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"Spiritual turning"......

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by odie, Feb 13, 2021.

  1. odie

    odie

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    In a thread not long ago, I spoke of "knowing what turners knew 100 years ago". In my opinion, the things our ancestors knew about turning, isn't something that can be written so that others can understand. You will not find the secrets of "spiritual turning" in any book. For the most part, these turners had a few turning tools, a lathe, and maybe a few words written in instruction. Very few of them had any formal training. Whatever they learned to produce, was basically by their own efforts.....and, those efforts were a culmination of years of experimentation, perseverance, and practical application.

    Most of us are incapable of that kind of dedication, so most, or majority of the turnings, then and now, do not reflect that special spiritual connection. It's the same sort of thing that great artists display in their paintings, and even though some do have the dedication, only a few have that special something that makes their work stand out. We can see that, but it's hard to describe just what it is they have that others do not. Some call this "God given talent", but it's not something that is naturally occurring......it's something else, and it's very personal.

    One of the disadvantages of living in these times, is the great plethora of tools, equipment, and advice available to those who want to learn. Some see the opposite, but IMHO, it all tends to confuse. The answer to the confusion isn't more and more new tools and advice, but to take what you have and apply some perseverance, mixed with a liberal dose of solitude, practice, and contemplation. Progress is slower this way, but the spiritual knowledge gained is compounded.

    So.....what is this "spiritual turning"? As I said, it's something that is difficult, or maybe impossible to convey with words, so the method of communicating an understandable explanation is beyond worldly concepts. Your attuned senses are capable of comprehending what it is, but there are so many obstacles standing in the way of you ever getting there. You see, it only becomes clearer what it is.....when looking back at the paths you took to get there. The paths, themselves, are not "spiritual", but the effort to go down those paths....are!

    -----odie-----

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
  2. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Interesting thread. It is amazing what our forebears did with hand tools, etc. My wife and I like to browse through antique shops. BTW, we are at the point in time where antiques were new when we were kids. Anyway, I look at furniture, etc., with a critical eye. My eyes have strained to see where wood was joined together in days of yore! Some things were so precise that joined wood seemed to be one piece!
    As for the spiritual aspect, the definition encompasses spiritual or religious matters. Some take turning seriously that it borders on the definition. People have tried to reach the utmost pinnacle of spiritual understanding but fail each time. Do we ever reach that? A seminary class had two students interview each other. I was asked if how I would know if I had "arrived." My answer was, "Do we ever arrive?"
     
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  3. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Odie, interesting perspective. I do agree that the abundance of special tools and the multitude of ways to use them, shape them, grind them etc can be overwhelming and confusing when you start out. Do they help - yes. Do they confuse and often get in the way of the point of turning - yes. For me I've settled on some basics that I try to stay with and only step out when it's because I want to learn how and like the result. Not because it sells or one of my neighbors says I need to make XYZ because I could sell them. I've also accepted that I am not as visually artistic as many that post their work here. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of a simple but well turned and shaped bowl or hollow form. I have no interest in making a 2,000 piece segmented complicated design piece with hundreds of inlays. I admire and respect the work and skill that went into it, and beauty of it, but it's not me. Could I figure out the technical aspects of it - maybe. Do I want to - no. I have two friends that are learning to turn. One bought the right basic tools and just started turning. Ruining some pieces, asking what to do better, learning by practice and time at the machine but always making what he liked when done. He's doing great. Another is focused on the technical aspects. If he gets the right tools, grinds, angles, finishes, speeds, etc then great stuff will just come out the other end. He's struggling. All it takes is to watch a few youtube videos of the guys in a poor region of India turning out great work sitting on a dirt floor with a home made lathe and some crudely sharpened pieces of steel to know that the next expensive tool or rig isn't always the answer.
     
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  4. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    A couple of observations.

    Alan Batty on turning - “it’s just a job”

    my observation on the field of turners is that - artists who take up turning as medium of expression seem to progress faster and do more innovative work than people who approach turning as a craft who then want to move into the art world.

