What other turners aren't telling you, and how that relates to "innovative spirit"!

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by odie, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. Betty Scarpino

    Betty Scarpino

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    Sergio, in some sense, the line you quoted from me: "I would normally want the author to reveal all techniques or secrets" is out of context. I'm referring to being editor of a journal, where articles, written by experts, tell others how to achieve success in making something. Keeping back essential information is (generally) not good policy.

    However, if a turner or artist or baker or "The Master" wants to keep special techniques secret, that's her prerogative, but don't pretend to teach or demonstrate as though you are revealing everyting. But with that said, I agree there is a difference between the apprentice system and current methods of learning a craft. It takes years to truly master a craft. One or two classes or demonstrations does not make someone an expert. (Although he may believe he is.)

    For me personally, I freely share the techniques and methods I have learned over the years. Doing so enriches my life.

    The exciting, fun part of what we do is the hours we spend in our shops exploring new techniques and methods.

    Betty Scarpino, Editor, American Woodturner
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
  2. hu lowery

    hu lowery

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    kinda skimmed but sometimes sharing information isn't possible

    Sometimes sharing information is dangerous unless you are face to face with a person and can assess their level of skill. After assessing their level of skill you might consider the information safe to share, you might not.

    I interacted with the world's best rifle and load tuners and marksmen for years. We were way out on the fringes of development in some areas. The books simply say to paraphrase only slightly, "do this and die!" No way to share some of this information with even very experienced typical reloaders and tinkerers. A person has to fully understand all aspects of what they are doing.

    Building race car engines was another area, sharing my information with someone that wasn't going to incorporate all of it would cost them thousands of dollars and they would blame me for their poor implementation. I built a very successful engine. I explained to the person I sold it to how it had to be rebuilt. It was sold a couple more times, rebuilt, and came to pieces ten minutes later at a fast idle in the shop!

    I needed a skew for a small project a few weeks ago. I still don't own a skew. Knowing the dangers and how to mitigate them I used a high quality wood chisel to take care of things. I won't routinely use a wood chisel as a skew and I surely won't tell anyone else to use one but I needed a specialty tool and made it on my wood lathe.

    Unique ideas and patents are another can of worms. I designed a unique piece of equipment. A grand gentleman of the sport wanted to look at it so I sent him part of it with a guarantee of confidentiality. Three months later a friend of his brought that part of my design to market, unique in several hundred years of the sport! Unless you have been there you can't imagine the long burning anger that creates. Reading all over the internet what a wonderful design he created! Never brought my full design to market and it will be a blue day in hell before I reveal it unless I decide to bring it to market.

    Hu
     
  3. Betty Scarpino

    Betty Scarpino

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    Agree about the sometimes-dangerous-to-share comment. Not every demonstrator understands that, though. And then there are the students who simply ought not to be using sharp tools, no matter how competent the teacher! :eek:

    Your unfortunate experience of having someone violate a request of confidentiality is not uncommon and it recently happened in the turning field. It was painful for the turner who shared his proprietary, personal technique (after much badgering and agreeing to confidentiality). He won't do that again and no doubt neither will you.

    Betty Scarpino, Editor, American Woodturner
     
  4. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Too bad that you didn't know about NDA's at the time and I am guessing that you also didn't properly document the development of your new invention. Both are necessary for your protection if you need to share information about it. If it was something that you truly did have plans to patent and market then you received a lesson on what not to do the hard way.
     
  5. Brian McInturff

    Brian McInturff

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    This subject is so broad. If I've developed a unique tool and don't want it copied then I would have my patent prior to taking it to market. Artistic design is a big grey area. I know some turners like to think they have a certain trademark design, some on form, some on finials, etc. and I've seen some get upset over "their" design being copied. Kind of ridiculous since the basis of the design is copied to begin with. I, myself go through books and mags looking for a design that will work for a given blank.
    As for proprietary technique, that's interesting. What's going to happen to the art media industry with the technology advancing in the 3d printer market?
     
