art, crafts, etsy, Storytelling, woodturning, Woodworking

What’s in a name?

I’ve always had an obsession with names. As a kid, not only did I name all of my toys and stuffed animals, but I also often had names for my bicycle, potted plants, and bugs I met out in the yard. Basically, if I could name it, I probably did, or I at least considered, “If that thing had a name, what would it be?”

My love of birds started at a young age.

The practice still holds true today. My car is named Tallulah, my Dad’s truck that I inherited is the Great White (his name for it, not mine – I think I would have gone with The Duke), and the cedar trees in our backyard that I rescued from a coal mine are Gary, Rich, and Diane…. Our furry clan of pets include Steve and Carol (cats), as well as our dogs, General Sherman, Walter, and Eggnog (also known as Snoogie). I’ve had cats named Mushroom and Casserole, and the Yaris I owned before the one I have now was named Jerome. You get the picture. I love names.

Our motley crew.

So a lot of people have asked me how I come up with all of the names for things I turn on the lathe, as well as how do I decide to name them this or that. Being a “name enthusiast,” I’m always paying attention to names when I see them, whether it’s walking around a cemetery, doing archival research for an archaeological field project, or just hearing certain names I like. I’ve named bowls after people I know as well as interesting (and sometimes famous) historic characters, and I’ve also named bowls after members of various bands/musicians. Who knows, by tomorrow I may be naming bowls after physicists or soil colors listed in a Munsell book (10YR 3/2 very dark grayish brown anyone? Haha).

For so many of the bowls and other things I make, I just like the names and they feel right. For others, there was additional inspiration or a round-about way I got there. Anyway, here is a brief overview of the inspiration I’ve had when naming a few my turned wares (you’d be reading a dissertation if I went down the whole list).

  • I loved the name, Keturah, when I found it on an old tombstone at the Paris, Kentucky, Cemetery. I named a tobacco stick pen after her. Seemed appropriate.
  • Two bowls with gnarled grain and inclusions were named Layne and Staley. If anyone knows anything about Alice in Chains and the tragic demise of Layne Staley, you get why I named them that.
Meet Layne and Staley, respectively.
  • Two bowls (Stevie and Mick) and a platter (Peter Green) were named after present and past members of Fleetwood Mac. Now, I have to say, I’m not a Fleetwood Mac fan, but I got on a kick a few months ago researching the crazy history and drama involved with this band. The bowl I named Stevie was made out of cherry burl wood and has a lot of voids and some very dark sections of the wood. What can I say, I loved this bowl and think it is beautiful. The real Stevie is/was beautiful, and she had a long-term cocaine addiction that nearly ate away her sinuses. Mick Fleetwood is a curious character that seemed fitting for that bowl, and Peter Green, while he lost it for a time, was a pretty stoic character, just like the hackberry wood of that platter.
Stevie, Mick, and Peter Green.
  • The African mahogany bowl, Oona, is named after a song.
  • The rainbow tulip poplar bowl, Grace, is…well…graceful.
Grace. Fitting, right?
  • My dad loved Russian names, and I originally was going to be named Tatiana, but my mom convinced him to shorten it to Tanya. One of my favorite lidded bowls is named Tatiana, and another lidded bowl is named after my middle name, Alexandra.
Tatiana (spalted rainbow tulip poplar & walnut).
  • The spalted beech plate, Lytton, is named after the author, Lytton Strachey. The painter, Dora Carrington, was in love with him for years until he died. She eventually committed suicide.
Meet Lytton.
  • Clint and Hank are rowdy fella names and they just seemed fitting for those little plates.
Clint (spalted maple) and Hank (maple burl). While the coloring is very different in these two vessels, they are both maple. I love that about wood (but I digress…).
  • The beech wood platter, Henry, was named after my father. By far, that is still one of my favorite platters, and I’m just so glad it went to a good home. ☺
Henry. My dad would have loved this piece.
  • Violet, the cake plate, is named after a character played by Miss Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey.
Violet, a rainbow tulip poplar cake plate.
  • Galen, the walnut plate, is named after the son of one of my mother’s old friends. As a kid, I remember Galen and his brother, Lance (I named an acrylic pen after him), who were both teenagers, hanging out in the basement of my mom’s friend’s house playing records. While I didn’t really talk to them, and they had no interest in talking to 8-year-old me, I thought they were fascinating and so cool. I wish I could remember what they were listening to. Based on the time period, I’d go with Rush or Supertramp.
This is Galen.
  • Two vases, Margot and Petra, are named after my German uncle’s first two wives. Don’t ask why. As far as I know, there has not been a #3.
Margot and Petra.
  • Several items are named after Civil War characters, such as Stonewall and Sheridan.
  • Harold is an acrylic pen that I named after a man that lived with his mother all of his life until he died of a heart attack, and he was a good friend of the family. While I don’t remember very much about him, I do remember how he brought a plate to my mom from Intercourse, Pennsylvania (as a kid, I couldn’t help giggling about that), and he liked to give me mixed tapes of 1950s songs. He also had really long nose hairs.
This is Harold. The name fits, right? Thankfully, no nose hair.

