Teaching Turning!

Published by Les on

It’s several months since I set up the woodturning tuition side of the business and it’s becoming a very important part of Pren, as well as a very enjoyable part of my work. What I hadn’t quite expected was the wide range of skills and the even wider range of needs and interest of the students.

Altogether, there are four types of students who have come to me for tuition,

  1. The complete beginner who wants nothing more than a day’s fun trying something new
  2. The complete beginner who wants to take up woodturning and is therefore looking for tuition in the basic skills needed
  3. The intermediate turner who is experiencing difficulty with one or more specific aspects of turning and therefore wants specific guidance
  4. The intermediate turner who has been working purely on spindle work and wants to start bowl-turning.

Each type of learner has his or her own agenda for the day, some want just a couple of hours as a taster session, whilst others want a whole day, or even two.  Some want to make the perfect bowl whilst others want to practice, practice, practice a specific technique and really wren’t worried if they take a finished piece home at the end of the day. Some have looked at our website and fancy having a go at scorching, or at incorporating other materials into their turning.

Last Saturday I had a student called Jonas for a three-hour, taster session. We had exchanged a few emails regarding what we might do on the day, and Jonas was clearly up for a challenge. He had experienced wood turning just once before, having been on a similar taster session to mine, and having made a walnut bowl, but this time we were thinking of aiming high.

The piece of wood that I chose for Jonas was also going to challenge him, it was a piece of lightly spalted sycamore in its early stage of decay, so the wood was a little softer than I would normally use with a student. What is more, this was going to be a deep bowl, instead of the shallow bowls that students normally make, Deeper bowls are very much more difficult to make and need more advanced techniques and better tool control, and I’m glad to say that Jonas was up to the challenge.

Using some of my recent work as inspiration for this session, Jonas’ bowl had a special feature running around the outside, just below the rim. We inserted a leather thong set between two beads, each worked out of the body of the bowl. We didn’t stop there, however! To mask the joint between the two ends of the leather thong, we concealed the join underneath a beautiful piece of Gold-spot Lapis Lazuli, set into a sycamore cushion mount. Oh, and I forgot, we also used a couple of scorch lines to help to highlight the beads.

So here’s the outcome, both human and wooden. A very happy Jonas with a very fine bowl to take home for his wife. All in all, I’d say that was a great three hours work. Congratulations to you Jonas, you should be very proud of what you achieved in your session.

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