Thursday, September 14, 2017

Matthew...Wood Turner Wanna Be

"Mom, I really don't want to grow up, but it's kinda strange that I just spent the evening drinking (and liking) black coffee and hanging out with a bunch of older men."

About six months ago, maybe more, Matthew began to express a serious interest in wood turning. This is not, I quickly discovered, something to be confused with wood working. Wood turning is the using of a lathe machine to shape wood...often into bowls, vases, and other assorted things. It might be fair to say that Matthew quickly became obsessed with the notion of wood turning - he began researching it, contemplating which lathe to purchase, watching endless (mind numbing) Youtube videos, and talking about it rather endlessly (did I mention mind numbing already?).

For a while, I viewed his obsession as merely the latest thing that he was interested in (we've gone through a lot of interests this past year alone)...but the months went by and his interest waned not the slightest. When, sometime in July when I was planning our homeschooling year, I asked him what he would like to learn about this winter, his first response was "wood turning." (Note: his second response was ice fishing...another real winner in my books...)

So...I scoured the internet, searching for places to start. Nowhere in the public schooling system could I find classes in wood turning, and the city had nothing to offer either. And then, eureka...I found it...the name of the provincial wood turners' association. Who knew??!!?? The website was a little out of date, but I contacted the person named on the site and was rather surprised to receive a response within 24 hours.  He directed me to someone whom he thought might still teach classes out of his home.

Enter Herm. A lovely, somewhat-older gentleman who has been passionately turning wood for decades. Even better, he is still happy to teaches youngsters and was happy to meet with Matthew for the purpose of deciding whether or not there might be a fit.

They fit.

Geoff took Matthew to Herm's house that first evening and Matthew came home a few hours later in raptures. If he could have shouted from the roof the passion he felt about wood turning in that moment, he would have. The long and short of it is that, beginning in October, Matthew is going to take regular wood turning classes from Herm.

(Ice fishing is another story altogether.)

And so tonight, as the newest member of the Wood Turners' Association, Matthew (with Geoff as his side-kick) was invited to the season's opening night, where there would be lathe demonstrations, presentations by individuals who had completed projects over the summer and, of course, the business portion of the evening.

Matthew was apparently the only person under 50, and he was greeted by the other members heartily and with excitement. Apparently, during the business portion of the meeting (I am completely dumbfounded that Matthew sat through an hour long business meeting of Wood Turners!), Matthew was given a front row seat and he was referenced several times throughout.  One gentleman later gave him a partially-turned wooden bowl and suggested that Matthew finish it before the next meeting.

In addition to that bowl, Matthew came home sporting a (worn, sawdust encrusted) leather wood-turning satchel, and some kind of tool that is now occupying part of the garage foot print, both of which were purchased from a fellow wood turner who'd brought his for-sale items from home. More importantly, Matthew came home sporting a large grin and great attitude.

I have no idea how long this passion will endure for my 13-year-old son, but we are homeschoolers, after all, and this is what we do: Help our children pursue their passions and gain life experience, with solid adult mentorship, sometimes in a way that is a little different than mainstream.

As I look into my future, I see kitchen cupboards full of bowls...lots and lots of wood turned bowls...



  1. This : "If he could have shouted from the roof the passion he felt about wood turning..." and this : "Matthew sat through an hour long business meeting of Wood Turners" made me laugh out loud. But I laughed with delight because this is just awesome. What a unique opportunity for him - good for you for helping him with it.

    1. Thanks Jillian...I still chuckle just to think about it...and I chuckled again when I read that YOU laughed!

      Love it!


  2. This is wonderful! So good for Matthew and just think how tickled those older fellas are!

    1. Right?! I can totally see a group of older men being so passionate about something that they want to share it with the next generation...and there is Matthew, just at the right moment!