For decades I have worked wood surrounded by people – dozens, scores, hundreds, thousands of people. But in one sense, I work wood primarily in isolation. All these people were visitors to the museum, so watching me work. In many cases, I met woodworkers of all stripes, but it was very hit-or-miss. I just finished my most recent stint as a student, rather than instructor, this time in Robin Wood’s bowl turning class at the North house Folk school. This is the sort of inspiring time I remember back when I was a regular student in classes, mostly at Drew Langsner’s Country Workshops – to be surrounded by people who’ve come from all over, to concentrate on learning, sharing and exploring aspects of hand-tool woodworking. What a time! North House Folk School has a great reputation, for good reason. Excellent facility, setting, people, and offerings. Look at the range of classes… http://www.northhouse.org/
I knew it was going to be great to meet Robin and learn of the bowl turning work he’s been practicing all these years. But there was way more to it than that. First of all, Jarrod Stonedahl helped organize and execute the class. He and Roger Abrahamson built the lathes for example. (links: http://www.rogerabrahamson.com/index.html and http://woodspiritgallery.com/ )
But it was the whole scene that served to keep us occupied. Birch was the standard timber available up there, but Jarrod could not let the bark just be hewn away, so -quick – a lesson in harvesting birch bark. Later he showed me how to cut the arrow-lock/finger joints that he uses in his “boxes” – one of which we’ve had at home for quite some time.
Roger has been a pole-lathe bowl turner himself for many years, and had once visited my shop at Plimoth. He made a couple of bowls, traipsed around the shop helping people and generally sharing his skills. same with Jarrod.
But of course, Robin was the show – his teaching style is just what you’d expect, based on the writings on his blog. Extremely knowledgeable, patient, and helpful. His English was pretty good too. Axe work, bowl turning, tool making, bowl design, history – we covered a lot of ground.
An added bonus was the spoons there – I brought a couple but really the star there was far and away the youngster Jojo Wood. More on that later.
The facility was excellent – windows on three sides looking out to Lake Superior. It was a pretty big lake. I didn’t really have the time or the money for this class, but had decided that I have let a few opportunities go by in recent years, and this one I drew the line. I’m glad I did.
Here’s some photos – If I tell you all about it, I’ll be here all night. I’ll use captions.