The lathe has been part of the human experience for a very long time: We know that humans spooned their food from wooden bowls for several thousand years. Man finally reasoned there must be a better way, than scraping out with a stone, to shape wood from a log. And, eventually, the first lathe was born. From then to now, the lathe has evolved into a superb instrument which now makes it possible for man to turn both beautiful art and useful items.
Woodturning artists can and do go in all aesthetic directions these days; sometimes it seems that new ideas are without limit. For example, early turnings when completed had their bottom surfaces simply covered with felt (to hide the holes left from the work-holding screws). Today, we have techniques and methods which permit careful decoration and finishing of the bottom of the piece. As a result, all surfaces are equal in today's turned art.
As long as nature continues to give woodturners beautiful woods, and especially large burls loaded with 'nature's artwork', occlusions, bark inclusions, insect infestations and more----new forms will appear which both the turner and viewer will revel in. I know I will never tire of the challenge of creating sculpted art from a burl.
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