    I personal got great satisfaction from the first person producing a couple of different series work and having them accepted into AAW shows.
     
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  5. Owen Lowe

    Owen Lowe

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    I find the notion of spirituality in turning 100 years ago a bit reaching. For the most part, turning was a means to an end – utilitarian bowls and furniture parts – relaxation, enjoyment, artistic expression were not part of the mix. It was a vocation that brought income. Granted there were the well-to-do with ornamental lathes and the home-shop hobbyists but for the most part wood turning was not recreational. The seeds of our modern take on wood turning began to emerge in the late-'60s into the '70s and '80s with Osolnik, Hogbin, Lundquist, and Ellsworth.

    I also push back on the idea that 100 years ago they had no formal education in turning. Most probably apprenticed (formally or informally) under an experienced turner and took over production as their skills matured. I think today we are more the opposite in that we get the interest, buy the tools, and have at it. We seek out guidance through YouTube, chapter meetings, demos, forums, etc. when we encounter difficulty. In my opinion, among a new turner's first purchases should be AAW national & chapter memberships. Then they will be at least availing themselves to the mentor of old model for common sense guidance.

    What we know and practice of the craft today is far different than 100 years ago, and, I suggest there is no lost knowledge from those practitioners. They used gouges, scrapers, the most rudimentary of work-holding methods and nothing more. I completely agree that we modern turners are often seduced with the notion that some new tool is going to bring singing angels to our shops. It's a pitfall to which new turners – but not exclusively – are especially vulnerable. I don't believe I've looked at a wood turning catalog in years and I generally skip all the advertising at the back of the Journal. My purchases are usually replacements to well-used and worn out tools or small things like a chuck jaw set. My complaint about new and "ground breaking" developments (mostly borrowed from metal lathe tooling) is that it encourages regular component replacement (carbide inserts) and the results are not as good as with traditional gouges and skews. As with anything, start by learning the basics and then look for ways to solve unique problems that crop up for what you want to create. I understand that all of this is easy for me to spout since I learned my skills before these types of things were introduced to the craft.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
  6. John Tisdale

    John Tisdale

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    With all due respect, and I mean that sincerely, I must disagree. I believe many of us, be we professional or amateur, are capable of that dedication and that it shows in our work. That little bit of soul we leave in each piece that is loved by future generations, makes us immortal
     
  7. brian horais

    brian horais

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    Well said Odie, and very thought provoking. I am one of the fortunate turning hobbyists that is not driven by production and sales. Don't get me wrong, it's always nice to sell something and to get some nice reviews on a turning. More often than not the pieces that sell are not the ones I have the closest connection with (the spiritual turnings...). I do find a certain Zen in turning and in the planning process. My best creative times are during the waking hours when I can come up with new ideas and walk through the 'how am I going to do that' steps in trying a new process or technique. A production turner I am not. Somehow I don't think repetitive turning promotes a spiritual connection with the work. On the other hand, exploring new techniques and combining different techniques does promote a spiritual connection. In the trying times of this past year having that spiritual connection with my turning has inspired me to pursue many new directions and the end result is that I have managed to maintain most of my sanity. So yes, spiritual turning is very personal and also can be very rewarding - even if others don't appreciate the final result.
     
  8. odie

    odie

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    Well, John......I thought I covered that aspect in my OP......and, I agree wholeheartedly with your statement that many turners truly are dedicated to their efforts.....and some of them produce outstanding examples of woodturning, whether it's expressed as a craft, or an art. This doesn't mean that dedication and effort is what separates those who produce something special from those who don't. There are more ingredients to that equation than your seemingly simplistic view......and, here I take it further and add something. For lack of a better word, I call that missing ingredient, "spirituality".

    I suspect there are those who have mentally touched the missing ingredient at some level of comprehension. Those who have not, (IMHO) are specifically those who are most likely to disagree with the presumption.......and, don't get me wrong, I welcome opposing viewpoints in this discussion.