  6. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    wood presentation (display) or technique in turning rotation

    major consideration

    audience.........galley viewer or turners of range of ablity
     
  7. hu lowery

    hu lowery

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    patents and intellectual properties



    Bill,

    I had already worked in R&D on military projects for one company and was the VP of another R&D corporation. Not big operations but the owner of the company I was VP of held over eighty patents, he made money on two. I had been presented with handfuls of NDA's and ND/NCA's. Some I signed, some I didn't because they were too broad. Design and documentation were my fields of expertise, oversight of subcontractors was added later.

    Unfortunately I know a great deal about patents, copyrights, and defending both. I own over ten thousand copyrighted pieces of work. I still don't make them available on the net for other people to steal.

    Patents are a wonderful thing for multi-million dollar ideas. For small niche items likely to be worth only tens of thousands a year or less patents don't even make good toilet paper.

    I can tell horror stories about patents and intellectual property for days. Simple truth, rights are worth nothing unless you can afford to defend them and few can. Once you send a cease and desist letter and it is ignored you have to make a decision. First who are you fighting? If they are a foreign entity or have very deep pockets, forget about it! If they are a small entity then the question becomes is the idea worth tens of thousands minimum to defend easily rolling into hundreds of thousands. Even if you win a substantial portion of plaintiffs don't get legal expenses covered. You may not get any compensation for losses either, only a cease and desist order against the other maker. One inventor I know of went to court and ultimately got a cease and desist order against him! He lost all rights to his invention with zero compensation of any kind.

    I haven't reviewed patent law from a layman's viewpoint in many years now but the last I knew 10% change and the patent hasn't been violated. Color doesn't count as a change, material usually doesn't. After that the percentage change is in the eyes of the judge or jury. Patent defenses involve huge risks and you are never guaranteed to win no matter how slam dunk of a case you think you have.

    Hu
     
  8. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    OK, now that I know a bit more about your background, it seems like a simple case of someone who was a trustworthy good buddy who turned out to not be very deserving on both counts. Being cheated is bad enough -- cheated by a friend is pretty low.
     
  9. hu lowery

    hu lowery

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    I thought a friend and highly regarded by all



    Bill,

    He was a man I had interacted with a great deal on the internet, both on forums and private communications, had talked to him on the phone a few times, and was one of the most highly regarded men in a sport that was and is well known for many fine gentlemen involved. I don't know if he was deliberately or accidentally involved in the theft of my design, he certainly was involved. I sent him an e-mail about it ten or fifteen years ago. Not positive but beginning to be pretty sure he isn't going to reply.

    I did get the pleasure of hammering the thief in the ground like a tent peg on public forums a time or two. As you would expect the person that designed the unit understood the concepts behind it far better than the thief. That was and is all the satisfaction I'll ever get.

    Edit: Just went and checked, the thief is still making money off my design all these years later!

    Hu
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
  10. Sergio Villa

    Sergio Villa

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    Yes, I took your line out of context and I apologize for that. My point does not apply to an article in a specialized journal. I certainly know this since I've been in a scientific profession all my working life and publish numerous papers in the medical field where everything should be true and repeatable, therefore the section "material and methods" must be exhaustive and clear and the results well detailed.

    But I believe I made my point clear in my two posts: in the pasts nobody would waste their time sharing informations, perhaps except on safety, on a person that was not willing to learn just by watching thus showing lack of interest or skills.

    Once the basic technique and safety is learned it is up to the turner to practice, practice and practice. Today I went to see the Leonardo exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum in NYC. Looking at the drawing of that young girl one understand that everybody interested to learn from Leonardo there is only to spend hours to comprehend the perfection of the Leonardo touch that is there for everybody to appreciate and see, no secrets.

    The mastering of a technique, tools, and medium, took and take years. Now everything is different, we turn for the most part for hobby and the professional teach, at home or in shows and everything is based on speed. I've seen bowl turners demonstrating in shows their skill mainly on incredible speed, showing half a pound chips flying, shaping a bowl in a few seconds. This exercise of speed is certainly useless and dangerous and may be needed in only few particular cases.

    A good turner should be able to keep the shape cleanly at three hundred RPM thus making a single pass in twenty second and not in five. Like they did three hundred years ago: sharp tool, a good hand and no sandpaper!
     
