I might be 46 years old, but I still like Show & Tell, especially Show & Tell night at the Baltimore Area Turners Club (B.A.T).
The B.A.T. Club meets every month, and every other month is Show & Tell night. This gives the members a chance to show off their work, ask questions about challenges they may be having, see what other people are doing, and just to have the camaraderie of being with other turners. I appreciate this on so many different levels.
Believe it or not, I am shy. I am a total ham (kosher that is) and I love the spotlight, but in crowds, I am very shy if I don’t know anyone. Years of being the class comedian has been my way of compensating for this. And you’d think a shy person would not stand up in front of a group of peers and show off his failures; but I have. I have stood up there with my “show ’cause I failed” project. And you know what? I am happy I did it. I explained to the group what I was hoping to achieve, and showed them where it went wrong. Now I am a better turner because I had a number of people give me good advice on how to achieve my goal. And I think I gained a smidgen of respect from them too, because I was not afraid to show my failure and ask for help. Last night I showed off two successful pieces and I received compliments for my work. That really ment a lot to me because they appreciated the difficulties of the project.
Seeing other people’s work is very inspiring in different ways. First, I just like seeing the really great pieces people are making. Some of these guys have been turning for many years and it shows. It’s great just sitting back just listening to these guys. It’s like picking low hanging fruit. Seeing these guys projects inspires me to do more challenging work and perfect my own skills. I like to go to museums to look at antique furniture. For years I looked upon these pieces and thought I could never achieve such perfection. Then, a couple of years ago, I started looking a lot closer at them, and underneath them, and behind them, and inside them. You know what? Their pieces are not perfect. I see the tiny errors I make. Hey! The guys who made these were human after all! Whew! Man, that took the pressure off me. Don’t get me wrong, I still like to do the very best I can do, but I don’t have to chunk the piece because a mitered corner was not 100% perfect. How does this apply to Show & Tell? I see turners with years of experience still struggle with the same things I do. I can see tiny imperfections. And as Stewart Smiley says, “And that’s okay.”
On a higher level, Show & Tell night reminds me that craft is not dead in America. There are hundreds of turners clubs out there, and woodturning is a growing industry and has become a legitimate art form. Speaking of which, we have a legitimate artist amongst our ranks. Keith Holt is known for his multi-axis turning and has presented at a number of turners symposiums. Check out his website at: www.kholtartwork.com I love to see how people can think outside the box like he does.
If you are a turner, I hope you are a member of a Turning Club. Even if you are an expert professional turner you can still learn, and most importantly, pass on your skills. Pay it forward.
See you at the next meeting!