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AAW Member Profiles: Jim Piper
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  Member Profile: Jim Piper

November 23, 2017


Jim Piper

Member #46849

In May of 2011, Jim Piper plunged into woodturning after a lifelong exposure to wood through various media and industries. Little did he know how woodturning would reshape his life. After years of classes with well-known woodturners, Jim has found that his work is evolving into a palette for embellishment. He states that his woodwork now reflects his life experiences and love of nature. A new vocabulary - sometimes literal, more often quite abstract - is developing, and Jim is excited to experience this ongoing adventure.   
Jim Piper's work is featured on the cover, inside cover, and page one of the December 2017 issue of American Woodturner journal. 
What motivated you to join AAW? 
Soon after I began woodturning, my wife and I ran into an old friend who, unbeknownst to us, was a member of AAW. Our mutual interests came to light as we caught up. At our friend's suggestion, I attended the next meeting of Cascade Woodturners, and joining AAW followed naturally.
Who, or what, was your greatest teacher/influence? 
Many people and factors have contributed to my woodturning education: my natural curiosity to understand the "physics of woodturning" has certainly been a driving force in understanding how to turn wood. I want to turn the most efficient and safest way possible, and Eric Lofstrom has provided a big assist in understanding woodturning biomechanics. Graeme Priddle and Jacques Vesery have driven my inspiration for form and embellishment.
What was your happiest turning/selling moment? 
My happiest moment took place less than three years after I began turning wood: the Bellevue Arts Museum accepted my proposal to create work for a show entitled "Knock on Wood." Realizing the jury liked my proposal was also the most terrifying moment of my career, as I now had to produce the work I envisioned with little idea how to accomplish it.
As for my happiest actual woodturning moment, I had a clear moment one day when I realized I understood how to "feel" when a tool was removing wood efficiently. I could differentiate when a tool was sharp or dull; when it was scraping rather than slicing the wood in front of me.  


What was your funniest turning moment?
During a "thin wall" demonstration, a very well-known woodturner went through the side of the piece he was turning. We all had a good laugh and, as a result, I realized no woodturner is infallible.
If you couldn't be a woodturner what would you do instead?
I would sculpt stone. I've played a little with stone: it's very dusty and much heavier than wood, but it's beautiful. I love Anna Korver's work.
Has being a part of AAW affected your life and work? How?
AAW and AAW symposiums have greatly expanded my knowledge of woodturning through introducing me to woodturners the world over. I would not be creating my current work without exposure to technique and ideas pioneered by Graeme, Jacques, Benoit, Yan, Liam (his passing was a great loss), and other artists.
What is your favorite project or piece? 
My favorite project, "Return to Earth," includes a series of five pieces conceived of and produced for the 2014 Bellevue Art Museum invitational show, "Knock on Wood." This series, integrated into one piece, represents the five stages of life, beginning with the seed or embryo in the very center and progressing to a melding with the earth, represented by the base.
Jim's "Return to Earth" follows the progress of life from conception to death. It measures 11 ½" x 8 ½".
My favorite piece is "Undulating Currents," turned in 2017. It is an vessel made of dyed maple that was turned, carved, and sandblasted. I used sandblasting in a directional stroke to simulate natural light. The rim is big leaf maple dyed with alcohol-based black leather dye.
"Undulating Currents" combines the use of dyed oak, turning, carving, and sandblasting. It measures 4 3/8" x 4 5/8".
What is your favorite piece turned by another artist?
I think Liam Flynn's forms are absolutely exquisite. It's so critical to strive for beautiful form, whether it is going to be carved and textured or left as a pristine, beautiful, unaltered piece as it comes off the lathe. And I totally agree with Jacques' perspective that "without good form, it's firewood."

Liam Flynn vessels are exquisite and have reinforced my focus on form before considering any kind of embellishment.

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