John Atkinson and his woodworking magic

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John Atkinson, who lives in Kariega, started using a wood lathe every day in 2017. The freedom he found in woodworking changed his life for the better. Mr Atkinson has worked in the automotive industry for his 40 years and now puts his engineering skills to use in the workshop.

He happily traded his corporate attire for hippie-inspired patchwork pants and T-shirts and transformed into an imaginative full-time woodturner.

Inside Atkinson’s workshop, the warm, earthy scent of trees of all shapes and sizes is soothing.

Branches and logs are neatly stacked outside. Offcuts are stored under the work table, and wood shavings surround the lathe where Atkinson usually works.

Although he does not consider himself a traditional woodturner in the purest sense of the word, he does It didn’t take me long to realize that I was actually the purest purist. Art and nature as something beautiful in itself.

Highlighting the cracks in the pieces he creates gives them a distinctive trademark and enhances their overall natural quality.

A piece of messy wild olive with some gaps that John Atkinson decided to fill with resin, mixed with crushed turquoise stone and spun. The structure of the wood determines the final shape of the bowl.Photo: Attached

“The things that inspire me the most are pottery and nature,” he said.

The interesting shapes of Atkinson’s works invite you to touch and hold them. In doing so, you are immediately attracted to its natural shape and the beautiful colors that adorn it, strongly reminding you of nature and its cycles.

Atkinson loves the creative process and talks about learning through trial and error and how ideas come to her naturally as she works and “something happens in your head.”

“We’re not doing the same thing over and over again,” Atkinson said. “What I really enjoy is spinning interesting objects that aren’t just regular bowls or objects, or using wood that isn’t perfect.

“Once I rotate the piece, I find great joy in adding color and different textures.”

In the decoration process, Atkinson uses a variety of techniques and resources to create a variety of effects, including pyrography, carving, colored stains, resin, semi-precious stones, paint, glass, and natural inlays.

He always returns to nature in his works and is always aware of the natural environment. His respect for the beauty of nature is evident when he talks about the woods he often works with.

“For example, curly maple has a wavy pattern carved into it that does magic when you turn it. You don’t have to do anything.

“So it’s up to the wood. Sometimes you don’t want to do anything with it. It’s just a beautiful magical tree in itself.”

Atkinson enjoys discovering the intricacies of different processes as he continues to perfect his art. Enthusiastic about embedding his creations in lanolin-enriched sheep fleece and finishing them in this way, he commented on the wool industry.

“I was amazed at the complexity of something like the wool industry.”

Membership of the PE Woodturners Guild and the South African Woodturners Association is also a source of inspiration for Atkinson.

“It is enlightening to see the different radical ideas of young people and the technology that goes with them, as well as the valuable thoughts and perspectives shared by our female members.”

He is motivated by learning new things and also loves sharing his knowledge and skills.

“All you need to start woodturning is a lathe and a few chisels. Once you get bitten by a bug, you’re done,” he exclaimed.

Atkinson has participated in art exhibitions and sells her work at craft markets.

Before leaving, Atkinson shared his motto with me. When he attended a Wood Turner Society symposium, there was a potter who gave a presentation on form.

“If you can imagine it, you can create it,” he said. It’s clear that this is what Atkinson is living through right now.

You’ll leave with memories of the fruity scent of wild olive trees, the feel of wood shavings on your fingertips, and woodworking terms like “grain” and “off-center turning” running through your head. The autumn leaves outside mirror the colors of the bowls he made almost exactly. He marvels at the creativity of individuals.

In the end, perhaps it’s about letting go, getting back to basics, and embracing perfect imperfection.



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