Named in recognition of the writings & work of 5th generation English turner, Bill Jones (1920-2011)

I have long wanted to keep a workshop diary. After thinking and thinking about a title, I decided I could no better than name it Notes from the Turning Shop, just as the late English turner, Bill Jones, named his published musings on our shared trade. Bill died in July, 2011, and with him died a family tradition of craft that had lasted five generations.

The trade of turning is an interesting and varied one one. Although I work so much with chess sets and other small objets d'art, my skills are rooted in the workshop skills of the turners who produced household products: shaving brush handles, drawer pulls, spindles of various sorts, and treen innumerable. What I do is not, to put it another way, produce objects that primarily are made in order to be viewed. These things I work with are meant to be handled, used, pulled, moved, rolled, scooped, etc. They live in our houses with us.

I intend to begin documenting here what the fundamental processes of this work are. The project ties very closely to my interest in the skill sets of the Victorian turners: their skills are the ones I study, try to copy, hope to figure out. They stood at their lathes and produced wonders of function.

What I will document here is not what I have done, nor how I did this-that-or-the-other. Instead, it is what I am doing. Now. Today. Again, this is a diary, and I share it because it is my hope that somehow these skills can be passed along, that there is still interest in doing it.

Because some people need to learn it.

If they don't, when we old turners turn our lathes off that one last time, this ancient trade itself will die.

Alan Dewey, June 2012