Although it's taken me a couple of weeks to write about this (a serious bout of real man flu has laid me low for most of this month), December started with a wonderful weekend under the expert eyes of Les Thorne and Nick Agar. I can't praise their skill and expertise enough, or their generosity with sharing their advice and encouragement. The weekend was one of the AWGB's workshop sessions, several of which are arranged throughout the year. More on this later.
This workshop was on Creative Box making. You can see some of the results in the picture above - as you can also see, Nick and Les were still smiling at the end of the weekend! We were a group of 12 who were lucky enough to get on this course. The course was held at the Max Carey Woodturning Trust. This is a fantastic training facility, fully equipped to easily cater with our group size. There were even lathes to spare. The Trust run a number of courses and are held in very high regard for the work they do in promoting woodturning.
Both Les and Nick offer courses themselves, and you can find details of these on their respective websites.
Each day started with Les demonstrating the skills needed to turn a variety of different shaped boxes. If you've seen Les demonstrate, you'll know that not only does he bring a lot of humour into his demos, his explanations of technique and skills are clear and precise. Such clarity and precision really helped me improve my box-making. Later in the day, Nick then showed a range of ideas for how to texture, colour and decorate our boxes. Nick's level of expertise and talent needs no comment - if you've seen examples of his work, it is impossible not to be impressed with his use of colour and texture. Great teachers inspire and enthuse - and this is exactly what Nick and Les did. I just wish I hadn't been struck down with illness immediately afterwards, as I was desperate to get into my workshop when I got home. Still, Christmas holidays are coming, and workshop time is getting closer.
I tried a couple of ideas that Nick demonstrated for the boxes I made. My first effort needed a bit more work on the colouring and my knob was too small, but I was happier with my second one. While neither box is yet finished (that annoying man flu again), they will be finished off soon. I'm pretty sure that the next few boxes I make will of course be influenced by what I learnt on the course, and I'd like to acknowledge the part the Les and Nick have played in setting me off down this course. There is a generosity in the woodturning world about sharing ideas, but there has to also be a recognition of those who have influenced us, even if we end up making something quite different by the time we get further down our making path. So, Les and Nick, thank you for a fantastic weekend - and thank you for the way your teaching and encouragement will help shape the future direction of my woodturning.
As I said at the start, the weekend was one of the workshops offered by the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain. I only joined this year, and wish I'd done so when I started woodturning. Many woodturning clubs are associate members of the AWGB, but an individual membership gives you the chance to enjoy a range of benefits. I highly recommend becoming a member - who knows, it could be you on the next course Nick and Les offer!