  11. odie

    odie

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    I'm a little envious of those closer to cultural centers of the world, who have access to exhibits like this regularly. Being in the presence of works from time honored masters, must have a certain heavenly effect on one's being.

    It's a little too far reaching to suggest there can be a lot to learn from Leonardo da Vinci, by simply seeing his great works.......because his great works isn't "him". Sure, all that is Leonardo isn't lost to time, but the real physical man, in the flesh, is long gone. The same is true for any master of the arts who is no longer with us.....there is a limited amount of learning that can be done by listening to Paganini's Caprices, or seeing the works of a great turner who has passed, like the late Dale Nish. This isn't to say that nothing can be learned, but the chance to know what was in the internal mental workings of past masters is gone.

    I do understand the value of apprenticeship, and "seeing" the results of a craft happen with your own eyes. That must have been the kind of learning experience that is all but lost to today's world. We can go to a great artist/craftsman's shop and visit.......but the opportunity to do this for a period of years isn't available, but to a very few who are lucky enough to have the time, circumstance, and interest to learn such refined skills. For those who don't have this kind of opportunity, we only have videos, books, and an occasional live demonstration. The same kind of refined skills can be learned, just the same as someone who apprenticed......but, it all depends on the enthusiasm, talent, and internal drive of the individual seeking to achieve that kind of results. We cannot discount the fact that this kind of dedicated person, even though he doesn't have the same learning opportunities, can achieve incredible results, by sheer initiative, dedication, and internal drive......simply because humanity still does, and will always produce this kind of individual.

    ooc
     
  12. hu lowery

    hu lowery

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    looking at the work of masters

    Looking at the work of masters or watching them work can change our understanding of what is possible. Forty years ago I watched a master when he was having a great day, just on TV. It changed my concepts of what was possible and over the next two to three years I achieved a level of performance that I wasn't even attempting before!

    Ten years ago I watched a master who once again expanded my idea of what was possible. Unfortunately I realized my time had passed and it would never be possible for me.

    Things are easier to do once they have been done. In fifteen years of efforts nobody shot a perfect score at a local pistol match. Six hundred was perfect, dozens of 599's and 598's had been shot. One night in a rain squall a shooter with lesser physical abilities tore down the 600 barrier, he understood the mental game. A few years later there had been over a dozen six hundreds shot despite some of the best in the world, masters and grandmasters, and a many time world champion and world record holder shooting in that earlier fifteen years.

    Yesterday's woodturners made functional pieces and the quality often reflected that. The general standard of excellence is far higher now than it has ever been, not only because of tools and techniques but because of expectations also. Depending on what tomorrow brings, the golden age of woodturning is right now.

    Hu
     
  13. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Sergio, the more I read of your posts, the more I appreciate your perspective on turning and art. I thought that it was an interesting coincidence yesterday when I returned home from a day at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth and then read your post regarding art. The Carter is primarily known as a museum focusing on works related to the American west featuring many of the paintings and sculptures of Remington and Russell, but this was the last weekend of a special exhibition that featured paintings and sculptures by Monet, Van Gogh, Marin, Eakins, Feininger, and Picasso.

    I agree with your views that the skills and creativity developed through years of training set those woodturners apart from the average woodturner of today. However, I would like to add my point of view since I am one of those average turners.

    Many, maybe even most, people getting interested in the resurgence of woodturning today are retired. Regardless of how we view the ways that the world has changed, there is no doubt that the apprentice system is a thing of the past. I retired after a career in engineering and had been involved in woodworking most of my adult life, but at that time woodturning was about as foreign to me as anything could possibly be. Things like table legs, balusters, and chair rungs were what I envisioned when I thought about woodturning.

    Despite my ignorance, the woodturning bug bit me after retirement. If woodturning were still considered a skilled craft still requiring a rigid system of years long apprenticeship, it would have immediately quashed my interest and I suspect the same is true for a great many other woodturners today. It wouldn't take much stretch of the imagination to believe that the small industry that has grown in support of woodturning would never have happened without all of the average people who have taken an interest in turning.

