2015 Sort of snuck up on me! I can honestly say I’m not sorry to see the end of 2014. What a year! Pennsylvania decided to allow my wife and I to marry so after 28 or so years we thought we should so we did!
I did several new shows, including Three Rivers Art Festival and Penn’s Colony and the I Made It! For the Holidays. I also did second years of some favorites, such as Southside Works Exposed and the Midland Holiday Art Fair. I enjoyed every minute! This year I’m adding new shows and staying with my favorites from past years. I will update both the website and my Facebook page as I add events and markets so feel free to check back for updates. If you haven’t already you can ‘Like’ my page using this link!
I am making some new items, starting with salad bowls! I am debuting them this Saturday (Feb 7) at the I Made It! Mine market in Southside Works. (see the Events Page for more information.)
I hope you are looking forward to 2015 as much as I am and as my shop and lathe are calling me I hope to see you at one of the shows and markets! Until then, stay warm and safe and belated Happy New Year!
This excerpt came from the I Made It! website I thought it was pretty cool so I posted it here. Carrie runs an awesome organization and is terrific in promoting the artists' work.
Meet Leslie of Struthers Turning Studio
By Carrie on July 1, 2014
We’re so happy to have Leslie of Struthers Turning Studio with us for her second SouthSide Works Exposed. Each hand-turned piece is unique and has it’s own character. Meet Leslie and ask about her process at the SouthSide Works Exposed, happening July 11-13.
How long have you been crafting? Did you start out selling the same work you are focusing on now?
I have been making bowls since 2003 and started selling in 2011. I sold bowls then and still do, the designs have changed as I develop my style and refine designs.
How did you begin selling your work? Was it a gradual process over a period of years or did you jump right in after being inspired?
Selling my work has been a dream of mine for years and it was not until I found turning that I could. I was laid off from my ‘real’ job in 2011 and by the time I got home from leaving the office that day I had a mental list of websites I wanted to check out for potential shows and markets. That’s when I found I Made It! My first outdoor market was The Oakland Farmers Market.
What other artisans and crafters inspire you?
Louise Nevelson is one of my heroes. She created art work which moved her and her personal style was awesome. My Grandmother taught me all kinds of needlework: crossstitch, crewel work, embroidery, and sewing. She created in many different media, from quilting to oil painting. My Mom is an artist, currently she creates wood cut block prints. Mom also taught me sewing and needlework, her pastel paintings simply glow as do her water colours and I have great memories of her doing needlepoint in the car as we drove across country on vacation.
What do you love about the Pittsburgh and the shoppers you meet at local markets?
I am not a native Pittsburgher and as such really appreciate the neighborhoods which are so unique to Pittsburgh, I find the people so friendly and generally kind.
In your spare time, do you craft? If so what do you work on?
Because I work with wood I have limited opportunity to work in colour so lately I have been playing with watercolours on tiny canvasses, 3.5 inches by 2 inches. It’s quick and a lot of fun.
How Long? 4-7-2014
How long did it take you to do that? The number one question I get asked. I get asked so much I decided to really think about it. Do I count the time finding the wood? Processing it? Do I include time in the shop at the lathe? How about the years I spent learning the basics of the craft and my life experiences which led me to turning in the first place. That point at which concept and execution meet to create the series of bowls currently emerging from my brain.
I learned embroidery fairly young from my Grandma and Mom. I have my first cross stitch sampler, it is dated July 4, 1972. I know it took me forever to finish, and I think the date reflects when I finished it. So something I learned many (very many) years ago stayed in my head. I stopped doing embroidery regularly about 20 years ago. But the knowledge and exposure to techniques are there awaiting a good time to jump to the front of my brain and get used once again.
I learned to turn in the 21st century: much more recently than learning to embroider. I learned from a terrific turner who gave me a solid foundation for turning. He taught me there is a difference between good craft and good design. He advised me to listen to my own voice. He encouraged me in many ways to find my own voice as he taught me the dance of turning. I then began turning bowls: my favorite thing to turn. Bowl after bowl after bowl. After bowl. And with each bowl I learned more technique and considered more designs. I succeeded and failed. Learning all the way.
