Vivid Story of a Turning Class at Marc Adamscomments (0) June 13th, 2012 in blogs
I just read a column in the Chicago Tribune, by staff reporter Ron Grossman, that describes Mr. Grossman's experience at Marc Adams School of Woodworking. The writer, a novice wood turner, took a class with master turner Ray Key and wrote a wonderful piece about his ups and downs.
The column's lead has all the hallmarks of great writing: informative, engaging, and poetic. You learn without feeling like you've opened a textbook chapter. Mr. Grossman writes: "When you screw up royally on a wood-turning lathe, any sentient being within earshot ducks. It's an instinctive response to the sound of a piece of walnut or maple, under transformation into a bowl or vase, soaring into space, as if trying to return to the tree from which it came. Ditto, when centrifugal force slams a steel-cutting tool onto the cast-iron machine with a bang akin to an orchestra tuning up for Verdi's 'Anvil Chorus.'"
Grossman describes his one-on-one experience with Key, allowing us a glimpse into the master/apprentice relationship that used to be so common in the craft.
"At the first session, Key took inventory of the skills we brought to a lathe. Key began on a reassuring note, telling me: 'You've got a lot of good, raw material.' Then he got to the other side of the ledger: I held the tool wrong. My stance was off. I wasn't following through properly. Many a golf or tennis pro has used similar words when critiquing a student's footwork or grip on a racket or club.
My response was to return after class to the motel where I was staying and despairingly throw myself onto a bed. But the following day, my spirits were lifted by the realization that doing it Key's way was a lot easier than my hack-and-slash method. That relaxed me enough to savor the opportunity of the class. ... The thrill of a master class isn't having the maestro look over your shoulder, but the reverse."
Great stuff, and it brings back memories of a weeklong intensive class on hand tools I'd taken with Phil Lowe years back at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. I walked into the shop eager to learn, anxious for evaluation of my skills. That was followed by a bit of despair as I realized I'd not known as much as I thought I did. But by the end of the class, there was a sense of victory in that I was so much better with hand tools than I was just five days earlier--solid know-how that has helped me have more fun with the craft.
posted in: blogs
Save up to 51% on Fine Woodworking
Become a Better Woodworker
ABOUT THE EDITORS MAILBOX
FineWoodworking.com editors report from the woodworking front lines. Check in every weekday for news, information, projects, and answers to questions from Fine Woodworking readers everywhere.
Learn about our new format!
Archive: Temporarily unavailable. Stay tuned and sorry for the inconvenience.