Woodcraft at its roots

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Clarke Reader
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A first look at some of the objects on display at the Foothills Art Center Community Gallery, and a visitor might think they are looking at glass or ceramic works.

But they’re not. Everything on display is made out of wood.

The Four Masters of Colorado Woodturning exhibit will be in the FAC’s Community Gallery, 1510 Washington St. in Golden, through March 15. The four artists whose work is on display are Trent Bosch, Jon Garcia, Keith Gotschall and Paul Stafford.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and admission is free.

“We’ve been interested in really exploring the world of woodturning, and thought we’d start with a smaller show,” said curator Marianne Lorenz. “If this show goes well we’ll maybe be looking at a bigger show in 2014.”

Woodturning is when an artist uses a lathe to create their pieces of art, and what makes it unique is that the wood is moving while a stationary tool is used to cut and shape it.

“Woodturning is a very old art that was used to create chair legs and spindles by woodworkers called ‘bodgers’ in the Middle Ages,” Gotschall said. “A lot of us learned this skill in our industrial arts or shop classes in school, and are now coming back to what used to just be a hobby.”

The craft has grown, and Gotschall estimates there are around 300 woodturning clubs in the country, with at least four in Colorado.

Lorenz said there are all kinds of different ways for wood lathes to be used, and that is what accounts for the great variety in the work on display.

“One of the most common things people think when they hear woodturning is salad bowls, but there are so many different techniques like etching and piercing that we have on display,” she said. “There is a real variety of techniques and different types of wood at play in these pieces.”

Gotschall started as a woodworker who created mostly furniture, but was participating in a Boulder Open Studio Tour, and saw somebody working with a lathe.

“The whole reason I got into this was the lathe, which really has become all encompassing,” he said. “There’s something really alluring, really beautiful about the lathe and the work you can do on it.”

He was also drawn to the speed with which one could work, and the new areas for design it opened up.

Gotschall’s works can be extremely intricate, and he plans them carefully before taking the wood to the lathe.

“It really is in exercise in craftmanship, because its so refined and the work needs to be super crisp,” he said. “You can really take it as far as you want to — it’s an open-ended craft — and you can almost go anywhere you want.”

Gotschall said that all woodturning artists work in different ways, and that should be readily evident at the exhibit.

“We picked artists we thought were doing out-of-the-box type work,” Lorenz said. “For people who visit, we’d really like them to understand that woodturning has become not just a way to create utilitarian objects, but also a way to create art.”

For more information on the exhibit, call 303-279-3922 or visit www.foothills

artcenter.org.

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