When I started into woodworking, it was limited to "flat work". By flat work, I mean items like picture frames, pipe racks, small treasure chests or small furniture items. These were all crafted from flat stock, that was sawn into workable pieces for a particular item I was working on. Back in the 7th grade, I recall turning a lamp, on a lathe, and remember how much fun it was to create a round, smooth finished product from flat, square stock. I hadn't considered woodturning as I got older, until I was given my Grandfathers old wood lathe. He to, enjoyed wood working and had incorporated lathe work to his aresnal. As I started to set up his old lathe, I realized it would take considerable amount of space in my already cramped garage shop. To avoid this I opted to purchased a low cost mini lathe that would work better in my small shop. And if it proved not to be my "thing" I wouldn't be out much space in the shop. As it turned out, though, I felt quite at home in front of the lathe.
Working on the wood lathe is a very addicting activity, and before you know it, you've been standing amidst flying wood chips for a few hours! Once I gained some experience, I started making pens and gifting them to family and friends. It wasn't long before a few requests to purchase pens started to come in and the lathe was a main fixture in the shop. I have also started inlaying various materials in the voids of beautiful burled wood from around the world, as well as creating segmented pens. The outcome has been pieces that have been hard to put down.
Stepping outside of the typical "spindle" turning process it takes to create a pen and easing into artistic bowl and vessel creation has been very rewarding. Not in a financial way, mind you, but in a creative release sort of way. I've always felt a sense of accomplishment when creating a nice treasure chest or a nice Cocobolo pen, but creating a small vase that more closely resembles an art form than it does a utilitarian item is especially nice. Many of my pieces are turned while the wood is green and then allowed to dry. As the wood dries, in many cases, it slightly warps as the moisture escapes the wood fibers. This leaves you with a turning that is truly one of a kind. I feel I've succeeded in creating something worthwhile and artistic when I have a hard time putting it down or can't take my eyes away from it. All of my turned pieces (except pens) are marked with my "CLH" insignia, the year the piece was created and the wood species. The only exception to this are a handful of my earlier pieces which only have my "CLH" insignia and the year. An example of my insignia is shown below.
Chris L. Hendrick