When people ask me “What does you’re husband do?” I answer “He turns bowls.” Most haven’t a clue what that means. “Oh, he does pottery?” “No, wood.” “You mean he is a carver?” “No, he is a bowl-turner.” There is a lack of information out there about what exactly a bowl-turner is and how the heck does one turn a bowl. Many even ask how one makes a living from turning bowls.
I remember the time my six-year-old boy and I introduced his cello playing to his elementary school in Ohio. “What is a cello?” the classmates asked. He told them, and he demonstrated how to play the cello. He even played in several assemblies. What was he known as? “The boy who plays the big guitar!” They could relate to this.
Not many women can relate to a turned bowl, so I explain, often show pictures, invite them to Doug’s shop and better yet, have them actually hold a turned bowl. This offers them proof that he does indeed turn them out of wood.
Men usually have some understanding of bowl making. They have taken a woodworking class in high school where some have even experienced bowl turning on a lathe. Others enjoy the hobby of bowl turning, and they love to share the details of their projects. Their next question is, “Is your husband a bowl-turner by trade?” And the next conclusion expressed resolutely is often, “Oh, you’re married to an artist.” Now the starving artist metaphor is in place, and I explain how my husband turns uniquely thin, beautiful bowls.
At this point, some marvel while others don’t believe me, as I have been known to exaggerate. So again, if possible I invite them to check the website. Those who end up visiting the shop finally understand. It’s fun to see and hear what I call the “WOW reaction.” Sharing Doug’s art form is always rewarding.
In Doug’s smaller venue days, folks reacted to his work by exclaiming, “You do not belong here.” He was perfectly content to be traveling to local events, fairs, festivals, and markets in Washington. Showing his wares, meeting folks, and sharing his display of wooden bowls satisfied him. After all, that was one of the reasons he moved from the crowds of Nantucket, Massachusetts to be with the friendly, more easy-going population.
He loves setting up his tent in such a beautiful section of the world, being outdoors, and mingling with other vendors, yet he had to admit his product was different from theirs. “These bowls are art pieces” was a frequent remark made by passersby who took the time to try to convince Doug he needed to move on to a higher end market. They caught the vision–even recognizing the Smithsonian quality of his work.
My Favorite Bowl-Turner
My husband loves to go to work, and his shop energizes him. His favorite days are those when the prepared blanks are ready to turn, and those are the days his creativity comes to its height. Upon leaving our home, I have to remind him to eat his lunch and realize he may be late for dinner. The shop door is locked, and he is totally submerged in his art. All his energy of mind and soul is focused directly on turning the bowls. I have come to realize that this is simply a part of my life as the wife of a bowl-turner.
The Byrds song, Turn, Turn, Turn, tells us that there’s a time and a purpose for everything. Life and death, give and receive, cry and laugh… This is Doug’s time to turn his bowls.
Since marrying Doug, my life has definitely turned around. It’s become one filled with both new challenges and new adventures with my bowl-turner by my side.