Above, wood blanks in a variety of colors and patterns await turning. Right, Laura prepares to drill a wood blank.
I selected a rosy-colored wood blank and rounded away its edges on the lathe. Below, the rough wood blank is held between the headstock and tailstock of the lathe. Beneath it the sample cowbell beater sits as a model.
In the second photo below, Laura demonstrates how to hold the tool to cut grooves on the drumstick.
At Turned Treasures wood-turning school in Belleville, Illinois, I learned to turn a wood blank into a cowbell beater (a heavy-duty drumstick). Laura & Jon Spelbring taught me how. Getting started rounding the corners off the wood blank was the most challenging part for me.
It's not as easy as it looks. But after a while the rhythm of the machine, the spinning wood is calming, almost hypnotic. It's like a dance.
Next is sanding, then waxing the stick.
Last, you part the stick from the lathe.
Always remember your ABC's and have fun with it! Kudos to Laura and Jon for creating a space where maladroits like yours truly can learn wood-turning, and where wood artists can display and sell their beautiful, imaginative works. Below, bowls made by Laura and Jon in the style of wood-turning artist Nick Agar.
He boarded the Metro at 5th & Missouri, bored and bombastic, assessing the riders. He greeted a friend with a nuclear "WHaT's UP NiGGER" and sat on the edge of a two-seater. Each pair of seats had at least one rider; mine held me and my suitcase.
At the front of the car stood a man in his late 60's in a red shirt because the Cardinals were back and he held the hand of a golden-haired two-year-old, her whole body straining toward that first pair of seats where one man sat unseeing. Her (grandfather?) may have refused the offer of a seat had anyone done so -- but nobody did.
Meanwhile, the star of our show was rolling herb in a brown paper. No conductors ride that train, the stations have no turnstiles to jump; admission is strictly free will donation. Somewhere around the University of Missouri a well-dressed woman with blond hair boarded with two large suitcases and he began "hitting" on her and razzing here about blocking herself in with the suitcases. That's a real fortress you got there. You shouldn't shut yourself off from people. You come back again, I'll be here waiting for you.
People around him looked tense and uncomfortable. A young woman of color left at the next stop with a look of relief. He moved to her seat and turned his attention toward me. Asked me for something to eat. I offered an apple and he accepted. Then he asked me for money. I refused. Munching on the apple, he returned to harassing the woman with the suitcases. Getting nowhere, he shouted past me to a friend sitting a few seats back.
I was watching the young child, who kept wanting to sit, but her grandfather held her arm firmly. She seemed tired. I wondered why they were still travelling west, having passed the stadium, when the young man in front of me asked if I swallowed an apple seed would it grow inside me.
I said, are you talking to me? He said yes. I said I was concerned for the little one up front. He said you should be concerned for all the children, especially the fatherless ones. What makes you think I'm not, I asked, curious about his judgment, his assumptions. Because you only said that little one, he said, moving his head toward the little girl. You should be concerned for all the fatherless children. Again I said, what makes you think I'm not?
As we spoke the man and the little girl got off the train, joining a group of red-shirted people on the platform.
A few minutes later my interrogator disembarked. I wished I'd asked him to plant an apple seed, and many more good things, in East St. Louis.
The woman with the suitcases had been visiting her daughter, she said. She was a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines and didn't usually fly to St. Louis. Did I know where their gate was, she asked. Sorry, I don't, I said. I'm not a frequent flyer.