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Woodturning News: General News

ASHEVILLE MADE: Woodturner Lathed On Through to the Other Side by Paul M. Howey (05/31/2019)

Monday, June 3, 2019   (0 Comments)
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ASHEVILLE MADE: Woodturner Lathed On Through to the Other Side by Paul M. Howey (05/31/2019)

David Ellsworth, a turner of delicate, thin-walled wood sculptures, is always aware that his tools might puncture the surface of his works and ruin everything.

That’s the real-life danger. Then there’s the metaphorical threat. “Even the thought of making art, much less the act itself, is mired in risk,” he offers. “[But] risk is part of its value.”

And yet his legacy seems safe: Ellsworth has become a well-respected teacher of the turning techniques and tools he’s developed. “I know how it feels to do work through a process of feel rather than sight. That intimacy needs to be reflected in the final form.”

To convey this to his students, “I talk to them about reaching into a hollow
form with a sharpened piece of steel and learning to ‘shake hands’ with the wood,” he says. “At some point, a thin wall will radiate a tone that [the student] can follow throughout the form, whereas a thick wall must be mechanically measured.”

Ellsworth was 14 when he was introduced to the lathe in an eighth-grade wood-shop class. “I made a platter out of 24 pieces of walnut glued together, for my mother,” he recalls. “I discovered lathe work was a centering process, and it was liberating.” He continued turning wood until he graduated.

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