While turning wood in my workshop based in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, I occasionally ask myself why I do it. There isn’t a straightforward answer but perhaps this is a start!
Have you ever watched how someone holds a beautifully made wooden object? It is more than just a functional or visual thing. The natural warmth of the wood and silky smoothness of the surface always gives pleasure like almost no other material. Many woods have pleasant and characteristic smells that add to the experience (it’s a shame the visitors here don’t get to touch or smell, you are all missing out!). The variations in colour, patterning, grain, figuring make each piece of wood unique before the woodturner creates something new from it.
Wood is almost treated with reverence because of its characteristics and probably also because of its ancient association as a source of warmth, food, tools, shelter and even clothing. Why should something that really does “grow on trees” be treated in such a way and valued so highly? Perhaps it is due to the inherent strength and endurance we all associate with a tree. No doubt there are many more reasons, what’s yours?
There is something deeply satisfying in turning any raw material into a finished article. Woodturning lends itself to the production of so many different things, some functional, some decorative and some might even be described as artistic. As a craft, woodturning is neither the easiest or the safest but despite this, aspiring woodturners devote time and effort to learn how to turn. For Paul, it is the wide scope available in both the materials available and the turned wood produced that hold the attraction. As a medium, wood can be used with a whole spectrum of other materials and finishes and woodturning always seems able to deliver something new. It is also the use of a simple and fundamentally ancient machine and tools to turn an ancient material into something desirable, useful or aspirational.