Article: Arrowmont Retreat 2016, A Great Experinece

May 19, 2016 08:19, submitted by Tucker Garrison (author: Pat Thobe)

Retreat comments: “The Arrowmont facility is first class,” “the Arrowmont staff was helpful and friendly,” and strived to accommodate our every need. This was a “low cost but significant opportunity to ask questions and share solutions about woodturning in general.” The “classes were varied” and “of sufficient length.” “Seeing the work of others was inspiring.” "The woodturning event at Arrowmont can only described as fabulous. The organizers thought of everything. The instructors were terrific and the participants were willing to share their ideas and skills. It was a most rewarding experience and I will definitely do it again. PS: And the food was absolutely fantastic!

Please join us next year for the CMW Arrowmont Retreat, May 11 thru 14, 2017

As the men and women of CMW drove into Gatlinburg,TN some were wondering how an old established school for the arts and crafts can be right downtown. Am I in the right place? Did my GPS fail me? But as soon as you turn into the driveway the traffic, tourists and noise fall away and there you are. A collection of buildings house the workshops, offices/store/gallery, dining hall and housing for students and once you register, park and settle in for your stay you don’t want to leave the serenity that surrounds you….until you must.

We arrived between 11 and noon on Thursday and at 12:10 met in the Wood Studio for a general review and to choose our classes. We had turners who had turned “only about 6 hours”, professional turners,and everyone in-between with a variety of interests. Thus, no one class was chosen by everyone. At 12:30 we dispersed to our chosen class and the fun began.

Thursday afternoon included people in “Beads and Coves/Candlestick” and “Sharpening, Basic Cuts” who reported “learning about things I was doing wrong”….[and confirming what you are doing right]…“a better understanding of the importance of grain direction and how that impacts tool selection and cutting direction.” The class making hummingbird houses learned to hollow, shape and make pieces and parts fit together perfectly, resulting in homes that could fetch many Tubman’s for some lucky hummingbird.

Dinner Thursday evening was the first of 8 meals served to all participants, whether they stayed on campus or off campus, and the first of Bashful Bruce’s cheerleading for the kitchen staff; with beating on the table, shouting and applause! The meals were: “terrific”, “great” and included salads, main courses,desserts, fruits, cereals, breads, coffee cakes, cinnamon rolls and beverages. No one was ever late for a meal and no one left unhappy.

Thursday evening (and all evenings) the wood studio was open to work on projects from the day’s class, “to get advice on a challenging project brought from home,” or to try something new. As the day wound down, some folks gathered on the big screened porch of Hughes Hall (where our rooms were.) There was beer, wine and “opportunities to share woodturning stories and information” which also helped to nurture the “great fellowship” and “camaraderie” that everyone felt by the time they left.

Friday was the first full day of turning and a full day it was. From meeting in the dining hall at 7:30 for breakfast until 10:00 when the wood studio closed it was non-stop. All-day classes were requested by folks from the last retreat, in order to spend more time learning, turning, and completing a project.

The Thin Stem Goblet class necessitated patience, great care and the ability to hold one’s breath for minutes at a time. One student said, “I can’t believe that I could actually turn a piece of wood as thin as spaghetti without breaking it. Now I can serve spaghetti and they will really be eating thin pieces of maple!

The Bowl-Turning, Burning and Liming class was a more advanced class that required turning a bowl shape, and could then include embellishing the outside by burning it with a torch, turning grooves and using liming wax before putting it back onto the lathe a bit off center from the shaping so that the hollowing of the bowl produced an off-center rim and uneven wall thicknesses. This was a challenging class resulting in lessons learned, like: Use your calipers OFTEN so you don't go through the side of your piece or the bottom. The results were impressive.

The Lidded Box class included a new turner who was very meticulous and deliberate in order to make just the right cuts. The instructor commented that this turner was “very slow” and he was told “yes, but they are using spalted maple.” The instructor retorted, “but the maple wasn’t spalted when they started.” This turner and others shared one of many laughs over the weekend.

It was then very obvious that this retreat was not about how many projects you could make, or whose was the best, or how fast or how slow a turner you were…………but what you were learning. Our instructors were: “tremendous, taking the time to explain things,” “world class,” “kind and patient”, “giving generously of their time and patience to insure that each student had all the personal attention necessary,” “showing extreme generosity of their gift of time,” “[demonstrating] generosity and an interest in helping others,”…………and along the way everyone was willing to help each other and “learned a great deal from fellow students.”

Saturday was another 14+ hour day for both turners and instructors. The Thin Stem Mushroom class brought “OH NO” when the thin stem snapped apart and then “YEA” when the next one stayed intact. And the mushrooms were so cute! The Offset Box class produced not only an offset box, but an offset lid, and……The Natural Edge Bowl class was an opportunity for several folks who had never turned a natural edge bowl to learn how to turn air, with expert guidance along the way.

Each night as the turners completed their work, the group on the porch grew. Folks were making new friends. Newer turners were seeing that “more advanced turners also made mistakes and that gave me some solace.” Others thought the evenings on the porch were “just delightful” and wanted to join in.

Sunday morning half day classes included the Coloring class where folks learned how to use acrylic paints by determining the best color combinations, and blending colors. It also included other coloring techniques such as applying paint while still holding the piece in the chuck and then turning the lathe back on to allow the centrifugal force to spread the paint, blowing the paint across the surface of the wood and using different types and brands of paints. In carving and texturing folks had an opportunity to see and touch different texturing techniques and then try them using their carving and burning tools. The small bowl class was an opportunity to turn AND embellish a small bowl.

And then it was over. Everyone gathered their tools and then swept, vacuumed and readied the wood studio for the next lucky students.

Overall, “The Arrowmont facility is first class,” “the Arrowmont staff was helpful and friendly,” and strived to accommodate our every need. This was a “low cost but significant opportunity to ask questions and share solutions about woodturning in general.” The “classes were varied” and “of sufficient length.” “Seeing other’s works was inspiring.”

One student said it so nicely: “The weekend for me was a refreshing and enlightening encounter with like- minded people. When I am with ‘birds of the same feather’ my soul is more at peace. I believe we are encouraged and challenged to be better for the whole because of these social [interactions]. “

For me, it was all of this and it showed that CMW doesn’t just stand for Carolina Mountain Woodturners, but also for Creative Men and Women ……Crafting Marvelous Woodturnings !!

Please join the fun next time, May 11 thru 14, 2017!

Pat Thobe