I recently attended a week-long studio at the Appalachian Center for Craft, near Smithville, TN. It’s a beautiful campus tucked into a bend of Center Hill Lake on the edge of the Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee. As the fine arts campus of Tennessee Tech, they offer BFAs in several focus areas including ceramics, glass, wood, metal, fibers, and design. The instructor for the course was Al Stirt, a professional wood artist who has been creating turned objects for forty years.
While the focus of the studio was surface embellishment in the form of carving and coloring techniques, we spent a great deal of time just turning, which was incredibly helpful. Taking a week off of work and doing nothing but your craft is a great experience and I strongly recommend that anyone seek out this opportunity.
Much of the course was about technique and method so while I have a lot of pieces that I started, I only finished a few. Below are some images of some work that I started there and finished at home. Additionally, I’ve done several other similar pieces since I returned. These are a mixture of Cherry, Yellow Poplar, and Sassafras, with milk paint and copper and gold leaf that has been patinaed after application. I really like the removing the lid to find a surprise inside in the way of a different material/look/feel.
Yellow Poplar, approximately 11″ x 7″ with Copper leaf
Cherry, approximately 7″ square with Copper leaf
Cherry, approximately 7″ x 7″ with Gold leaf.
Cherry, approximately 7″ square. I like to call this texture “decay” as it reminds me of the insect tracks that can commonly be found just under the bark of a log rotting in the woods.
Sassafras, approximately 11″ square,with Copper leaf. I really like the combination of textures here – the separation reinforces the roundness of the square piece.
Sassafras, approximately 11″ square, with Copper leaf.
Sassafras, approximately 8″ x 5″ with copper leaf. Again, I really like the way the texture reinforces the elongated nature of this piece.