    As I type this, I'm reading @brian horais post above this one, and he has some very good extremely good input to this discussion. :D

    -----odie-----
     
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  9. Doug Freeman

    Doug Freeman

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    20+ years ago I came across the concept of the "flow state", definition from wikipedia: In positive psychology, a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time. Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in 1975, the concept has been widely referred to flow state across a variety of fields (and is particularly well recognized in occupational therapy), though the concept has been claimed to have existed for thousands of years under other names.

    This may be what you are unable to put words to, Odie, although I'm not sure you are attempting to communicate about state of mind or exceptional work. Anyone can achieve a "flow state", and not produce anything exceptional or even average - the skills and/or ability may not be there, and no amount of perseverance will turn some into exceptional performers at a given thing. The exceptional can produce exceptional work rather easily within a given area, but may be near useless in other areas. While there may be some artistry in all of us, God didn't hand it out equally, just as He didn't hand out the ability to make millions playing football on Sunday to everyone. Yes, there is a factor of "God given talent", it's not the same level for all in all things.

    If the end game is "art", the artist has a rather large head start vs those who never studied or practiced in the field, and who may not have much talent to offer in the "art" world. If the measure is knowledge of turning and capability to accomplish many things with a lathe and tools, it could likely be reversed. If the artist's lathe breaks, he/she is asking for help, while the craftsman determines root cause and fixes it without a second thought. Different strokes (talents) for different folks.

    As to things being different a 100 years ago - I would argue today's exceptional are as good or better as then. What you don't see is the crap that was produced a 100 years ago because no one wanted to preserve it. Yes some can get wrapped up in "the next great tool", whether they are just "brand whores" or they really think that's what they need to get to the "next level". The latter are the one's that do need to focus on developing skills vs thinking it can be purchased.

    I readily admit I am "art challenged". I don't know about the rest of you, but I've never been able to connect with "abstract art". Looks like a kindergartner through some paint on a piece of canvas. Years ago I was in the Kansas City Art Museum with my BIL, who has a Master's of Fine Art, and I asked him to explain abstract art. I got funny looks and shrugging shoulders. I look at some of the highly touted "art" turnings, and I struggle to understand what makes them so special. Personally, I will continue down my path of attempting to understand what makes one piece "art" and another piece just "nice work", other than the name attached to the piece of "art".
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
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  10. John Tisdale

    John Tisdale

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    Odie,
    I have come to understand you do seriously good work - hope to see sometime in the not too distant future.
    Be well,
    JOhn
     
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  11. Dave Fritz

    Dave Fritz

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    Odie, thanks for posting this. I've wondered for some time if the tons of tools and videos etc. aren't really a distraction to simply making. What's that saying, "I'm one tool from greatness." Some people's work looks the same as it has for years but their shops change constantly with new tools.
     
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  12. Kevin Weir

    Kevin Weir

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    Excellent thought provoking discussion! Thank you Odie for starting this thread. I think it was George Nakashima who once said that one object of life is to create. It doesn’t matter what we create, as long as we do create. A life without creating something is a life unfulfilled in my opinion. As I turn, there is fulfillment in the creation of a turned object. From a small toy spinner made from a scrap of maple to a large figured walnut salad bowl, the entire process results in a created object that will touch the life, in someway, of another person. Each turned object we make contains a small part of ourselves, we chose the wood and the design, spent the time to create it and in many cases sought to pass it on to others. If that isn’t spiritual, then I don’t know what is.
     
  13. Leo Van Der Loo

    Leo Van Der Loo

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    Odie I come from a way back when, worked in our shop and learned about things to do, a special time as well, just after WWII in a devastated country, people had to again use the tools and manners of worked as well before the war, use wagens with wooden wheels and iron hoops around them, in our shop we did the shortening of the loose hoops and reinstall heated hoops, I was jus a kid and was able to look and see, too small to help.

    My Dad had hidden and partially disassembled 3 cars that were in good condition when the war started, and when the war was over these cars were confiscated by the government to be used by special persons that did have to have a way of transport (he got paid a small % of what they where worth) and had put his life on the line to keep these from being used by the invaders.

