Thursday, July 1, 2010

Woodturning by Steve Pritchard Opens in Display Gallery

Handcrafted examples of Woodturning by Steve Pritchard are featured in the display gallery through August 31, 2010.

Steve Pritchard was born in a small town in South Dakota, growing up on a farm. He developed an interest in working with wood while helping his father build pole barns, cattle sheds, and even a grain elevator. Steve graduated with a BS from South Dakota State University in 1970 and joined the Air Force becoming a pilot instructor. He also worked for the Federal Courts as an instructor of their computerized case management system. In 1995 he moved to Atlanta to become the IT manager for the US District Court and retired in 2007.

His lifetime interest in working with wood led him to consider woodturning and in 2000 he purchased an inexpensive Craftsman lathe. After making his share of bowls, boxes and weed pots, he focused in the exploration of three areas:

Hollow Forms - This involves shaping the outside of a vessel and then using specialized tools to remove the wood from the inside. The walls of the vessels are usually about ¼ inch thick or less.

Piercing - The process of using a dental drill to create holes in very thin walled vessels. The holes form patterns and shapes.

Coloring - Much of the work is finished with a clear lacquer, oil, or shellac. Some of it is painted, or pierced, or both. He uses a variety of paints including acrylic, airbrush paint, and milk paint (his favorite). Milk paint is made using the cassien from milk as the binder. Because of its thickness it is great for distressing pieces.

The process used in most of Steve's woodturning involves turning the piece twice. He starts with wet or "green" wood and produces a rough version of the piece with thick walls. After the piece dries he returns it to the lathe and produce a finished piece.

Steve's favorite woods are Bradford pear, cherry, and maple but he uses almost any wood except pine. Bradford pear heads the list because it turns easily, finishes like glass, and is a wonderful blank pallet for woodturning, painting, and piercing.

Like everything in nature, each piece of wood has its own character and also its own personality and appeal. Being able to see that personality emerge from a large wet lump of wood is very enjoyable.

Almost all of the wood that Steve uses comes from trees that have been felled due to disease, storms, or development and destined to be ground into mulch. Woodturning is one of the few ways that we, as individuals, can preserve a little of a tree that once stood tall and proud in our community.

Steve is president and webmaster for the Georgia Association of Woodturners (GAW) and a member of the American Association of Woodturners (AAW).


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