With every person there ought to be the desire to improve one's skills and develop God-given talents, this applies to farmers, office workers as well as woodturners.
If there is no progress in one's skills, be they tool skills or the ability to come up with a new idea or design, then one becomes stagnant and that's bad news.
If there is stagnation there is the danger that in time we lose interest, and that's sad.
Setting ourselves a high standard in design and execution,
a standard where we have to reach beyond our comfort zone, we'll never get tired of what we're doing.
I started turning in 1982, and have been turning fulltime since 1993, thankfully I'm still as excited as ever about developing my design and turning skills.
When there is improvement and development of ideas and skills there is also a progression or evolution of your work.
When starting out in 1982, I made simple items for the tourist trade (image 1),
the vases were certainly not hollow forms, the forms were simple, lacking elegance with a hole drilled to hold a test tube, but they sold and I thought I'd arrived.
One soon realises there's more to vessels than drilling a hole in a turned piece of wood, so back to the drawing board.
I tried not to copy the ideas or designs of others as such but used them as stepping-stones to improve my own.
In time making simple hollow forms, shapely as they may have been, lost it's challenge, so some texturing was introduced, taking it a step further away from the run of the mill work produced by so many others. Adding some ebonising made it more interesting (image 2).
The time came when that lost its challenge and designs that used to excite became boring, obviously time to move on.
Still using the classic shape some line carving was added (image 3), this satisfied for only a limited time, it was very time consuming and did not do much for me, even though it was commercially viable.
A more bold approach was taken, still using the same classic shape; the top half was heavily sculpted to give the appearance of roots growing down the piece, hence the name "Roots" (image 4).
Not every piece was successful, on one occasion the carving was done
with too much enthusiasm so that a hole appeared.
Time for some redesigning, another twenty or so holes later we had a new design (image 5).
One doesn't have to come up with new ideas all the time, when you have an idea, develop it, let it grow to the next stage.
At present I'm preoccupied with "seedpod" shapes, not new it's been done before (image 6).
Again there's a development there, away from the more abstract to realism, they now have stalks.
The next stage was to texture and stain the outside, drawing the attention to the smooth natural wood grain inside (image 7).
And so it goes on, what's next? I don't know, but there must be growth and development to keep that enthusiasm going.
Looking back one can see how woodturning has evolved, not only in one's own life but also worldwide, from simple turning to an art form.
It's exciting being part of that development!