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Creative Carvers

Southeast Indiana Woodturners
create beauty from ordinary

They meet regularly and help educate
others about the craft

HOLTON, Ind. (September 2019) – In 2008, Gerald Williams of Holton, Ind., went to a wood show in Indianapolis. As a blacksmith, he found himself fascinated by a woodturning demonstration. “Before long, I was turning every day,” Williams said. “I met three guys from my area who were hoping to find someplace closer than Cincinnati to wood turn. Three turned into four, then four turned into 70.”
Now Williams is a founding member of the Southeastern Indiana Woodturners, which is part of the American Association of Woodturners. Most of the members are from southern Indiana, with several hailing from Indianapolis, Bedford, Greensburg, North Vernon, Seymour and Franklin. The Southeastern group meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month from September-April.

Photo by Sydney G. Wilson

Members of the Southeastern Indiana Woodturners are (from left) Gerald Williams, Rick Shaffer, Barbara Eades, Joe Spurlock, Tom Cassidy and Don Barnes. Each is holding something they’ve created.

“The emphasis of the club is learn to turn,” said Williams. “We have four lathes and offer informal mentoring. There are at least a dozen people in our group who have been turning for 10 years or better.”
Each club meeting hosts a short business meeting at the beginning, as well as show and tell. “We get to see everyone’s new projects, and they have the chance to tell and talk about it. That’s one of the highlights of the meeting.” Williams said that their meetings are well attended, with around 30-35 members attending each time.
“Most of our members can work from home and have their own lathes, so we trade a lot of information. It used to be an old man’s club, but now we have four or five women who have joined us,” Williams said.
“Our youngest member is a senior in high school, and our oldest is 85. He’s still turning and doing beautiful work.”
Barbara Eades, one of the group’s newer members, said that she has learned many skills from the more experienced members of the group. “This group is filled with good mentors who are willing to share their talents, knowledge and expertise. They’re always willing to help you turn out a beautiful piece,” she said.
The club will have a table in front of Art on Main art gallery over the Madison Chautauqua weekend, Sept. 28-29, in Madison. “We’ll have some of our projects for sale, but our goal is primarily to get young people interested. Kids ages 9 and up will have a chance to turn their own pen,” said Williams.
The group participates in several events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Indiana Hardwood Festival and Lumberjack Contest in Cloverdale, Ind., and the Pumpkin Show in Versailles, Ind. One of their main events this year is the Friendship Flea Market in Friendship, Ind. The group will be at the event for 10 days in September, when they will also have projects for sale and will provide a different woodturning demonstration every day.
The Southeastern Indiana Woodturners also participate in several charitable initiatives.
“We provide a scholarship to a Madison Consolidated High School art student in memory of Gary Chapman, one of our former presidents,” said Williams. Chapman, who taught woodworking at the high school during his career and was a Chautauqua exhibitor, died Sept., 16, 2018.
“We also provide another through the American Legion in Versailles for one of the art students at the Career Center.”
The group also makes Purple Heart pens for injured soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital, provides woodturned bowls for the Indiana Diabetes Foundation, donates completed work to the Batesville Arts Program, and provides education at the Big Oaks Outdoor Women events.
The Southeastern Indiana Woodturners are always open to new members and welcomes those who want to learn the skill, and one of the biggest incentives of the group is that they do not charge for teaching. “Our first recommendation for anyone who is interested in woodturning is to join a club. Come to one meeting, and you’ll learn how to turn a bowl or a pen. You’ll walk away with one of those that day, “ said Rick Shaffer, president of the group.
Visitors will find a group of kind and knowledgeable individuals who are in the business of turning something ordinary into something special. “Most of our projects started out as firewood. We don’t look at trees the same way anymore. Someone is always bringing in a truckload of wood,” said Wheeler.
“We have an immense amount of wood show up at meetings. We haven’t bought a piece of wood and can’t give it away fast enough,” echoed Tom Cassidy, one of the group’s original members.
Barb Eades agreed, saying, “Waste for someone else is something beautiful for us.”

• Those interested in learning more may call (812) 689-6545 for additional information.

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