    I have taken many classes from professionals as well as attending demonstrations from many more. I don't know of anybody in any of my classes who have had any delusions of greatness after taking any of these classes. Generally, the exact opposite is the case. Regardless of the specific subject matter, the fundamental thing that I gained was enhancement of my turning skills by gaining a new perspective. I have also gained exposure to a great many new ideas. I love turning simply for its therapeutic value. I have zero interest in being a professional turner -- I've already enjoyed a career and now I'm enjoying my retirement. I turn things for my wife, for my friends and relatives, and for fundraising events like the Empty Bowls Project.

    When I see the turned objects on display in the instant gallery at symposiums, I am convinced that today's high level of information sharing is undoubtedly a major factor contributing to the explosive evolution in our art. Perhaps it is not too surprising if we consider that many of the beautiful ornamental turnings of a few centuries ago were created by those who had the resources and the luxury of leisure time for creative pursuits. While the production turners or bodgers were very highly skilled and made beautiful balusters and other spindles as well as other household utility pieces, creating fanciful pieces of art wasn't likely to be on their "to do" list. Of course, today some of their creations that have survived have tremendous value.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  14. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Some studies done across different media suggest that it takes 10,000 hours of work/practice to become successful in the arts.

    One of the beauties of woodturning is that we can be successful at all levels.

    A simple object like a spin top:
    We have had 8 year olds complete 3 in a two hour class
    Bonnie Klein/Jacques Vesery tops sell in the $10,000 - $20,000 range

    I saw the pride of accomplishment in Jacques and Bonnie's eyes and john's eyes too. I think john was more excited.

    I have had an opportunity to see first hand as a student, assistant, and teacher the benefits of taking classes.
    I have become convinced students learn 20 times as much in 5 day class as they do in a 1 day workshop.

    students leave any class with improved skills, confidence, and ideas.

    In a one day workshop all the students complete a project but after a week at their day job few can repeat the project with the level of success the had under the watchful eye.

    5 day classes follow a general pattern
    Day 1 Basic skills and sharpening often with a project familiar to most students
    Days 2-3-4 stretching the students into new directions, more advance skills, forms...
    Day 5 individual work

    In every class an amazing thing happens between day 3 and 4. The students begin interacting with each other on techniques, form.....
    A week after the 5 day class the students retain most of the skills and ideas.

    Al
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  15. Sergio Villa

    Sergio Villa

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    Yes, it takes very little time do do something pleasing and satisfying. In almost every art or profession. Plying an instrument is something that many people play by ear, other by learning in conservatoriums and is a magnificent thing. Not everybody can be a Mozart! This is the beauty of doing things in a noncompetitive way. Just doing something beautiful or useful is a pleasure and gives a sense of fulfillment. I believe that real arts and crafts should be thought in schools, and that a more peaceful society could be built by learning, playing and enjoying his/her own hidden potentiality without the competitiveness that characterizes our society. But this is another matter...
     
  16. George Guadiane

    George Guadiane

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    "Trade Secrets"

    This is not intended to be an answer or response to any specific question, statement or response. This is just my opinion, my feelings about time, it's value and what we "owe" each other as woodturners:

    I read a lot of this and skimmed the rest. One thing I didn't see was a conversation about "time = money." And/or when or where the information was sought out. And, time - just how long it might take to PROPERLY explain a concept or technique.

    For instance, I found myself in a conversation with David Elsworth between rotations at the AAW symposium in Tampa. He was pleasant and attentive, responded as directly as I could imagine. Each answer seemed to lead me to another question (and for the life of me, I don't remember what it was about now).
    At what was probably too long a period of time, I realized that I could easily have held him captive for hours and that he probably wasn't benefiting from me in any way (that I could imagine). Having recognized my greed, I thanked him and released him back into the stream of the waiting.
    MOOD/ATTITUDE/CIRCUMSTANCES: might dictate the kind of response one gets theirs AND yours. Sometimes people are not in the optimal mood to relate well to others. That should be considered and respected.
    ABILITY/WILLINGNESS TO COMPREHEND: When I STARTED turning, I was a "know it all." I spent too long a time reinventing the wheel and rejecting what I now know would have been a lot of help (because I "NEEDED" to figure it out for myself). At some point, I realized that I was hurting myself and started to really listen. Prior to that, what I really wanted was your support for what I thought, NOT what would actually help.
    Then I stared asking questions that were "above my pay grade." Thankfully, I was treated with respect but with the understanding that I wasn't really ready for that information yet.