    Anything and everything was used and fitted changed, different engines in different cars, as long as it worked it was used, same with farming equipment, horse drawn and people powered.

    Yes I seen it al and was part of this rebuilding our country, I learned a lot, though this is maybe not what you think as Spiritual ,,, anything, but it shows what people can and will do.

    My Dad started at a black smit shop, as an apprentice, his Dad did not want him to learn at the family home shop, 1909 was the year and my Dad worked at this place for 2 years, moved to another shop and on and on, normally they would be hired on for one year, but could cut that in half if things did not work out, and he did that twice, the one place had my Dad use every small piece of iron to make nails, small barrels were filled with these nails, iron was worth more that a workers wages, so all was to be used, the other place he stayed only the half year had him make chains from all the scrap pieces of iron, not what he wanted to do for the whole year, but he also had learned to make spades and inlay a steel end on these spades, as steel was expensive and was not needed for the whole length, same with making wood axes, these also got just a steel end welded on it, it was done with heating the two pieces in a coal fire, so he learned to do a lot of different things.

    By the time my Dad was 25 years old the first WW was just over and things had really changed, motorized everything and my Dad took to it as a duck to water.

    See this was the way it used to be done with tradesmen, they would learn at different places to be come full fledged tradesman, as most places did not make or build a lot of different things, and yes they did this to make a living, yet they would give things a little flair, a twist or graceful curve, an extra twist you name it.

    This was how they learned and adapted the old ways of doing things, they knew what worked and what did not, and if working for rich clients they could use extra time and better material to make or build things if that was asked for, also they did work in conjunction with other trades, the black smith was often part of these things, but wood had been used before iron was used for more everyday things, lead copper and brass were also used these were different trades, building ships or mills all had these special learned ways to do things.

    And of course some people have this God given talent, as a way to describe this, I will say you can give someone a brush and paint, and some can paint a house with it, while others are able to paint a "Nachtwacht".

    Where I see one son or grandson have a natural way with things while the others do not, though they are just as smart, (They are just wired differently!!)

    Just what I have seen and learned :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  14. stu senator

    stu senator

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    During my working life I designed equipment, products and machinery to preform in many different environments, of many materials and precision. This was done to meet the requirements of the customers.

    I enjoyed the work and challenge. Now I don't have to meet these requirements, I can take a piece of wood, look at it and make something I probably don't need but like the looks of. It's design can be changed on a whim (or catch). This is completely different and I don't have to please anyone. If I or my wife like it we can keep it, if not it can be given or tossed.

    I turn for fun and the challenge (to myself) not for someone else's idea of what is wanted or needed.

    Sometimes I even make things we can use such as bowls, stoppers and even parts to repair something.

    Having fun and a challenge is what makes retirement work for me.

    Stu
     
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  15. Lamar Wright

    Lamar Wright

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    Very interesting thread Odie. That subject is really something to ponder on. Going a little further Odie...... It's amazing how the turners before us used a lathe made out of (all) wood and pedal power to spin the lathe. They were called a Strap lathe because a strap was what did the turning........... I've read that the first lathe was invented in 1300 BC. It was called it a Bow lathe and they also used the Bow for the first known drill. The lathe was a two person operation....... Two people allowed one person to use a rope to turn the woodwork piece, while the other person used a sharpened tool to cut the wood into a desired shape. Very interesting process indeed.
     
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  16. Leo Van Der Loo

    Leo Van Der Loo

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    You know Lamar, I have friend that made a lathe while still a boy in Chile, two poles hammered into the ground under a nice long branch, holes in the poles and two pointy hard pieces of wood in the holes, strap on the branch going around a piece of wood mounted between the pointy pieces held in the holes with a wedge another piece of wood to act as the pedal tied to the strap and he used a crooked limb to rest his tool on, and so turned stuff.

    Yes he became an engineer and was running a refinery, he left and came to Canada when there was some political problems in Chile, that's how I got to know him, he was then working at a refinery in Sarnia Ontario.

