What motivated you to join the fledgling AAW?
I began turning in 1950 in New Jersey, and was retailing my work in New York City alongside Bob Stocksdale. I had been fortunate to be part of a few national exhibits. After moving to Massachusetts in 1955, I joined the Massachusetts Association of Craftsmen.
A fellow turner, Toby Winkler, and his wife Caroline, (who designed AAW logo) attended the conference at Arrowmont. The idea of an organization devoted to woodturning was very appealing. I'd had a difficult time making contact with other turners. My girlfriend (later my wife), whose job included research, approached furniture makers; we came to know Wharton Esherick and I was able to visit Sam Maloof. Over the years, I met more turners, primarily through exhibitions. Then, AAW! I was able to meet woodturners working at all levels and styles.
Later on, Toby, J. Paul Fennell, Tom Sherwood, Bill Lucas and I were instrumental in founding Central New England Woodturners, the first AAW Chapter in New England.
Who or what was your greatest teacher?
I was self-taught. The local library had a copy of The Art of James Prestini. His shapes and forms were inspirational and can be observed in some of my work today.
What was your happiest turning moment?
Early in my woodturning career, a salad bowl of mine appeared in The New Yorker magazine in a Georg Jensen ad. It was a happy surprise.
What is your favorite tool/wood, and why?
My favorite tool is the bowl gouge, a tool to my knowledge not available when I first started turning. I have used many exotic and local woods, but cherry and birds-eye are high on my favorites list.
What do you see as the biggest change in the field?
When I first began turning, much emphasis was placed on form and technique. Later the use of exotic woods was in vogue. In recent years turning has changed dramatically through enhancement of turned forms (coloring, carving, use of new materials, piercing, etc.) and unusual designs and shapes.
Do you still have American Woodturner back issues? Where do you keep them?
I have all of the American Woodturner issues kept in a series of covers in my bookcase devoted to woodturning.
Has being a part of AAW affected your life and work? How?
I am a charter member of three AAW Chapters: Central New England Woodturners, Granite State Woodturners and Mt. Washington Valley Woodturners. My family and I have developed many friendships through the Chapters, and I have profited from sharing ideas.
What's your favorite project/piece?
A large 24-inch diameter walnut shallow bowl which I turned early in my turning days. It is now in the permanent collection and gallery of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, of which I am a member.
This 24-inch walnut platter is in the permanent collection of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, of which I am a member.
Favorite piece turned by another artist?
I am pleased to have a set of Rude Osolnick's candlesticks. I was in an exhibit with Rude in the 1960's, and was able to visit him at Poverty Ridge a few months before his death. As a friend of J. Paul Fennell's since the beginning of AAW, I am also very fortunate to have one of his early hollow forms.
Bill and his trio of Osolnik candlesticks
In the thirty weeks leading up to AAW's 30th Anniversary Symposium in Atlanta, we will be sharing the stories of members who joined in 1986 and are still members today. We hope you enjoy their memories and insights!
Click here to view profiles online.
About Bill Frost
Retired engineer Bill Frost has been turning since 1950, when he took up the lathe as part of his rehabilitation after an auto accident. He had many early successes, from selling through the very chic Georg Jensen store to being included in the Museum of Modern Art's series of shows, Good Design. His work was also shown at the New York World's Fair in 1964 in a special exhibition by the Massachusetts Association of Craftsmen. Bill worked for General Electric for 32 years, and was involved in the early days of the iconic modern home design store, Design Research.
Over the years, Bill's work has been shown in invitational and juried exhibitions across the country, and several of his pieces are in permanent collections. A juried member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, he has been selected several times to show work in the League's annual exhibition, Living With Craft.
Bill and his wife have been active members of the Granite State Woodturners. An Eagle Scout, he has been an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America, and has a strong interest in genealogy and history. Now 89, Bill has been turning for 65 years.