My Collaborator

My mentor, benefactor and collaborator helping me take a break from turning.

When I speak of the wood turnings that I do I usually refer them as “our” pieces. I feel that there is equal input from my wife Arlene in almost every piece. Often that input makes the difference between a so-so piece and one that really hits the mark. Some of them would never have been produced without her inspiration. At the very least I query her on my decisions regarding colour, form and texture to confirm that I am on the right track.

Arlene considers herself “not an artist”, but I beg to differ. Her understanding of colours and the way they work together indicates that she has a keen visual preference. At first, she didn’t understand the difference between a good and not-so-good form. I would bring pieces in that I felt were off in some way – perhaps a flat spot in a curve or a bottom that made the piece look heavy. By and by she began to understand the significance of form and now I can’t get away with anything. 🙂 Often when I am stumped on a design or technical snag, I will ask her opinion. I have found that she is what I like to refer to as “not all messed up by convention”. That is to say, as a non-wood turner, she doesn’t know that this or that can’t be done. Often my response will be, “No. That won’t work because … but… Hey. Wait a minute. You’re right. I could just…”. It’s often the fresh perspective that gets me over the hump. Her mind has even reached the place where she will say, “You know what you should do…”. Not bad for a non-artist.

Absolutely the most important part of our artistic partnership is her gift of time. And not just simply time itself, but the freedom of mind that lets my mind go where it has to to come up with the things that I do. In my past life I was unable to allow myself the time and freedom to engage an idea long enough to have it take flight. Our relationship is such that we are both unencumbered by any negative issues between ourselves, so there are no distractions. My time is free because my mind is free. What a  gift! For my part, when she is clearly suffering from cabin fever, we’re off to the pub for lunch or head out on the bikes for a  ride. Turning can wait in those cases. Not a bad trade: I win either way. 🙂

My freedom extends to my lathe. I love my lathe and only have it because she insisted that I get what I needed to do the job correctly. Her part of the bargain was that whenever she said she wanted to keep a piece, it was hers. Hence the “That’s Not Leaving The House” series. 🙂

I enjoy  wood turning and what we have accomplished together. I wouldn’t even be close to where I am without my “collaborative assistant”. I love my wife and my life. Thank you for everything, Arlene.

As always, comments and critiques are welcome.

About Ed Pretty

I am a professional woodturner, specializing in gallery work, commercial work, teaching and demonstrating. I have been turning since 1958, so... a long time. I use this site to present my work to the public at large and to let people know that I am available for teaching private lessons in woodturning. Wood turning is one of my passions (the other is motorcycle touring). It is my desire to pass on everything that I have learned over the years to others so that the craft of woodturning will grow.
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