    Yes lathes are a simple tool, and have been used for a long long time
     
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  17. Donovan Bailey

    Donovan Bailey

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    I've got a hunch, Owen, that when the angels come to my shop they won't be coming for the purpose of bringing me a new Doug Thompson tool.
     
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  18. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    I have a few of the woodturning books written in the late 1700s by Holtzapffel. They already knew the principles of woodturning, it was thought, an apprenticeship lasted 5 years. It was a job; they made art for Kings and Queens. Have you ever seen a set of tools from that era? I'm not sure I follow what you are saying unless you were not aware of the Holtzapffel series of turning books. Have you ever read Bill Jones's books? Ivory turners were already turning and teaching apprentices hundreds of years ago. Some had to be trailblazers, and I'm sure had to learn on their own. I read that there was a lot of secrecy in between shops. Also, as a published writer in several magazines, I disagree with the part that is something that can't be conveyed with words. Everything can be told.
     
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  19. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    No matter how utilitarian or production minded the shop, there is still a connection to the wood as something natural and mystical. Now before you raise your eyebrows, under stand that when seed germinate, or a tree grows it is a mystery. Something untamed from the outside world that is still organic and wild. No matter what we do to make it conform to our idea of order, it still has a scintilla of that wild bark covered tree in the forest. Whether we make 200 chair legs a day, two thousand dowels or some well planned artistic thing, the wood maintains it's wild origins. Wood isn't cold like stainless steel or aluminum. It shows grain, defects like knots, etc. In the foyer of our recently built house is a stand. on that stand is a black walnut bowl. A bowl I made. That Walnut bowl I made for my wife, from the tree that stood next to our old farm house, destroyed by fire. will always be a sentimental emotional tie to the life we had there. Something physical that exists and gives an embodiment to the 20 years of memories in that old house from which nothing but memories could be saved. .

    One of my great,great, great grandfather's was a gun smith, making long rifles during the time of the revolutionary war. Very few of the long rifles he made still exist. I have this strange feeling that if I were to be permitted to just touch something he made, it would strengthen my connection to him. Another ancestor of the period was a furniture maker. I had the privilege of being able to examine and photograph a piece he made. I could see small remnants of cuts he made, I could see the hand cut dovetails of the drawers. I got to see how the panels of solid wood for the back and sides were joined. I felt a connection to the man as I nosed around that piece of furniture. Something he made still existed 150 years after his death. It is the same sort of connection that I hope my grand kids and their children will have when they hold something I made. Will it remind them of the grouchy old man who scolded them in Pennsylvania Dutch when they got out of line? . .
     
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  20. George Kuipers

    George Kuipers

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    Everything can be told, but is and was it understood?
     
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  21. Aaron Harris

    Aaron Harris

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    As a newbie to the turning world, this is an interesting discussion for me. I have always been attracted to hobbies and activities that fully engage the senses and help "quiet the mind" from worry over real-world problems; fly-fishing,writing, playing guitar, and restoring/re-scaling/honing old straight razors are a few examples (which brought me in a roundabout way to turning, with the goal of making matching shaving brushes). I will say that in 55 years of indulging weird and exotic hobbies, wood- turning is the most "zen" activity I have ever done simply due to the amount of focus and precision required. I blew up a couple of early bowls due to a second's carelessness, but am slowly getting better with intuitively figuring out supported cuts that won't end in a terrifying and disastrous catch. Maybe it's different for production turners who have to crank out several dozen identical spindles on a schedule, but the idea that I can (maybe) shape something aesthetically pleasing from a once-living tree satisfies a deep creative itch, so maybe it approaches the spiritual. I like to think that, regardless of religious beliefs, the higher-level things we do are all a search for grace, and grace is very elusive, kind of like the "flow" mentioned above. Usually it comes when you least expect it, after a lot of cussing and frustration in my experience.

