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.

I love to talk about woodturning, think about it, and generally strategize about what I’m going to try next. But unlike running where I was limited to my physical make-up (madness?) and fitness, I get to be creative (also madness?) and interact with wood in such a way that it’s always something new. There are wins and losses, but even the losses are learning experiences (or at least that’s what I tell myself when yet another chunk of wood I put on the lathe turns out to be a rotten, punky mess).

A slew of “losses” starting from the top left: 1) A piece of random wood full of holes and knots that started quickly falling apart the moment I put it on the lathe; 2) a group of recent “crappo” pieces as I like to call them – one of them would have been a nice pen cup but my drill press decided otherwise; 3) a sad African mahogany bowl that I accidentally removed the base from on the left and a beech wood bowl that had unfortunate cracks (and no, I was not going to fill them with colored resin); 4) the sad African mahogany bowl right when I destroyed the base while it was still on the lathe (I could fix this thing by making a new base, but I’m probably not going to — I’m using it as “cup” to hold pieces of sandpaper these days); 5) and finally, the most punky piece of spalted wood (red sycamore) that I’ve ever encountered. Terribly tragic.

Many of you know I got a new, much bigger lathe, and it’s been really fun to try out new things on it. I could go into how cool it is to have a machine with 2 hp and all the mechanical details about it, but I’ll spare you for now (at least in this blog – I make no promises if I see you in person, haha). Saving up for this beast and being able to buy it a few weeks ago was better than any race I ever participated in.

I call my expression in these two pics “lathe giddiness.” I was like a kid that had just seen Santa for the first time. Screw running — this is way better, haha.

I just can’t wait for the weather to get warmer so I can prop the shop doors open and enjoy the sunshine while I work rather than wear 8 layers of clothes and run several heaters at the same time. I think General Sherman will appreciate that, too, since he’s had few opportunities to assist and be on guard of late.

The General at his post a few days ago when it was actually sunny and above 40 degrees outside. He’s as anxious as I am for Spring to arrive.

Anyway, I hope all of you are well and enjoying whatever passions you have in your life. Until next time…thanks for stopping by!


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?”