By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer
Lexington – The Association of Revolutionary Turners’ 85 members have at least one thing in common – they use a lathe. ART President John Flynn explained that wood turning is, “Using chisels with a variety of points to shape wood that is spinning on a lathe, secured at two points.”
ART members run the gamut from beginners to experienced wood turners, creating simple bowls to complex decorative pieces.
Founded in 2002 in Lexington, the club is a chapter of the American Association of Wood Turners. In spite of its name, there is no connection with the American Revolution.
Flynn said that about one-third of the members are retirees; the average age is 45 to 50. Members, male and female, come from diverse backgrounds: engineers, trades people, teachers, and others.
The club holds a monthly meeting, distributes a monthly newsletter, maintains a library, and offers woodworking demonstrations, discounts from certain woodworking stores, and direct sale of some woodworking supplies that they buy in bulk.
ART meets at a store, Woodcraft, (185 New Boston St., Woburn) on the third Wednesday of the month. Woodcraft donates it space, and allows ART members to use their lathes. An hour before their monthly meeting, ART holds a “Learn and Turn” event. Those looking to develop and expand their skills can take advantage of the ART Mentor Program. According to the group’s brochure, “Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced turner … club mentors are here to help you.”
Commenting on the work, Flynn said, “We use a variety of types of wood. I like spalted apple, which is filled with critter holes.” He added that if someone’s reports that their hardwood tree has fallen down, members might show up with chainsaws.
Finish work is an important part of creating a piece.
“We might use an oil-based or polyurethane, beeswax or mineral oil on the wood,” Flynn said. “Sometimes we do a little bit, put it aside, and then do more.”
Derrick TePaske, one of ART’s most experienced wood-turners, has a piece in the highly respected Montalto Bohlen Wood Art Collection, which has been exhibited at the Peabody Essex Museum. TePaske, a professor at Framingham State University, said, “Part of the pleasure (of turning) is that it makes me feel connected with ancient artisans – across cultures and throughout the world – who routinely made useful things which were more carefully crafted and beautiful than they really needed to be.”
Membership in ART is $30 per year. The club is one of three in Massachusetts that belong to the American Association of Wood Turners. There is also the Central New England Turners in Worcester, and the Massachusetts South Shore Woodturners in Abington.
For more information about ART, contact Flynn at [email protected].