I hope that this has given you a little insight into my zany naming process, if one could call it that. I appreciate you stopping by. ☺


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Why I like spaceships

Actually, I don’t really like spaceships for whatever that might conjure in one’s mind, and I’ve never thought to myself, “Dang, why haven’t I been sucked up into space by a bunch of UFO in their flying saucer yet?” (I did like the movie, Space Camp, when I was a kid, but I’d much prefer to sit on this big rock we call Earth and stare at the stars rather than try to get up close to them).


Have I also mentioned that I’m not a super fan of heights?

BUT, I do find myself drawn to the shape of flying saucers – or at least after the fact. It’s amazing what you find out about yourself in retrospect. You start looking at the things you’ve made and you’re like, “Hell, there’s a theme I wasn’t aware of.” Anyway, last fall I started playing with different shapes in the bowls I was turning, and one thing I kept going back to was my version(s) of the flying saucer.
Continue reading “Why I like spaceships”

crafts, Tools, woodturning, Woodworking

Lathe Runner

I used to be an avid runner years ago (hard to believe these days, but yes, it’s true). I ran constantly, obsessively, and I’d even dream about it. I frequently entered competitions and felt like a total bad ass when I placed in my age category and was overly hard on myself when I didn’t (don’t worry, my eyes are rolling AT MYSELF right now). Not sure all of that constant running was healthy to begin with, but then injuries and life got in the way, and probably thankfully, that obsession ended (after several years of guilt that I wasn’t running obsessively anymore).

This is me during a half marathon in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013. It was a good day to be obsessed with running. (As an added bonus, since the race was in Downtown Louisville, I got to run past some of the sites I had excavated previously. By then they were under concrete, buildings, and asphalt — but hey, the memories are cool!)

Anyway, I realized the other day that woodturning is not an obsession in the way that running was (note to all: passions are good, obsessions not so much), but there is a connection between the two. Continue reading “Lathe Runner”

art fairs, Bloopers, etsy, Woodworking

Wretchedly Happy

Thoughts on What the Hell I Can Make Out of a Gnarled but Beautiful Chunk of Wood

Over the last few weeks, Creekview Woodshop has had the opportunity to participate in two holiday events: the Berea’s Holiday Makers Market and the Christmas Market at Michler’s. They were both outstanding events, super fun, and we met awesome people.

(Thanks to Marie from Funky Junk Gifts and for the great photo!)

Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what motivates me to make the kinds of things I do on my lathe. It likely sounds strange to even pose the question considering I’m asking myself—and technically should know already since it’s, well, me—but even I wonder sometimes on a broader philosophical or artistic level why I might choose to make something a certain shape or color, because half the time there is no “plan.” Continue reading “Wretchedly Happy”

Office supplies, Woodworking

For the love of office supplies

When it comes to writing, I admit I’m pretty old school. Not like writing slate in a one-room school house old school, but I do actually prefer to write things down on paper vs typing things on a computer. Notes, lists, lists of lists, lists reminding me to look at the lists…you get the picture. I even leave post-it notes around for me to do things like file bill stubs:

This note to myself was weeks ago telling myself to file shit and not get distracted. Not only did I get distracted, but I’m rebelling against my bossy self and refusing to do it until I feel like it. The struggle is real.

So many things are done electronically these days – case in point, I’m writing this post on a computer right now – but if I could, I’d write it down on paper and snail mail it through the interwebs for you all to see. This is not from some sort of antagonism towards technology. I just like to write things down, and I LOVE office/school supplies.

It’s a sickness, really. Continue reading “For the love of office supplies”

Bloopers, etsy, Woodworking

Ode to My Sh*tty First Bowl

We all have that thing we did when we first started a hobby (if it even remained a hobby after that first wretched disaster…), and I have several of these things laying around as reminder of how not as sh*tty I am these days, haha.

This is me getting ready to embarrass myself with my collection of sh*tty lathe disasters. (The bowl on the lathe in this picture is not on the list, thank God…instead, I’ll be showing it at the Harrodsburg Oktoberfest this weekend. Click here to check it out on Etsy.)

Continue reading “Ode to My Sh*tty First Bowl”

Bloopers, Woodworking

Just call me Pig-Pen

The non-glamorous (but fun) life of an archaeologist and woodturner

My better half likes to call me Pig-Pen sometimes (well, actually a lot these days). Not the most flattering nickname, but I can’t blame her. I have a job where unless I’m working on a report, I’m out in the field, and when I’m home, I’m usually working in the yard or in the shop. That means I carry a lot of dirt and sawdust around with me, and I bring it into the house….What can I say? Even though I think I’ve brushed myself off, I inevitably leave a trail of debris wherever I go, only to have poor Lori follow me around with a dustpan and broom, haha.

Me out in the field messing with my mittens while mapping points with a total station. We work year-round.

Continue reading “Just call me Pig-Pen”

Craft Fairs, Woodworking

Cowboy boots on a hot day

Last weekend was a bit of a whirlwind with the Paris ArtWalk on Friday and the Pumpkin Festival all day on Saturday. Thankfully, the weather was awesome, and I can say truthfully that I had a blast (even in cowboy boots on a hot day). It was great to see my fantastic neighbors and friends, and get to know new folks and talk about one of my favorite subjects, woodturning.

I also got into (many) tangential conversations with folks I met about archaeology (I can’t help it – I live and breathe it – and when people find out you dig up dead people’s trash, they often have lots of questions), Downton Abbey episodes (who doesn’t think Michelle Dockery is stunning in everything she wears?), and whether IPA beers should be wiped off the bar menu of every pub in favor of good porters. Continue reading “Cowboy boots on a hot day”

Storytelling, Woodworking

What’s in a name?

My wife would like for me to remind you that I’m taken 😛

When I started woodworking, I never thought about starting a blog or a website, let alone an Etsy shop, so it’s been quite a journey (as much as I joke around about and generally hate that term). But as I’ve gone along, what I considered to be a personal thing—me hanging around in the woodshop with my furry assistants, dancing around while I make stuff (yes, there’s a bit of dancing, sometimes waving around a bowl gouge during a particularly “motivating” tune)—I started to consider this as something more and wanted to share what I’ve been working on.

It also was a good idea to free up some space in the house. I think my wife was starting to wonder how we ever were going to use that many bottle stoppers, I already had given her a bunch of pen prototypes, and what can one do with that many bowls or pen cups? I haven’t posted any bird houses, but I assure you, they’re Continue reading “What’s in a name?”