Some Notes from a Career in Woodwork and Woodturning

A lot of woodturners have been kind enough to fan us, so I thought I’d share some stuff I’ve learned in case somebody finds it useful. I love to pontificate anyway…

First of all, practice! Gladwell’s lovely book, Outliers: The Story of Success, says it takes on average 10,000 hours to get expert at something difficult. I read elsewhere that it takes about ten years for an artist to mature…assuming it ever happens!

I’ve demoed at Provo for their annual symposium a couple of times and met turners who’ve been attending for decades without getting much better. Seems to me that one needs to spend more time doing and less time talking about it!

As Woody Allen said, 90% of success is showing up.

Another point I’d stress is that if you want to succeed, accept your failures.
This I’ve found to be true in so many areas, I wonder if it’s part of some Cosmic Law…

It’s certainly reflected in some current research studies. One long term study following the brightest students found that while they tended to do well in life, they were not the greatest achievers. The hypothesis is that they were reinforced for being right so often, that they were afraid to take a chance on being wrong.

I’ve known many Ticos (Costa Ricans) to drop out of English classes, or to do poorly, mainly because they were too embarrassed to practice speaking it, knowing that their accent was bad. But if they had a good accent, they wouldn’t need classes, would they?

So when people ask me how I can turn such thin bowls, I answer, “Break some!”
If you’re afraid to break a bowl once in a while, you’ll never find out what your limits are – which will vary with the wood species.

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