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Janice Levi, Member #20887
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Member Profile: Janice Levi
February 16, 2017
MEMBER #20887

Janice Levi
Janice Levi enjoys turning wearable art in her newly revamped shop.        

When Janice started turning wood, it was still very much a man's world but the Houston area club members welcomed her. Within three years, she was elected president, the first female to hold that title. Although Janice has gone on to serve the Waco club as president and became the first female president of SWAT, it is turning wood, not politics, that is her passion.
Name: Janice Levi 
Hometown: Grosebeck, TX 
Turning Club: Brazo Valley Woodturners, Waco; Gulf Coast Woodturners, Houston 
Turning Experience: 15 years
What motivated you to join AAW?
The Gulf Coast Woodturners, the first woodturning organization that I joined, was an AAW-affiliated club and my new woodturning friends encouraged me to join AAW. At that time I was told that the journal alone was "worth the price of admission." It certainly was.
When you look at your turnings, what do you see?  
I see a lot of experiments. I've always been an "I want to do it all" kind of person, so I tried just about everything I saw demonstrated, a whole lot of what I saw in books and magazines, and finally, I began to experiment with those things that most appealed to me. For the past few years, I have really worked at jewelry and purse designs.

Who, or what, was your greatest teacher/influence?
I was so fortunate to have two great woodturner friends who lived close-Bill Berry and Luna Ford. They were competent turners and teachers and they would come over on Wednesday afternoons and teach me toolmanship, shop safety, sharpening, wood choices, and so much more. Luna doesn't turn anymore, but I still regularly go to Bill with my woodturning questions.
What was your happiest turning moment?  
I had been trying to figure out how to make and install wooden hinges into one of my purse designs, and I struggled with jigs, online suggestions, friend suggestions, and articles. Nothing worked the way I saw those hinges in my mind. I finally was able to work out a design that had promise, but I couldn't get the knuckles all the same width. Finally, my husband said, "Cut inside the lines, not on the lines." It was an "Ah-ha!" moment.
What is your favorite wood/tool and why?
For turning and enhancing jewelry, holly is my favorite wood. It is a blank canvas and the grain doesn't argue with the pyrography tip. For purses, I like maple or pear. For bowls and platters, I like mesquite with all its cracks and bark inclusions.

I do a lot of spindle work and the 3/8" detail gouge is a real workhorse. I use it to turn beads and coves and even to turn delicate finials.
Where do you see the field of woodturning going?
I think we'll head in the direction of artistic turning for awhile. The new, young turners are proving that fantastic things can be accomplished on the lathe that were never thought possible nor even dreamed of. But life tends to run in cycles, and I think that in time, we will return to functional pieces stealing the limelight.
In addition to woodturning, what other crafts/hobbies have you enjoyed?
I believe that people should enjoy life and should experience as many new things as possible. Don't be afraid to try and don't be afraid to fail. As a result, I have enjoyed many activities and had many hobbies throughout the years. Water skiing, snow skiing, cave exploring, photography, motorcycle riding, stained glass, gardening, design work... Most of them have faded away as I get older, but woodturning and drawing are still very much a part of my life.
Has being a part of AAW affected your life and work? How?
Every time a new journal would arrive in the mail, I would sit down immediately and read every page, marking those projects that I would go to the shop and try. I still do that today. But the scope of AAW has grown so much and there are so many more resources available now. Need a tip of how to do something? AAW has it at your fingertips online. Need a demonstrator for your club meeting? AAW has a list of them. Beginning turner who needs help and ideas? AAW FUNdamentals is for you. Need a grant? Want to teach the underprivileged? Good grief! I'm beginning to sound like a commercial.
What is your favorite project or piece?
There are a couple of purses that I really like and a few pieces of jewelry. I down-sized the purse wooden hinge and used it in some jewelry pieces that I'm really proud of.
The barrel-shaped purse is one of Janice's favorites to turn. The shapes and designs are endless.  

How has your local chapter helped you?
After leaving the Houston area, I joined the Brazos Valley Woodturners. It's a growing club and the level of enthusiasm is fantastic. It's also a club with a high percentage of women turners. We have open shops, hands-on retreats, regional and national demonstrators, club picnics-all the things that create camaraderie and learning!      


Janice wrote an article for the February 2017 issue of American Woodturner on  how to turn this half-moon purse (begins on page 32).   
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