We meet the third Wednesday of every month at 6:00 pm at the
220 S Madison Street
Northern Illinois Woodturners
is a club open to all skill levels.
Visitors are welcome.
Why We Turn
As someone who has spent an entire career involved with researching questions on public opinion, I'll admit to being fascinated with the question of: Why do we turn?
It is, after all, hard work. It's frustrating at times. It's not inexpensive. It's pretty darn messy; my wife hates the dust and shavings I track from my workshop into the house. Pieces of spalting wood are scattered throughout and around our garage, garden shed, and behind my house. And even when I finish with a piece, I'm not always satisfied with the results of my efforts, let alone pleased. Sheesh!
So why do we spend hour after hour in something of a daze, reducing a piece of wood to some far-fetched dream?
Hmmm. Maybe that's the key word: dream. We all dream of making the perfect cut, the absolute fit, the graceful shape, the right interpretation and, in the end, a piece that will cause you to say to yourself: "I did it!" That doesn't happen often but then a hole-in-one doesn't either, and neither does a grand slam home run. But we do chase that just right turning. The one we can proudly show to someone else and say: "I created this."
There is an amazing sense of accomplishment in woodturning. A sense of pride. I do a few art shows every year, and I can't tell you how many times a fellow turner has entered my booth and pulled out a smartphone to share a recent piece they completed.
For most of us, our skill levels change for the better over what seems to be an excruciatingly long period of time. But change they do. Lessons and practice really do make for a better turner. I'm reminded of the magazine that asked readers to send in early works created by turners...and then later ones to show how things changed. To say that the later work showed improvement would be an understatement. Our skills do improve. It keeps us coming back.
Recently, we conducted a survey of chapter leaders of AAW. We found that the majority of our members want to execute functional items: rolling pins for the cook of the house, salt shakers for the table, bowls for salads and soups, garden planting pins and much, much more. The second largest number of our members want to create art. They want to interpret, enthuse, motivate, explain their inner thoughts and dreams through their unique cutting of the wood. The third largest group is the pen turners. They turn wood, plastic, stone, pine cones, nuts, wood knots and whatever else intrigues them so they can create their own personal statement of beauty in a writing utensil.
But, when the shavings are flying, there is a certain commonality among us: We try to harness our creativity and skill to produce something that engenders pride and accomplishment. And for most of us it is hard work. Our arms and backs and legs may ache at the end of the day, but that pride of authorship is real whether it's a simple salt shaker or strange looking, oddly shaped object we can't even identify without explanation.
And even if we didn't do so well today, tomorrow will see a better piece. For sure.
In the end, that's what makes the American Association of Woodturners important and successful. We have only one, overriding goal: helping you turn your dream into reality.
Membership and Chapters Chair
American Association of Woodturners