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Woodturning Beyond Barriers
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Woodturning is enjoyed by people worldwide as a method for creating art and functional objects. For the most part, woodturning is enjoyed by people who can hold their tools with two hands, stand, see, and hear during the turning process. Most of the instructions found in books, on the web, and in videos assume the student has all of these capabilities. What happens when one or more of these capabilities do not exist?

 

People with all types of disabilities have safely enjoyed woodturning. The key is to identify alternative approaches or adaptations and enable instructors to adequately describe and demonstrate the techniques.

 

The Woodturning Beyond Barriers program describes the process of woodturning for a person with challenges. The instructions provide alternative approaches to some of the techniques that traditionally have been described only in terms for those without disabilities.

 

There is more than one way to do many things in turning, whether the turner is sighted or otherwise challenged. It is hoped that a larger discussion would find various methods and effective techniques for someone with disabilities.

 

Join the Conversation

We would appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Join the conversation on the AAW forum and send comments to the AAW office.

 

Next Phase

The next phase of this outreach is to focus on seated turners and beyond.


The Unseen Pleasures of Turning

During the 2010 Hartford AAW symposium, Malcolm Zander noticed a young blind woman, accompanied by a sighted young man, walking through the Instant Gallery. He felt bad for her as she was unable to see the pieces on display, and examining them by touch was not permitted. So he obtained one of his own pieces, a simple solid hollow form, and placed it in her hands. Her reaction was such that he resolved to try to organize a session at a future AAW event for such people, where they could explore some selected touchable pieces with their hands. He contacted Tib Shaw, curator of the AAW Gallery in Saint Paul, who had some experience in showing woodturnings to visually impaired people. It was agreed to stage a small trial session at the Saint Paul 25th Anniversary symposium.

Tib contacted the local Vision Loss Resources association for the visually impaired and organized the attendance of four blind participants, who arrived in a corner of the trade show area with two guides. Malcolm Zander invited four artists whose work was conducive to tactile examination – Al Stirt, Andi Wolfe, Betty Scarpino, and Bill Luce. They attended and each spoke to the group about their work. Michael Hosaluk also supplied several pieces. In addition, Al Stirt arranged for the group to examine a lathe, and Brent English of Robust Tools was glad to oblige.

The accompanying photos show the group meeting and examining some of the pieces. Andi commented, “It was the most amazing experience for me to watch how these individuals explored each piece with their hands.”
  
Betty Scarpino, Al Stirt and Malcolm Zander meeting with the group.
Photo Credit: Andi Wolfe
 Andi Wolfe explains her work before passing around a piece.
Photo Credit: Malcolm Zander
  
A participant explores one of Andi’s pieces with her fingers. Photo Credit: Malcolm ZanderBetty Scarpino explains her turned rattle with captured rings to the group. Photo Credit: Andi Wolfe
  
 
Betty’s rattle being examined by one of the group.They were all very curious as to how it was made. Photo Credit: Andi WolfeOne of Bill Luce’s sandblasted fir pieces being examined. Photo Credit: Andi Wolfe
  
 
The same Luce piece being examined by another participant. Andi says, “I was intrigued about how delicate a touch this person used to explore the surface.” Photo Credit: Andi WolfeExploring the textures of a small Al Stirt turning. Photo Credit: Andi Wolfe
  
The participants were fascinated by the texture of Michael Hosaluk’s iconic form. Photo Credit: Andi WolfeRearranging the two parts of Michael Hosaluk’s piece. Photo Credit: Andi Wolfe
  
  
Examining the tailstock. Photo Credit: Andi Wolfe 
  
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VIDEO: The Accessible Lathe: Trailer (subtitled) from AAW by Dennis DeVendra and Jim Sannerud (running time 1:24).

 

 

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