Stephen Landau


Turning a bowl involves a spinning block of wood and a sharp tool; added to this is a dance that the turner and his gouge perform with the wood. The dance is controlled by the eyes continuously assessing the form as it develops and directing every part of the body to make fine adjustments, in order to refine the shape and to respond to what the wood is communicating to the turner. The dance begins with feet placement and body position, your weight is shifting, and your knees are bending in coordination with the movement of your torso. Simultaneous with these movements, your arms, wrists, and hands are manipulating the gouge by pushing, twisting, elevating, and swinging the tool in and arc. All these as well as other fine movements must be in simultaneous harmony to achieve the best cut and form. Sometimes you just can’t find the “beat”, or you have an uncooperative dance partner, but when you “nail it” and the form is great, and the wood surface is beautifully cut, it’s slightly magical, and totally satisfying.