Totally Turning, Totally Awesome
Every August, the New York resort town of Saratoga Springs hosts the best thoroughbred horse racing in the U.S. But this time of year, Saratoga hosts Totally Turning, one of the country’s finest woodturning symposiums.
Totally Turning, held on March 28 and 29, is now in its twelfth year. The Adirondack Woodturners Association hosts the event in conjunction with the Northeastern Woodworkers Association‘s “Showcase” symposium. According to the organizers, the pair of two-day events draws some 6,000 attendees for turning and woodworking demonstrations, a gallery and juried exhibit of woodturning and woodworking, and some 70 vendors selling everything from precision router bases to bandsaw supplies to pen blanks, lumber, and burls. The photos show just a few of the fine bowls, vessels, and sculptures on display in the gallery.
A woodturning symposium is always a good place find accomplished artisans at the top of their game. You get to listen and watch as they explain how to master one or another technique for designing, turning, or finishing a piece.
The Adirondack Woodturners always manage to attract some major talent for their demonstrations. This year’s lineup included three founding members of the American Association of Woodturners:
Dick Gerard, from Indianapolis, showed how to turn perfect spheres freehand. With him at the lathe, it’s not as hard as it might seem.
David Ellsworth,from Quakertown, Pa., showed how to make hollow forms, turned-rim bowls, and natural-edge bowls from a log. Ellsworth is one of the most successful turners working today. He also had 10 miniature examples of his signature bowls and vessels on display in the gallery.
Nick Cook, from Marietta Georgia, is one of the most prolific production turners and teachers in the country. He showed how to make such practical items as table lamps, platters, and salt and pepper mills.
Several of the other presentations focused on ways to enhance turnings with color, texture, or both. Dixie Biggs, a well-known turner from Gainesville, Fla., showed how she uses Dremel tools and engravers to quickly add texture to small turnings. Steve and Sharon Mushinski, hobbyists from a suburb of Toronto, showed how use paints and chemicals to apply marbling to wood. And Steve Pritchard, from Winston, Ga., gave a wide-ranging demonstration of ways to embellish turnings with dyes, paints, woodburning, and carving.
If you’re like me, you come away from a symposium like Totally Turning jazzed and impatient to get to the shop to try new things. I know that my next piece will be a natural-edge bowl (thank you, David Ellsworth), turned from a piece of spalted western alder that I bought at the show.
"Confluence," by Michael Foster, Springfield, Vt. Nine conic sections joined to form a hemisphere. Made from big leaf maple burl.
"Involute," by Michael Foster, Springfield, Vt. A turned and carved piece in red maple.
"Pretty Woman," by Alan Adler, Montvale, N.J. A tall vase with zipper in birch.
"Standing Hearts," by John Franklin, Kingston, N.Y. A vessel made from redheart, yellowheart, epoxy, and black copy toner. This piece won a first place ribbon.
A natural-edge bowl made from lychee. By David Chung, Hawaii.
"Snakes on a Plane," by John Franklin, Kingston, N.Y. Made from walnut, maple, ironwood, and brass.