum, and the Boston Museum of Fine Art, and he is always willing to share his vision.
The Instant Gallery is always popular, and hundreds of turned pieces were displayed in an atrium flooded with natural light. I especially liked the work by Andrew Finnigan and Michael Foster. After admiring Foster’s intricate carving, it came as no surprise he is a dentist, and he told me woodturning is his passion and creative outlet. “I have been turning for 24 years and have gone through several phases, including craft type items and segmented work, but most of my recent work is math inspired.”
A Woodworkers Event
Totally Turning runs concurrently with the Northeastern Woodworkers Association’s Woodworkers Showcase, and the combined event draws scores of vendors to Saratoga’s City Center. You can find dealers in exotic woods, fine tools, accessories and “necessities” for every woodworking taste and discipline. A lot of professionals’ design and manufacture their own tools and it’s hard to resist a good sales pitch from the guy who makes it look so easy. And I never grow tired of watching someone convince themselves that they “really need” that 100 pound boring bar to make a deep hollow vessel, even though it’s heavier than their mini lathe.
Visitors enjoy John Franklin's colorful dyed woodturnings during Totally Turning and the Woodworkers Showcase 2013 held at the City Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Mike Mahoney talks with turners after his bowl coring demonstration at the Totally Turning symposium in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Michael Foster's woodturnings on display at an instant gallery during Totally Turning and the Woodworkers Showcase 2013 held in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Andrew Finnigan's "The Black Sheep" Boxelder burl, African Blackwood
Michael Foster's "Black Cherry" hollow form.