Saturday, March 22, 2008

AWSA / WCWA Turnfest 2008 ...

Gigi's dream of holding a woodturning exhibition at Kirstenbosch came true this Easter long weekend.

Day 1

All the pictures, except one, by my better half, Gigi Laidler

The AWSA and WCWA arranged a 'Turnfest' at Kirstenbosch over the Easter weekend. The Turnfest comprised an exhibition of turned wood art and demonstrations of woodturning in the Old Mutual Hall

Both organisations extend grateful thanks to the staff of Kirstenbosch whose generosity made this event possible

Most of the pieces turned by the demonstrators at the Turnfest were pieces of Kirstenbosch's much loved 'Magic Tree' a big old Breede River Yellowwood that blew over and split in two in a big storm in November 2005. This tree had a special place in the heart of generations of Cape Town children.

Many of the branches were broken and needed to be trimmed when the tree fell. (Picture from the Kirstenbosch web site)

I was lucky to be offered the wood by one of the Kirstenbosch managers and Gigi came up with the brilliant idea to turn pieces from the wood of the Magic Tree at the Turnfest and offer them to the Cape Town public in return for donations to Kirstenbosh's 'Outreach Greening Project'. The project manned an information stand in the hall on all four days of the event.

The demo area was manned in two shifts of demonstrators and PRO's each day

David Burch at the lathe, left

Jimmy Stevenson at the lathe, right, with Lynette Morris on the big Nova lathe, left

The exhibition area

Through the doors one can just see the rolling slide presentation of all the pieces displayed at the last two year's AWSA Seminar Galleries.

Visitors were all very impressed by the standard of the work displayed

John Wessel's 'Fire and Motion' was prominently displayed

I spent most of the first day trying to keep up with the demand for 'Harry Potter Magic Wands' turned from the 'Magic Tree'. They went down an absolute treat with all the kids who attended the Turnfest with their parents.

Sally's friend was reading the latest Harry Potter book so she also had to have a magic wand. I hope that she didn't turn Sally into something nasty after they left. Sally was due to sing in 'The Messiah' at City Hall that evening.

Yours truly turning another magic wand!

Robyn Cohen, right, who visited my workshop and wrote a wonderful piece about the Turnfest in the Weekend Argus on the Sunday before the event

Jimmy turned Robyn and her daughter a couple of 'Magic Tree' boxes

The article about the Turnfest

Click the picture to read it

Johnny Wilsenach at the lathe

All the demonstrators and PROs did sterling work every day

And here goes another magic wand - whew

But I really enjoyed myself getting kids to guess what I was turning - giving them clues about the Magic Tree, Harry Potter and the like

The publicity banner that we had displayed on the lawn at the entrance to Kirstenbosch

It was designed by David Davidson who has designed so many of Kirstenbosch's award winning Chelsey Flower Show exhibits. Thanks David - what a wonderful banner

Myself with Elisabeth and James (Betsy and Jim) York.

This was the best magic of the day. Elizabeth and James had just completed a cruise from Cape Horn to Cape Point via Antarctica, the Falklands and Tristan de Cunha. They were due to fly out of Cape Town that evening and had taken a bus tour to Kirstenbosch for the day.

They couldn't believe their eyes when they came through the entrance to Kirstenbosch to be greeted with our beautiful banner advertising the Turnfest. They apparently made a bee-line for the exhibition. One of our members at the entrance mentioned to them that I had visited the USA for a turning symposium recently.

Elisabeth immediately came over and chatted to me about Portland and we exchanged happy memories and impressions of the event. She mentioned to me that it was she and James that had bought that wonderful Binh Pho / Frank Sudol piece at the AAW auction held at the banquet dinner. Wow! See the tribute to Frank Sudol by Binh Pho and a video of the auction on YouTube.

Elisabeth and James are an absolutely charming couple and we had a great time chatting to them and showing them around the exhibition. They were very complimentary about the standard of the work exhibited. They bought one of Peter Nicolle's pieces. It was actually not for sale but they asked us to phone Peter and twist his arm. The magic wand that I had given Elisabeth worked it's magic and Peter agreed to part with the piece. What a coup for Peter to be represented in the York's collection!

Elizabeth and James skipped the tour of the garden and stayed with us until just before their bus left. We agreed to meet at AAW's 2009 Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico - the gods being willing.

... and then it was back to turning wands for the son of a colleague

Pure magic!

And of course after all was said and done Gigi and I took our tired but very satisfied bodies and legs up the garden to pay tribute to the poor old Magic Tree still growing vigorously notwithstanding lying split in two parts

Hopefully with lots of tender loving care from the Kirstenbosch horticulturalists it will eventually grow back to its former glory

Day 2

Some general pictures of the gallery section

In the back section you can see the slide show we had running during the exhibition

To display some of the pieces we used one of the sideboards produced by my good friend Gerry (pronounced Garry) Guldenschuh - see his website Amazing Grace

My big cork oak bowl in the centre of the table

All the pieces that we turned we put on the table manned by Kirstenbosch's Outreach Greening Project. Visitors could take pieces home for a paper donation to the project

This also gave project members an excellent opportunity to interact with the public

One of Gerry's coffee tables in the foreground

Large pieces by Thys Carstens (left) and John Wessels (right)

Dave Nathan with an attentive audience

Hugh Scholtz (left) and Dave Nathan demonstrating behind

Large pieces by Thys Carstens (left) and John Wessels (right)

The walking sticks were turned by the late Willie van der Merwe and placed on display by Eric Thornton

Day 3

Izak Cronje presented Gigi with a cute spin top as a memento of the event

Myself (right) chatting to Ken Pilkington

Keep turning Ken !

