About twenty years ago, I was offered a Coronet 1 lathe for £50. It seemed like a bargain, but I didn't have £50 so the opportunity passed me by.
When I got to my fortieth birthday, and I'd been doing flat woodwork for a few years from my garage, I decided it was time to get a lathe. Not the most dramatic of purchases for the auspicious birthday, but it was a life-changing purchase. It just took me some time to realise this! For the first year of having a lathe, I turned lots of pens and two bowls. I gave the pens away and was delighted with the pleasure the recipients showed on receiving them. Then my use of the lathe tailed off, until I realised it had been years not months that it had sat idle and unused.
This realisation coincided with news of a new woodturning club starting not far from me - South Downs Woodturners. I went to the first meeting and was hooked. I met many like-minded enthusiasts and through one of them was introduced to another club in the area, West Sussex Woodturners. I now enjoy a double dose of woodturning club life at the start of each month. It's fantastic!
Being in a club is a great way to develop new skills and techniques, get questions answered and see some top quality demonstrations. If you're thinking of taking up woodturning, check out a local club if you can find one. I'm fortunate to belong to two and the help, guidance and encouragement I've been given has been invaluable. The level of commitment shown by the members who take on positions of responsibility is inspiring. Club competitions are also a great way to improve your turning skills and give you an incentive to get in front of your lathe regularly.
The clubs got me started again and today, a little over four years later, I had my first display of work at an Artists Open House in the Brighton Festival. Getting ready for this has been an absorbing and time-consuming process. Fortunately, I had a number of sales - six of my bowls or platters were bought, nearly covering the cost of some of the blanks and business cards and leaflets I felt I needed to have printed! To be honest, I'm not sure I'll ever cover the costs as there always seems to be something else that must be bought...
So why have I titled my first blog post as 'Getting Started' when I started years ago? I suppose the answer is that I'm now putting my work out for others to see and enjoy (or criticise, I suppose...) and that's a new step: just like this website, and blog and my Etsy shop (currently empty of stock as it's all on display as the photograph below shows) and my Youtube videos. In fact, a new chapter of my life, a life-changing one, where people I don't know actually buy what I make and I get asked to demonstrate at one of my clubs and get a load of great comments from Mike Waldt about my videos (if you're not a turner, you'll have to google him!)
So today has been a great day...I now have to catch up with the work that pays my mortgage and bills which I've let slide while I got ready for the open house, but it was definitely worth it!