    And yes, the dizzying array of turning tools and supplies is confusing and expensive for us newbies, as my poor credit card can attest. The lathe really is the cheapest part of this, lol. And though I am trying to avoid the temptation to buy every cool-kids' toy, er, um, tool (like a golfer who tries to buy his swing), I also subscribe to the dictum to "Buy once, cry once." In that vein, both the Carter and Sons bowl gouge and Alan Lacer's Uber-Skew have been game-changers for me. The massive heft and rock-solid stability of both on the rest have really helped me get smoother cuts whereas I was struggling with lesser tools (no doubt due to my inexperience).

    I'm glad I found this forum, as there's obviously a lot of wisdom here beyond the lathe. Thanks for your insights. Aaron
     
  22. Leo Van Der Loo

    Leo Van Der Loo

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    Actually Holtzapffel and others that build Lathes FOR the KINGS and QUEENS, KYZER, GRAAF and for the other high and mighty's in Europe, it was the inn thing for these people to get the special woods and turn fancy pieces with these lathes.

    At the prices these lathes went for it was only that kind of person to purchase them, even now if one of these complete lathes come up for sale, they command very high prices.

    Holtzapffel lathe.jpg
    Not exactly a chair leg or bedpost turning lathe, more of a see what I can turn with my lathe.
    Boasting a one better object, like an oval turned trinket.

    Ornamental lathe.jpg
     
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  23. odie

    odie

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    A tremendous post, Aaron..... :D

    That word "focus" means much more to some, than it does with others......and the latter has little comprehension of what the former understands. Both will consider themselves "in focus"! Stick time, time in the saddle, aka: experience has an effect on focus, but not the same for everyone. Just how "connected" one is to the available evidence or sensual clues, isn't a result of intellect, or information on a spread sheet......it is what a few understand to be......spiritual focus. ;)

    -----odie-----
     
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  24. Glenn C Roberts

    Glenn C Roberts

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    I can't imagine anything more spiritual than making an urn for one's spouse.
     
  25. John Kennedy

    John Kennedy

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    Interesting topic and perspective. Thanks Odie.

    May be a bit hard to integrate this concept into wood turning, but the original question asked if more options make us better.
    Have more experience over the years with music production. Live stuff and studio processing. First love for me.
    Old guy here, in my 70's and watched the audio world go by from analog to digital and all the hi's and lo's involved as we tried to slam out the next fleeting "hit".

    In the good ol' days, there was a cellulose medium upon which you could lay down your sounds. Some benefits, but rigid limitations for the most part. Studio equipment had an amp if you didn't bring your own and a mic if you didn't bring your own. Amp had a tone control, maybe a reverb and tremolo function. There was only limited time you could spin knobs before you were forced to create.

    Now days, the digital age has blown the analog era out of the water. Things and processes the old rock n' roll masters could have barely dreamed of.

    Problem is that we even have a new psychological syndrome for musicians called "GAS". Psychiatric disease stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
    The endless possibilities of getting the next latest and greatest tool gets in the way of actually producing an end product. In music, chasing the ultimate sound without creating the ultimate sound.

    Other bad ramifications...

    Several years ago at the 40th anniversary of the Beatle's Sgt Pepper's album, there was a contest. Trial was to replicate the original album with the caveat that the group could only use hardware and technology of the time. There were some heavy hitters and all failed. Finally, one group was able to get thru the task.

    Problem was that the modern age has made us weak, with all respect to forward beautiful progress in our tools...and we need to embrace tech progress, just being vigilant on a personal level as to where the balance is. In music production we became used to doing sound tracks in small pieces. Make a sloppy mistake and we could go in and correct. Can't play it in real time, slow it down. Vocal off key, we got an auto correction for that. The old masters had to have their trip together. Show up in the studio and execute the objective with their mind, heart, hands with minimal reliance on a dead end latest and greatest gadget with another knob to spin distracting from the real task at hand.

    May somewhat relate to having to have the most current digital turning hardware. Look at what our ancestors did without a clue as to what is currently available in our arsenal. Ironically, may have held some of them back if they did have access.

    Just my two cents. And yes, every artistic endeavor should be ultimately spiritual in nature. Otherwise it is worth nothing. Neither to the creator nor to the beholder.

