Tiny wood shavings are finding their way into Cape Fear Community College and they aren’t being tracked in by students’ shoes.
For the first time this spring, the school is offering a woodturning course taught by volunteers from the Wilmington Area Woodturners Association.
WHQR’s Jessica Ferrer attended the class, where head instructor Byron Rosbrugh showed his students how to shape a goblet.
“See the block starts off square and they are turning it into a round cylinder so then they can make the goblet from a round cylinder.”
Each student is working with their own lathe, which looks like a complicated sewing machine, but instead of turning thread into clothes, it turns wood into art.
As the machine runs, Rosbrugh uses small strokes with a sharp, fluted tool called a bowl gouge to shave pieces off of the wood.
The Woodturners Association has held demonstrations at schools across the region, but this is the group’s first ongoing course.
“We agreed that we would try it once and see how many people, and I think they had something like 36 people want to come to the class. We can only handle eight-ten because of the equipment and because of the size of the facilities, but there’s a tremendous interest in it.”
Along with woodturning, new classes such as glass blowing, crocheting, and playing steel drums are being offered as part of the school’s Heritage Arts program.
Any of these classes are free to seniors. Rosbrugh’s course has a waitlist, and as long as there is interest, the class will continue in the future.
Rosbrugh’s own interest in woodturning started about 40 years ago.
“I didn’t know much about it at the time but I wanted to have a lathe. I couldn’t buy a lathe because they didn’t really make them in production. Sears had one for sale but it was too much money, it was $75 and I couldn’t afford that, so I made my own lathe.”
Now Rosburgh is a master turner and president of the Woodturners Association, passing on his hobby to others, like student Duncan McCabe.
McCabe is first to finish turning his cylinder and he’s already thinking about the other steps that will give his goblet its recognizable shape.
“We’ve got to make the cup, the bowl of the goblet, and so that will be a hollowing step, and then we do the contours on the outside of the goblet.”
When he’s all done in the workshop and takes his goblet home, he’ll put a finish on it to prevent cracking and to make it food-safe. Along with time in the workshop, students also hear a short lecture from Rosbrugh.
“It’s not what you make, but how you make it. If every class that you attend here you come here with a new technique, a new way to make something, in a gentle fashion, you’ll be much more precise and much more artistic in the long run. And that’s what we’re all looking for.”
Mastering the goblet will help the students with more challenging projects. By the time their goblets are filled with wine, the students will have also made other useful objects.
Blocks of wood will be transformed into everything from a bowl for salad, a lidded-box for tiny treasures, and a platter for gourmet cheeses.
For more information about the Heritage Arts program at Cape Fear, call 910-362-7589.