    As I have learned more, I have found myself on the other side of each of these equations to varying degrees. When I find myself trying to explain something that I feel is just "not going in," I try to back down to initial steps with a "get back to me" once that hurdle is jumped.
    I LIKE TO, WANT TO help, but my time is valuable to me, as I am sure time is valuable to all of us. Asking the questions doesn't necessarily entitle one to complete and exhaustive answers. Woodturners are the most giving helpful artists, artisans I have encountered

    BUT, I'm not sure I saw anyone ask:

    What's the matter with wanting to keep something for one's self? Personally, I don't have any secret tricks of my own, and the few I have from others, I guard with my life.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  17. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Absolutely nothing.
     
  18. KellyDunn

    KellyDunn

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    I am a full time turner who for many years kept part of what I do to myself. It did give me an edge. I taught a technique that was very close and for most satisfactory. Over time I kept getting calls and emails saying, Kelly you are holding something back. I am unable to achieve what you do. I have no idea how many folks in classes I in essence created my own competition. But I had an edge. I had worked with two other turners on formula after formula until we came up with one that we all went Bingo. And kept to ourselves. I then slowly modified that formula and the other two got away from turning. One day a guy who I had worked with a long time on tool work and the use of imagination on total form called me. He said, you *******, your holding something back. I thought about it and decided no more secrets. In a way I have regretted that decision. But I stood before our group, looked this man in the eye and said to all, get out a pencil its time for me to tell what I have been keeping to myself. After I laid it out this guy says, No wonder no one could do what you do.
    I also disagree with Richard Findley. You can teach imagination and creativity. One person on this thread Betty Scarpino has had classes I have sat in on that did both. Many teachers spend a part of their demo time discussing just that. How to get out of your box is a topic many cover. It involves the use of creative imagination in most cases. Dont think so? Try this. Pick up an object that is stumping you so to speak. Or just put it in front of you. Stare at it. Your imagination will begin to give you creative ideas. You may not like or want to implement those that begin to come through. But they will come through. Do it enough times and you will convince yourself just how easy it is. Being able to act on the creativity you have imagined is another matter.
     
  19. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Interesting Kelly,

    You amplify Odie's question and raise an issue:

    "Just because you can ask a question, what makes you think you're entitled to an answer?"

    In the context of teacher & student, the answer is pretty plain that answers are the end product and there is a duty to give them provided they are part of what's supposed to be taught. After all, that's what "teach" is being paid for, right?

    But when you're in a different situation, what is this "obligation" that your "********" name-caller invoked to lay everything you've worked hard to develop (discover, if you will) out there for others to use, abuse, or otherwise appropriate as their own?

    Who are these idea vampires and where do they get off making such demands?

    I've run into posters on this and other forums who think nothing of asking a complex question, getting several very good answers, simply going away without even a thank you to those who responded, and then get huffy when they come back for more and find a certain lack of response. It is, I submit, more and less than mere manners. It is an apparently arrogant attitude of entitlement.

    Just because somebody likes what Kelly Dunn does and wishes he/she could do the same somehow gives them the right to demand that Kelly give them the gory how-to details? Really?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  20. Betty Scarpino

    Betty Scarpino

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    Sure, time can equal money, but time also equals enjoyment, happiness, friendship, love ... to name a few of life's pleasures.

    Your skimming must have missed my comment: I see nothing wrong with keeping something for one's self. That's everyone's prerogative.

    On the other hand, my world view is that there is enough wealth, friendship, love, techniques, wood, or whatever for everyone to have as much as they desire. I focus on those positive aspects of life rather than spending energy "protecting" a pile of secrets. But, to each his own beliefs and world views.


    Betty Scarpino, Editor (for a few more months :D), American Woodturner
     

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