    Everyone stay safe in these crazy times. Love you all.

    John
     
    Dave Bunge and odie like this.
  26. odie

    odie

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    Wow......That was just great, John. :D

    I know nothing about creating music, but I progressed through life with collections of 45's, vinyl LP's, cassettes, CD's....and, now have XM radio music, and a subscription to YouTube premium......I am currently re-enjoying the hits of the 60's, and even learning to appreciate and enjoy the orchestral classics, and even opera.....imagine that!

    I may not create music, but from an appreciator's POV, I found myself relating to your post, and applying your logic to my one great passion in life......woodturning.

    I believe you are right......the artist's spiritual "connection" is definitely there, and if nurtured, the strength of that connection grows in intensity! Thank you for adding your thoughts, sir. ;)

    -----odie-----
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021 at 7:20 AM
  27. Roger Chandler

    Roger Chandler

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    Regarding tools...for me it has never, ever been any thought of “one tool from greatness.” It is about function, a tool allowing me to do some things the best way, to achieve something worthy of the effort. A coring rig, purchased to save resources, get more production from the resourses available. A hollowing rig, to allow me to do hollow forms...the ones I’ve sold have more than paid for the rig and cutters used. I have lots of tools, but they all have purpose, and are all used when needed. Hollowing big forms by hand can nearly beat you to death, so I got a system that controls the cut. Now, riding a horse and buggy might be a nice nastalgic thing on occasion, but if I’ve got to travel several hundred miles....well, I’m glad I have a nice modern/comfortable vehicle...much more efficient, and pleasant! ;)
     
  28. John Kennedy

    John Kennedy

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    Thank you, Odie, Roger.

    To Roger, looks like you have approached the craft with a level balance, new tools vs actual end product. Can only respect one who has achieved that, regardless of the art form in a fast morphing techno landscape. Combination of native skills, mental focus, restraint.

    Maybe should not have used music as a decent analogy to the spinning lathe. Have spent a moderate fortune on digital music tools. Back in the 1980’s, Microsoft introduced an echo function with Windows. Nowhere near the looped effect of tape feedback, but a sterile curiosity. Way cool at the time. The field went ballistic over the years with holy grail after holy grail mastered and surpassed. (About the only holy grail left is a decent noise gate. Getting close and confident some 14 year old kid will figure it out soon).

    My most productive years as a studio jockey required a church grand piano at a distant site. Then a Rhodes suitcase piano in the studio. Rhodes had a volume control and a one speed tremolo intensity control. You plugged the thing in and went to work. Now I got digital versions, almost impeccable recreation. Got 1200 plus presets. Each preset a feast on tweeks beyond the imagination of the creators. Jungle of seductions chasing the optimal signal needed to produce the music. Can spend hours rolling around in bliss crafting the moment.

    My wakeup call was auditioning a spendy delay unit and taking out the plastic card to buy. Reply was asking if I needed more licenses since I had already purchased it a year before. Was pondering this as I opened a hi powered site for the latest deals on music processing software. The main guru guy with every connection possible woke up as well. New discussion was “What have we become”.

    Interest in wood turning was decades ago walking thru a house in east US where Lafayette had stayed for a night. Everything was preserved from the day. Was like walking thru the door into a time warp twilight zone. Transported back centuries. Of note was the lathing of all the fixtures. Elegant creations from the stair supports to the piano legs. Wondered how they did that with no electric motors. Pedals on the floor, assistant cranking the spin thru gears?

    My music software analogy likely fails because the basic principles of wood turning have probably not proliferated that much. Writing in total ignorance here because haven’t kept up on advancements on lathing for 40 years. Can see digitally controlled lathes responding to rpm and load, vibration. Maybe more subtle tools, better alloys that last longer. But has anything else radically changed?

    Ironic note on the music industry. Anyone who has plugged a guitar into a computer is about repulsed by the dry, lifeless, crystal pristine sound. The industry is trying to produce state of the art softwares of every type to degrade the quality. You can spend thousands on software to actually deteriorate your signal so it sounds like a tape recording from the 1960’s.