Currently I am developing designs for bowls using simple bowl shapes and embroidery techniques. I really enjoy combining the very different techniques of turning wooden bowls and needlework. The challenge for me is in figuring out how to create the design I see in my head to fit the actual bowl on which the design will go. When embroidering on fabric chances are no one will ever see the back side of the fabric. This hides a myriad of knots and ends. On wooden bowls I have to account for the design being seen from both sides of the bowl. So, first comes the design, then the stitches I want to use in the design. Then lots and lots of drawing to help me visualize both sides of the embroidery, colour coded sketches, solutions which are often half finished as I realize not only will those design solutions not work but also have no place in the possibilities list. On Friday before I was to set up for a weekend show, to be completed by 7pm I started sketching a new design. I looked up and found it was 6:30 and I had missed early set up. I lost track of time to the tune of almost 4 hours. And since I missed early set up I spent another 4 hours working on the design.
I find it interesting without the knowledge of embroidery I received as a child from my Grandma and Mom, and the encouragement I received to push myself in bowl/turning design from my turning teacher, these bowls would not exist at all.
Turning and embroidery, disparate skills to be sure. Skills learned literally in different centuries. I love bringing these skills together.
And as for how long it took me to do that?
Troublesome Blog 1-27-2014
I have been thinking about this first blog entry for months. I have made countless lists of topics; from specifically wood turning topics to thoughts about gardening in the Spring. So, I have settled on writing about all the topics I have, in time, as the mood strikes. For this first official Blog (note the capital B, it makes it official) I’m going to write about…. Arrrggghhh! As I am writing about what I want to write about my mind instantly cleared, no witty titles, no puns, and no topics! Can I possibly have writer’s block before I have written anything? Or is that the whole point of writer’s block? You can’t write even with tons of topics running down countless pages of multiple notebooks in what feels like a billion lists! Here I am once again unable to select one topic about which I can write a few erudite words. It’s not helping that an acquaintance of mine from high school is an accomplished author of long standing who is in the middle of having one of his books made into a movie starring, of all stars, Helen Mirren. (Among other luminaries of film. ) Whew!
Do I start with the weather which for many of us has been at least uncomfortable lately? My shop is in the basement which can get chilly so when I write I tend to do it upstairs where it is warm and what sunlight there is can find me and I can see outside. When I see snow falling I get that happy snow buzz and often don’t get much done as I am distracted by the beauty outside. When I see snow flying horizontally by the window and my poor weather battered flag blowing straight out I don another layer and try to work on design, business plans and troublesome Blogs.
Do I start with my three beloved cats, who accompany me to the shop and log pile with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure? They are both a joy and another distraction. When I am writing they tend to help me by making sure the laptop stays warm enough to operate properly by sitting on it or writing blogs of their own as they walk on the keys. They really are a great help to me, especially with wood and tool inspections, check the website for pictures!
Do I start with how much turning wood, using the lathe and other tools, and selling my work gives me great satisfaction and joy? Something I am acutely aware not all of us get the chance to do. How cutting blanks for bowls and pepper mills or pens, repairing machinery, turning lovely curves, even sanding gives me more than I ever felt possible? Or how seeing someone fall in love with something I have made is a transformative moment for both of us? Or how hard it is sometimes for me to let a piece go because I enjoyed making it so much or it turned out exactly as I envisioned or the wood is even prettier when I’m done than I expected? I sometimes stand in my shop or at a fair or market and think about how awesome it is to be a creative person with the opportunity to both create and share that which makes me so happy. I think I will start by saying how glad I am you are interested enough in my work to read this. And how grateful I am for the opportunity I have been given to do it. And how much I love wood and turning it. And how I strive and will continue to strive to be the best turner I can be. And how much I hope you enjoy my work as much as I enjoy making it.
January 16, 2013
Greetings from my shop! I’m launching this new feature on my website to give myself a place to rant, rave, ramble, and anything else I can think of to do in writing. I’ll write about my process, my successes and mistakes, design, trees, art, woodturning, wood, the cats, safety in woodworking, the weather, selling, buying, shows, relationships, bowls, tools, treen, and anything else I can think of. I’m really excited about this. Nothing like having a platform of your own from which you can say anything you want. I enjoy writing and I have been known to have an opinion now and then! I welcome your comments, rebuttals, and replies. Use the Email Me button and stay tuned!