Big Hearted Woodturners Offer More Than Just Pen Turning Lessons - Part 2

October 20th, 2010

These photographs were taken by Rick Myers and Darryl Schilling,
members of the Bayou Woodturners, who presented a woodturning
program to students at East St. John High School in Reserve, Louisiana.
The article about the project was featured in our previous catalogue.

Click here to see the previous article.













Big Hearted Woodturners Offer More Than Just Pen Turning Lessons - Part 1

August 19th, 2010

As part of their club’s Youth Outreach endeavors, eleven members of the Bayou Woodturners, a New Orleans area chapter of the American Association of Woodturners, recently conducted a half day demo and hands-on pen turning workshop for students at East St. John High School in the outlying community of Reserve, Louisiana. Developed over several weeks by Rick Myers at the request of the school’s Talented in Visual Arts Department, headed by his wife Carol Jane Myers, the scope quickly grew to include students in other classes, including Wood Shop.

   Initial planning assessed the Wood Shop’s previously underutilized equipment, tools, supplies, and their condition. From there, several objectives quickly developed that included: Cover safety, terminology, and other basics with an initial demo and follow with a turning opportunity for approximately thirty 10th – 12th grade students, assisted by experienced woodturners supplying their own lathes and tools for the event.

    They emphasized the immense variety of items producible on a lathe while starting new turners with a project that an inexperienced person can complete in one session. From tools, equipment, and finishes, including emphasis on the variety of ways available to produce a similar basic end result.

Expose potential new turners to the self satisfaction and myriad rewards of transforming somewhat ordinary pieces of wood into eye-popping objects of beauty and utility.

 Revive administrators’ interest in woodworking in general, with emphasis on woodturning in particular.

   Develop processes, lines of communication, and plans for ongoing Youth Outreach support of woodturning at interested schools.

    Coupled with the Bayou Woodturners’ ongoing contributions to The Freedom Pens Project—a  project that to date has supplied over 110,000 custom turned pens at no cost to deployed U.S. armed forces members in appreciation for their service—a pen turning workshop for the students was a natural choice.

   Prior to the event, the teachers were supplied with the Penn State Industries pen turning instructional DVD, slimline pen assembly instructions, and suggestions for an optional assignment the students could utilize to develop ideas for pen types and shapes. In a last minute surprise, the school’s Principal also invited the entire 9th grade to participate!

    Considering the logistics of suddenly handling over 150 students, we accommodated the 9th graders as observers only, thus whetting their appetite to participate the next time. Throughout the day of the workshop, in groups of 2 or 3 classes, these 9th graders arrived, each shift spending an hour or more getting their questions answered while viewing the pen turning, sanding, finishing, and assembly activities of their older classmates as well as the variety of turnings on the Instant Gallery table.

  Through the generosity of participating woodturners, the original 10th – 12th grade students were provided with enough additional materials to produce their first pen for Freedom Pens, a second pen to keep for themselves, and any subsequent pens again for donation to Freedom Pens.

    As a result, the participating students discovered new abilities in areas of interest that might never have been developed without the exposure from the workshop. Administrators gained insight into the value of a strong woodturning program, including the generous support available from area woodturners. The experienced woodturners had a blast and everyone—students, teachers, and turners–is eager to have another workshop.

    From experienced woodturners helping students, to students learning to make pens for donation as well as themselves, perhaps the best lesson of the event was discovering the pleasure and satisfaction derived from giving back to your community—especially when you can do it through woodturning.

— Rick Myers

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