    Signed in here to ask about wood hardeners to fix an outdoor deck, but catching the fever again. Will likely be back asking for respected advice on beginner’s tools via 2021.

    Highest intent, truth of this discussion IMHO is Odie’s observation that spiritual intent has to be the major determinant in any offering of our art.

    Blessings to all of you,

    John
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021 at 10:33 PM
  29. Dave Fritz

    Dave Fritz

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    While sitting in a meeting a fish manager was speaking about trout. My friend a fly fisherman and fly tyer leaned over to me and whispered, "the man has no romance in his soul." To each his own.
     
  30. Doug Freeman

    Doug Freeman

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    John, your music analogy may not apply to turning as most of us see it, ie still controlling tools by hand. Yes lathe speed control and power have changed but the turner still has to know how to handle tools. The proper analogy might be to cnc controlled equipment - lathes, routers etc - in that software controls all, but there are detail aspects a maching can’t do. Never attempted to learn to play an instrument but I do enjoy the tunes others have brought us.
     
  31. odie

    odie

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    CNC machines.........so, how come they haven't made us wood turners obsolete? :confused:

    I think I have the answer to that......"spiritual turning".

    Having worked in a machine shop where there were many CNC machines, I had the opportunity to observe. A CNC machine can precisely guide a cutting edge, but the machine itself can't decide how well the cut is executed. In a CNC shop, you have programmers, and you have operators. The programmers determine the precision of the cut, and the operators make sure the machine is running well. The operators supply the bulk materials, do minor adjustments, and decide when the cutting bits need replacement. The CNC basically runs by itself, and there needs to be a real person to decide when the cutting bit needs replacement. A CNC machine is a mindless thing, capable of precision, but it has no soul.

    A real person has an advantage that a CNC machine will never be able to duplicate. That is the connection between mind, muscle control, and tool guidance. At a very basic level, this is a "spiritual connection".....but, very obviously (to me anyway) there is much more happening in that "connection" than those who have not experienced it can realize.

    If that "spiritual connection" is recognized, understood, and controlled......wonderous things can happen while bowl turning. I say "can happen", but controlling that action doesn't automatically happen.....the pieces don't just fall into place without the "recognition and understanding" part. None of this will ever happen, unless the turner knows what sharp is, and how to manipulate the properly shaped tool through the cut at the most advantageous rpm. The whole object here, is to get a variety of advanced shapes, WITHOUT the need for anything but the finest of hand sanding. (Power sanding is eliminated completely.) This preserves the perfect geometry, and excessive sanding destroys it. This is what allows the finest of details to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye of the person who can, and does respond to it. They, themselves, may not know the why and wherefore of what they see and sense, but they are making a connection with their own personal perception of the aesthetic concept.

    Personally, I think "spiritual turning" can only be comprehended by a vey small percentage of turners.....maybe 2%. :eek: It takes much more than desire, and "stick time". It takes that "spiritual connection".....and frankly, it can't be had without a certain very specific level of spiritual-ness in the soul to begin with. :D

    -----odie-----
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021 at 1:39 PM
  32. John Kennedy

    John Kennedy

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    To Doug,

    Yeah, music analogy is weak at best. More applicable to a field like photography where the reliance on digital software, programs, plugins, filters further complicates the landscape over and above the physical hardware considerations.

    My wife is late in life into photography and has learned to avoid the pitfalls I was seduced into. My excuse is common among musicians and especially studio engineers. If you don't have the latest and greatest, the client will go next door, so you got to stay blindly current to survive..

    Beauty of wood turning is that so much can be achieved with a few basics. I hope to return to the Zen of the art. Not so much forced minimalism. Want to rebuild with the good things progress has to offer but able to concentrate on the human element of the skills required to render a piece of art. Turning possibly a good therapy for me to compensate and correct decades of excess in other endeavors that did not have to be in excess.

    John
     
    odie likes this.

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