Woodworkers keep crafts alive

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Woodturners from around the world gather for the biennial festival North Carolina Woodworking Symposium It will be back for the first time since 2017.


What you need to know

  • North Carolina Woodturning Symposium will be held for the first time since 2017
  • Woodturners from around the world gather to share and teach their craft
  • Vendor and gallery areas are open to the public at Greensboro Coliseum

Woodturning is an ancient craft, and although it has been replaced by machines in the world of industrial production, there are some woodturners who are hobbyists or full-time craftsmen who keep this craft alive. There are some too.

Mr. Jeff Purser Piedmont Triad Woodworkers Association He is also the treasurer of the North Carolina Woodturning Symposium.

Purser got involved with the technology about 10 years ago and has been circling ever since.

“You kind of zone out. You get into your own little world, and it’s kind of Zen-like,” Purser said.

According to the artisans, each piece is unique, with different grain patterns and markings, each unlocking a new story of the tree’s life.

“You never know what’s going to be in there. Once you start opening it up, you know, it’s very dynamic. It can change…I just open them up and what God puts inside.” I like to see what’s going on,” Purser said.

Purser said his master’s degree in forest entomology helps him understand tree incisions and stories, pointing out secrets that only he can decipher.

Jeff Purser showing the pattern of a worm-eaten maple.

Jeff Purser shows the pattern of a worm-eaten maple. (Spectrum News 1/Sydney McCoy)

“This is what’s called a bug-eaten maple. An insect got into it. That insect had a fungus attached to it. The fungus stays inside the tree and moves up and down vertically inside this wooden column. to maintain the tree and also cause it to become structurally unsound from some perspectives,” Purser said.

According to him, turning wood is not only a fun hobby, but also useful for restoration and conservation projects, which, unlike machines, can recreate the work of the original craftsmen.

“As a woodturner, I can provide scale and hardware to go back and recreate that staircase spindle,” Purser says.

In addition to reproduction, the personal touch of the lathe allows each piece of art to stand on its own.

“And as a woodturner, you end up making something special and unique, which is quite difficult. If you want to make two candlesticks, you can put them quite close together. But if you don’t make them at all It is quite difficult to make them the same. So you can make personal arrangements. Therefore, if there is something that characterizes someone in particular, you can create a piece about that person, which means that it is specially We’re saying it was created,” Purser said.

Although he no longer sells his creations, which consist of bowls and Christmas ornaments, he shares his passion with his grandchildren and gives them his creations as gifts.

When Jeff Purser turns the lathe, he finds a pile of wood chips.

As Jeff Purser works on his lathe, wood chips start to pile up. (Spectrum News 1/Sydney McCoy)

“The best gift ever is not the one you receive, but the one you give to someone. And that’s the fun part, being able to actually create something with your own hands. My imprint is on it,” Purser said.

Purser said he often uses wood he collects from fallen and cut trees, but he also enjoys North Carolina’s native trees, which attract many turners.

“The species diversity in the eastern part of the country is much better than in the western part. So we have a lot of different types of trees: walnut, cherry, oak, catawba,” Purser said.

The symposium, held at the Greensboro Coliseum, brings together turners from around the world to showcase their crafts in wood and other media, lathed from plastic and blue jeans.

“You can come to the symposium, look at the galleries and see the pieces that people have brought in for display. Some of them are for sale. This is an art form and it doesn’t have to die.” Purser said.

Not all areas of the symposium will be open to the public. For more information on vendors and gallery public opening hours, please visit: Symposium website.



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