Louis van Niekerk

... a former chairperson of WCWA and AWSA

I had a very attentive audience watching me turn a threaded box

Threaded boxes take a while but absolutely fascinate people

The visitors (and other turners) just can't tear themselves away!


Little boxes

Made of wood!


Lots of visitors enjoyed the event

Jimmy Stevenson came in all the way from Malmesbury two days in a row

Thanks Jimmy - you are a star

Having 5 lathes in a circle worked very well

Visitors were able to walk around and see up to five turners turning different projects

The big Nova lathe on the right was probably unnecessary. It encouraged turners to turn larger 'noisy' pieces. Also the cabinet on which it was mounted reverberated rather loudly.

The screen was just to ensure that there was no chance of a piece flying off into the exhibition area

The demonstrations would have been fine using just the smaller Jet mini lathes

Gert Ferreira ...

... turning a natural edge bowl

impressive Gert, thanks

After he had stood watching me for ages I had to comment to the fellow in the red shirt (Lance) that his face was very familiar.

It turned out that I had worked for 13 years at Jonkershoek with his brother, my good friend Guy Palmer!

Genes rule!

If we get more exhibitors next year we could easily expand into the adjacent hall where we had the slide show running

We will have to talk very nicely to Kirstenbosch management and ask if we can make this an annual Easter weekend event. I think that it could become quite a big draw card - to both organisation's advantage

Mike Richards did sterling work both in assisting with organising the event and as PRO on all four days

Gigi just loved that spin top from Izak Cronje

Sharing the foyer was an artist Tony Butler


Izak Cronje is a great stalwart of both the AWSA and WCWA

Izak's demonstrations are always enjoyed by the audience

Gregory Christians at the lathe

Greg is rapidly becoming a very competent turner

Eric Thornton the outgoing chairperson of the WCWA and one of the key organisers of this event

Thanks Eric for all the enthusiasm and hard work

On the last day I had fun again (like the first day turning magic wands)

I spent my time 'turning wood into real estate'
(turned profiles of Table Mountain)

and later even added a 'very profitable commercial venture' (the cable station on the top of the mountain)!

John Derrick at the lathe - the one who 'appeared in the newspaper' according to many of the visitors - mmmm, I suppose we do look alike with the grey beard and pony tail

Mine is greyer John!

Izak Cronje and an admirer

Izak's spin top

... with our precious 'Oom' himself in the background

June te Water displayed some of her wood, bronze and glass sculptures in the foyer

Some works included perspex ...

... and some were entirely bronze

I spent all day entertaining the visitors turning profiles of Table Mountain and getting them to guess what I was turning

I got faster and better at the 'party trick' both technically and in terms of showmanship as the day progressed

I think that I can now 'do' Table Mountain in my sleep!

I really let my hair down and enjoyed myself

Izak and the 'turning circle'

Shavings flying

Gigi took some close ups as one of the profiles developed

Lion's head done!

Now across into Newlands ravine between Table Mountain and Devil's Peak

Just a quick cove in there

You can see Platteklip George (groove) just by my right index finger!

John Wessel's 'Bakers dozen' in the centre of the Table

The pierced zebra (not visible) in Ken Turner's piece on the far right perfectly complimented the pierced zebras in the tabletop

Our compliments to the Outreach Greening Project team ...

They kept the info stand manned throughout the weekend

We made well over R3000 for the Outreach Greening Programme

Visitors admiring the works

Many visitors had never seen artistic turnings before

And here we go again

I couldn't produce enough 'Table Mountains'

Guess what I'm turning

Izak and Greg were seriously amused by now!

It's not finished until I've cut it in four on the bandsaw !

What is this guy doing to the intricate finial he just turned?

The family of 'Gauties' trying to figure out the 'real estate' from quarter pieces of a turning

Eric, behind, enjoying the show

Try looking at it from all angles 'pa'!

Eish - they can't believe it

... or as one amazed visitor exclaimed very loudly as he 'saw' it, "HOLY SHIT! IT'S TABLE MOUNTAIN!"

... and good people if you make a decent donation to the Outreach Greening Programme you can even take this piece of Cape Town 'real estate' home with you to Gauteng!

Eish -I had fun on the last day

Click on the pic to see a larger image of the mountain

This one even had a lucky knot forming an image of the cableway itself!

The table with all the wood samples

This is always a great hit with visitors

We had a constant flow of visitors

Right up until the final bell

Thanks to all those who assisted with organising the exhibition, the turners who exhibited pieces, the demonstrators and PRO's and of course Kirstenbosch management for the outstanding venue and wood from the magic tree

You all helped to make Gigi's dream a wonderful reality and all being well we will try to make it an annual event, Kirstenbosch management being willing and the venue being available