About   |   Donate   |   Store   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join AAW
Woodturning News: General News

GAYRVA: Barbara Dill’s Innovative Process Brings Out the Artistic Side of Wood-Turning (02/15/2018)

Friday, February 16, 2018   (0 Comments)
Share |
We are just one day away from self-taught wood woman Barbara Dill’s multi-axis word turning demonstration at the Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond. It’s all happening this Saturday morning; the hour-long demonstration will start promptly at 11:00am, where we will be taken through her thought process when she invented and perfected a multi-axis wood-turning equation that has stumped woodworkers since the beginning of time. The demonstration is part of a retrospective of Dill’s work from the early 1990’s until present time, which is on exhibit for the next two months at Iridian Gallery.

Beldon has been working on this project for the Iridian Gallery for almost three years. “Barbara tried to explain the process to me but I couldn’t understand it,” Beldon said of the complex art of wood-turning. “But once I saw the process with my own eyes, physically saw how she took the wood and showed me the axis points and how to manipulate the wood properly while it is on the lathe, only then could I fully grasp and appreciate this unique and newly discovered art form.”

Beldon finds this pioneered art form especially significant because with the equation Dill has invented, you can perfectly duplicate asymmetrical turns and create perfect replicas. Previously, the multi-axis technique couldn’t be explained, only demonstrated. Now, with Dill’s process, people all over the world can be taught from the comfort of their own homes — given they have a lathe sitting in their living room. This discovery gives everyone a chance to find their own creative voice, rather than trying to copy what they see someone else doing. It opens up an entirely new world of creating new objects.

Barbara Dill has a unique story, due to the unique experiences she has had living through a changing society as part of the LGBTQ community. If you look closely at her work, her travels and political climates are reflected. The progression of her discovery over time is almost like a story.

Originally from Tennessee, Dill attended the University of Tennessee medical units in Memphis to get her nursing degree. “I moved to New England because I had started realizing that I was probably gay, and needed to get out of Tennessee so that I could get away and grow up,” she said. “After many years of not being able to adjust and accept myself as a lesbian, I was in therapy, and it was a really hard thing for me and my family to go through.”

“I had just about given up on myself,” Dill continued. “I was working in the emergency department of Boston City Hospital, where I was making plans to go back to Tennessee to take care of my family like I was scripted to do. Once I met Shelly, who is now my wife, I said, ‘Wow, I guess I am gay… and I guess it’s going to be okay after all’.”

The couple, which has now been together for thirty-three years — married for seven — moved to Richmond in 1986 to pursue their professional careers.

“We had two very different experiences once we decided to move to Richmond together. Shelly had a job as an openly gay psychiatrist at MCV. I worked as an assistant director of nursing at Chippenham Hospital, where I knew I would have been fired if anyone found out that I was gay,” Dill said. “It was a tremendous struggle moving here, because I was terrified that people were going to burn our house down.”

So how did Dill make the transition from psychiatric nursing to woodwork? “Back when I was growing up in 1988, I saw a picture of the most beautiful wooden bowl in the Smithsonian magazine,” she said. “I thought it really spoke to my soul and the only way I would be able to get it would be to make one like it. The very next day, a flier came in the mail from an adult education class just to make that bowl. And I have been in love with wood ever since.”

Dill attended a multi-axis wood-turning class in 2006 and waited for her instructor to explain the concept. But he never did. According to Dill, she asked him why he didn’t, and he replied, “I am showing you right now — all you do is change the axis here and then there.” “That’s when I thought to myself that there must be a better way to teach this,” she said. “So I began making multi-axis spindles and seeing what they had in common, until I was able to figure out a more systematic way to process wood.”

Dill explained that being a gay woman in a male-dominated profession like woodworking can be tough. “It was actually harder being a woman than being gay, once I was completely out,” she said. “Because men always want to help you and tell you what to do. I can’t even go into a hardware store and buy something without someone asking me why, and trying to help me. Because they think I don’t know what I’m doing, just because I am a woman.”

ill knows what she’s doing. She can crank out a  wooden candlestick piece in a couple of hours. “I start with the wood as my canvas, and see where it takes me,” she said. “I don’t have a picture in my head of what the final piece is going to look like when I start.”

Dill says that when it comes to woodwork, the type of wood that you decide to use as your medium makes all the difference. She prefers to use lighter wood because it creates better shadows off the angles when spun on the access the right way. She enjoys working with “green” wood, which is essentially fresh cut wood that has not had a chance to dry out and fray yet. Holly, in particular, is a favorite for her because of its fine grain, and because the stem cells don’t dry out as fast.

Dill has been teaching multi-axis wood-turning since 2006; she has also written, Multi-Axis Spindle Turning: A Systematic Exploration, that is scheduled to be published by Schiffer this summer. The book is an explanation of everything she has figured out about multi-axis turning from how to think about it and understand it to what the variables are and how to start playing with them to create building blocks to make your very own multi-access forms. This book can be preordered on Amazon by clicking here. Be sure to visit her website at http://www.barbaradill.com to see YouTube videos of how the process is done. And don’t forget to stop by her live demonstration this Saturday, February 17th starting at 11 AM at the Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond, located at 1407 Sherwood Ave.

View source and photos.

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal