March 21, 2006

If You Are a Turner, Read This

If you are a woodturner, or have an interest in the field, there is an upcoming event that should not be missed: the Fifth New England Woodturning Symposium. The date is May 13, and the location is Derry, NH (just south of Manchester) at Pinkerton Academy. This is an event that I have a very personal involvement in, since I founded this series of Symposia in 1997, and have been the Overall Coordinator each time around.

On the big day, we will be putting on 28 demonstrations covering almost every aspect of turning. The presenter come from as far away as Minnesota, Quebec, and Pennsylvania. There is also a terrific Trade Show, and something called the "Instant Gallery"... every turner who comes to the event is invited to bring one or two items for the Gallery, so it becomes an incredible display of turned objects that inspires and dazzles. I am guessing that there will be over 500 objects in the Instant Gallery this year.

Registration for the event is only $50, and that even includes lunch! But you need to sign up soon. We limit registration to the first 300 who send in their form, and we always sell out. With two months to go, we are just about 2/3 towards being fully subscribed, so clearly time is of the essence. You can find out more info, and download a registration form from this site:

There are also several aspects of the event that are open to the public without the need to register. The Trade Show, the Instant Gallery, and four of the demonstrations (particularly oriented towards beginners) will be available to everyone. To gain access to the areas where the other demonstrations occur, you will need a badge.

As an aside, one of the things I am most proud is that the NE Turning Symposia are a huge fundraiser for worthy causes related to woodworking. All of the participants in the event (demonstrators and organizers alike) volunteer their time, the facility at Pinkerton is provide gratis by the school, and the other expenses are very minimal. Over the years, we have generated a profit of about $35,000! One specific project that has benefited from this is the extensive scholarhip and grants program that is offered by the Guild of NH Woodworkers. This program was started with seed money from the Symposium, and one third of our profit still goes to this fund.

The Turning Symposium is the largest woodworking event in New England, and it ONLY HAPPENS ONCE EVERY THREE YEARS! So sign up right away!!!

March 20, 2006

Another Creative Interest: Video

I am always busy with my regular wood lampshade business, so it seems a bit odd to me that I felt the need to find another creative outlet. Nevertheless, that is just what I have done.

This past Autumn and Winter, I created artistic and unusual DVD that is a collaboration with my wife (Kathy Lowe), who recently released a new CD "Above Water." The music on this recording represents a sound adventure unlike anything you have every heard before: soothing, mysterious, ethereal, and spiritual. Kathy recorded the main vocal tracks into the side of a million gallon water tank, taking advantage of the incredible natural reverb generated by the airspace in the tank. The songs are elegant in their chant-like simplicity, while layered with nuance and unexpected pleasures that give a depth and haunting beauty that will stick with you forever.

I recorded the video for this on a short section of a brook that is near the water tank where Kathy sang for the CD. Some of the footage was shot during foliage season, the rest while ice was forming on the edges of the brook. Much of what I shot is very closeup scenes, often unrecognizable for what it captures. When I edited the footage into the final movie, I chose to use quite long shots, averaging around 30 seconds. The combination of the subject matter and the the editing, accompanied by Kathy's music, makes for a mulitmedia meditative experience that is beautiful, relaxing and hypnotic. The quality of the production is professional and crisp, and the response from the many people who have seen this this project is uniformly ethusiastic.

If you go to, you can see a short segment of the video, compressed to work as a download. The entire DVD includes 6 of Kathy's new songs and is 28 minutes long. We sell the DVD for $15. The CD is also $15, or you can buy both for $25. Kathy's music can also be heard at

I am totally unclear about where this project will lead me. Certainly I have no intention of cutting back on my production of the lampshades. I have a long term interest in video, mainly thru my volunteer activities with the Guild of NH Woodworkers. Thru that organization, I have helped create a huge library of over 100 demonstration videos, and last winter when I was injured, I transfered all those tapes to DVD format. So I have had the equipment and the technical skills, and now I am inspired to uses those to work on creative projects.

There is one strong connection between my lampshades and this new video projecct: they both provide an experience that emphasizes relaxation, calmness, intimacy and an appreciation for the gifts of nature. So in the end, perhaps these two disparate creative endeavors are really just branches of the same tree.