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My Time for Practice is Over, Countryside Living, and New Workshop.

Martin at New LatheMost of you have no idea who I am, and I have to admit, that there have been times recently when I haven’t been too sure either.

At least, where wood turning is concerned, I started as being very lost and several times questioned the wisdom of taking it up in the first place, be it as a hobby or business. But now, my mind is well and truly set. The results from the past week’s turnings have spurred me on and I have convinced myself that this is what I want to do.

So, there we have it. The picture on the left is a picture of me at my new lathe station that I built when I moved workshops to half of the family’s double garage. I’m not sure how I look. I don’t smile much. Never have really. But take it from me, I am a very happy bunny.

2014-10-06-13.41.46Well, this is how the garage looked after I had cleared out the majority of the stuff inside and took to the tip quite a lot of it. The shot to the right shows how it was when it was cleared out. It was a big undertaking. There was a lot of things in their of mine from when I moved home, and some of it felt a bit uncomfortable to get rid of. But going ahead with a clear mind of leaving the past behind, I managed to whittle it down to stuff I really need or can’t bear to be without.

2014-10-09-17.26.30A lot of banging, sawing and screwing later, and I had a new lathe station and workbench built.

I pretty much designed it as I went, but big enough to cater for expansion as time goes by. The video below gives a tour, so I won’t go into it here.

But what about work and wood turning?

I turned my first ‘thing’ ever on 28th May 2014, so at the time of writing this, I have only been turning for four and a half months. Not long really to start a business out of it, is it?

The first workshop I used was at the back of the family garden centre, but I was always conscious that I felt like I was squatting there and the space wasn’t truly mine. But I am very grateful for the space that I used and I learnt a lot on the lathe by the window, looking over the cow field next door. I broke some stuff and some stuff broke me. At least, it rather badly cut my thumb open (Facebook fans will have seen the aftermath of the incident.) and there is one part of an exploding Indian Bean bowl that I still cannot find.

Some of the pens and bowls I made there have sold; I gained a few commissions from my ‘practice’ pieces and in turn, this gave me the confidence that I could in fact make a decent bowl and some rather good pens – So I’ve been told, anyway!

But now I have invested in ‘my workshop’, and I find myself in the realms of running my own business again. Before this, I was in the travel industry, a professional photographer for 13 years (I still do a bit here and there), a rock climbing instructor and still do some of that too from time to time….but first and foremost, I can call myself a wood turner now. And it feels good. Very good. Oh, I wrote and published a book too and a sequel is on the way.

I’m not entirely sure what attracts me to ‘cottage industry’. It can’t be the company as most people in ‘crafty’ trades work alone, I think. It could be the fact that I can create what I want out of a medium that allows me to work it how I please. although most of the time, I let my wood decide what it wants to be and I just help it along. I hope that makes sense. Or, it could be that I answer to no-one. I am my own boss and the products I make are of my own creation that people can buy. I’m a crap salesman, by-the-way. I believe and would like to hope that my products will sell themselves. Not much of a chance of that, I think. However, with the work I have produced this week, I can safely blow my own trumpet and say that it is rather good! Lol.

2014-10-08-17.55.51My workshop overlooks a country lane, trees and some fields. When it rains, I am dry. Not necessarily warm, but I am dry! I can hear the birds and the cows and the occasional car or van whistle by too fast. It’s good. At night, I sleep to the sound of the owls (inside the house, not the workshop!).

I share my space with various amounts of stuff. Some of it the family’s, some of it mine and some of it for a charitable organisation I work with. And a Victorian mangle. But the main space is mine. I have space to think. Indeed, if I did not have this space to think and create, then I do not think that the plot line for the sequel to my novel will have come to me. I also have more ideas for the kids’ book I am part way through writing too.

Back to the point, Martin!

My time for practice is over. I have learnt the basics of my new trade. I can turn nice bowls, pens, and this week, Christmas baubles. I now have to focus on selling the things I make so I can make a living and my customers can have a handmade item of beauty to enjoy with their families.

20141105_165243_1What I write may sound really sentimental, and sentimental it may be. But do you know what? I don’t care if it is. I create stuff. I use my hands, imagination and tools to create things that someone will love and hopefully buy. Unless you make something with your own mind and hands, you won’t have a clue how it feels for someone to exchange something that you made with your own two hands for money.

I doubt I could ever be what is known as a Production Turner – turning out loads of items week in week out. They are an incredible bunch that know their trade and skills so well that turning becomes second and third nature that they could almost do it with their eyes shut, if it wasn’t for the safety hazards. I could be called a hypocrite here as I have been popping out baubles like there’s no tomorrow! No. For me, turning is a type of artistic expression. There is a bit of me in everything I make, as I am sure there is a bit of every crafter and artist in everything they make, too.

Jeez, listen to me. Time to stop. I must be tired.

Back to the point again – My time for practice is over. I have my workshop. My space. My wood, my hands and my tools. It’s my time to make stuff that people will love.

On top of that…one huge of sense of satisfaction comes when you finish an item and you are pleased with it and you can proudly say to everyone with a big smile on your face, “Look, I made that.”

Thanks for reading. Here is the video tour I promised at the beginning of the post.

5 thoughts on “My Time for Practice is Over, Countryside Living, and New Workshop.

  1. An interesting insight on how you have come to where you are now ” a professional woodturner” and also I think an “artist”.

    You have created some fine pieces Martin, good luck with your venture, I will be looking in with great interest.

    1. Hi Billy,
      Thanks for your comment and wishes. Just taking a look round your FB page. Keep in touch – perhaps we can compare notes!

      1. I certainly will keep in touch Martin as you say good to swap notes, see what we’re thinking. looking at new directions & then going back to the old ways.

        Must chat sometime, keep up the good work


  2. The bowls are beautiful and I love the Olive Ash Celtic Platter. Beautiful work.

  3. How lovely to get to know a little of the background to your new life. I wish you every success with the beautiful woodturning that you produce.

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