16 July 2006

A New Candy Store! and Other Happenings

Pink Candy Bowl - GS Wood

Welcome! It's been quite a long time since I last posted - my apologies. I have had an interesting year so far. In January, I applied for a business license. Now I can spend my time doing paperwork when it is too cold to turn! I also delivered a long-overdue bowl, but that's for another post.

During a three-week period in February, I hauled home a ton of fresh-cut, "green" wood. Literally. By conservative estimate, I sawed up and carried home more than 2000 pounds of bowl blanks and smaller log sections. I swear, each time I loaded up the trunk of my car, the poor thing groaned and splayed out its back wheels like in the cartoons. Fortunately, the bulk of the booty was within twenty miles of home. It was quite a selection of woods, too, including bigleaf maple, two kinds of cherry, apple wood, sweetgum, beech, plum, and chestnut. Plus assorted blocks of sycamore, and a few small branches of rhododendron and Western dogwood.

Katalox Box
Beginning in March, the Pacific Northwest Woodturning Guild has been participating in the First Thursday Gallery walks, a long-standing tradition in Portland's Pearl District. Our meeting place is at an architectural firm, and they had some open space which we are using for a gallery display each month. Although sales have been slow, an encouraging number of people stop in and browse each month. We are constantly working to improve our display and presentation.

One of the unique things about our "825 Gallery" is that it is "staffed" almost entirely by Guild members, who of course are extremely knowledgeable about woodturning and most happy to answer any questions and explain how certain pieces were done. We are hoping that our expertise, and our encouragement of browsers to actually *touch* the pieces and ask questions about them, will result in more knowledgeable attendees and future customers.

Christian Burchard, an internationally-known woodturner whose studio is near Ashland, Oregon, was the presenter at the April meeting of Northwest Woodturners. He also held a one-day seminar on Friday, which I attended, and a hands-on class on Saturday. Christian is a dynamic speaker and demonstrator, and his work is continually evolving and changing. One of his favorite materials is green madrone, especially the roots and burls. (Pacific madrone, Arbutus menziesii, grows primarily along the coastal areas of Washington, Oregon and California, and is particularly abundant west of the Cascades.) His baskets are amazing - they are turned to a wall thickness of less than 1/8", and then allowed to air dry. From past experience, I can say that a hands-on class with Christian really encourages you to push your limits both in skill and in nerve!

May brought flowers, showers, and WoodFest 2006 at the World Forestry Center in Portland's Washington Park. The Guild had a table set up as part of the outside exhibits, but unfortunately, it was rather cold and windy despite the sun, and that seemed to keep attendance at the event somewhat low. Still, it was fun, and I *did* sell this little weedpot. At the time, I did not have any idea what kind of wood it was, but now I suspect it is tambootie, Spirostachys africana, also known as African Sandalwood.

Weedpot Maybe Tambootie
Did I mention that there is a new "candy store" in town? In May I made my first visit to Green Star Wood Product's retail location in downtown Portland. The owners, two enterprising young men, import container-loads of recycled post-consumer tropical timbers from Indonesia and South America, sort out the salvageable pieces, clean them up, and set them out for people like me to pick through. Most of what they get resembles overgrown 2x4's, and is really scruffy looking stuff, but after running the two wide faces through a planer it is amazing what a variety of pretty woods are revealed.

Of course, only rarely can one make even an educated guess as to exactly what species or even genus a given piece is. A few common construction timbers, such as ringas, are very distinctive (grayish sapwood, brilliant orange-red heartwood), but for most of their stock it is simply a choice of what color and figure appeals to you. The photos at top and below are small bowls I made from two boards I purchased on that first visit. I've since been back several times, and for the most part I've been really pleased with the sticks I've selected. And the prices are certainly reasonable!

Yellow-green Bowl - GS Wood

Green Star Wood Products offers woodworkers an opportunity to work with many dense and colorful tropical hardwood timbers that would otherwise be dumped in landfills or burned. I wish for them a long and prosperous sojourn in Portland!

In June I attended a two-day seminar given by Mike Darlow, and one of two days of demonstrations by Soren Berger. [[Note: Soren's website appears to be having problems. I will update the link later.]] Both of them hail from New Zealand, and were in the States to participate in the AAW annual woodturning Symposium, held this year in Louisville, KY. Mike's visit to Portland was hosted by NWWT, and he was the presenter at our June meeting. Soren's seminar was hosted by local woodturner Dale Larsen, a prolific bowlturner with a growing national reputation for turning emminently wearable wooden hats.

The Pacific Northwest Woodturning Guild hosted dinners at local restaurants with each of these gentlemen. Our purpose was to discuss woodturning in general, and to solicit the opinions of these professional woodturners on the future of woodturning and ideas of how we in the Guild can improve and expand our marketing and sales of turned objects. Not surprisingly, given their disparate backgrounds, their perspectives on the latter were somewhat diverse. But the attending Guild members feel that we received valuable information, and from Soren, good suggestions and much encouragement. The food was excellent, too!

That has pretty much caught you up to July. I've been turning, of course, in preparation for two upcoming shows. On July 22 members of the Guild will have a booth at the Division/Clinton Street Fair in SE Portland. And on the first weekend of August, we will be participating in Art in the Orchard out in Beaverton, OR. The latter is a three-day event intended to raise money for St. Mary's School for Boys and two other local schools. You can find more information on these shows on the PNWG website under "News and Events". If you are in the area, please stop by and visit our booth!

Damifino Box Left     Damifino Box Right

Technorati tags: ,