The Joy of Woodturning

campbell2015The Joy of Woodturning is the name of my woodturning week at John C Campbell Folk School. This year it took place during Scottish Week, and what a joy it was. There were eight students ranging from beginner to very experienced, three women and five men.

We met on Sunday evening at the studio and talked about what each student wanted to accomplish over the week. Then I gave them a short demo on how to look at wood and what to think about when selecting the various parts of the tree.

On Monday morning I started the new turners out on beads and coves to get them used to handling the tools. The more advance students skipped this step and started their own projects. My most advanced student, Jayne, turned uninterrupted the entire time. With fifteen year experience, she didn’t need any instruction, except for asking a few questions about pyrography, the art of wood burning. Another one of my students, Dave, had been in one of my bowl classes at Highland Woodworking the previous year. He is now totally addicted to turning.

campbell20151Regardless of experience, all of the students advanced their skills over the week. It all comes down to standing at the lathe- the more you turn, the better you get. Everyone left with a sense of accomplishment, and we formed a community, as the more experienced turners helped the less experienced. It was a successful week!

My reward is experiencing the movement in the class. A community forms and sharing take place. I love to teach at J C Campbell because it is a non-competitive environment and students truly experience the joy of turning. They get to laugh at themselves and find that turning is about sharing. I look forward to continuing to teach there for years to come.

J C Campbell folk school is located in Brasstown, NC. Go to for a complete view of the school and what it has to offer. For private classes year round, contact me

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