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. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    That has been my experience and I am very grateful for the openness in the woodturning community to share information. This degree of willingness to share information is not always the case in other areas of art and crafts.

    I second what Mark says. One member of this and other woodturning forums has a technique for embellishing turnings that I think is very beautiful. I made some WAG's about how it was done, but he informed that my guesses were not what he did and that he was not ready to share his technique -- I presumed because this design technique was part of his bread and butter. I fully understand and respect his position. My interest stemmed from my curious nature (an incurable condition that seems to afflict most engineers and scientists) and not any real interest in making something that looks like his creations. I think that I read on SMC that he is now showing students willing to pay for lessons how his technique is done.

    I believe that most of the pros who I have taken classes from have requested that what has been taught not be used to make carbon copies of their work, but instead to come up with something of our own creation to apply what we have learned. That is a reasonable request.
     
  2. George Guadiane

    George Guadiane

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    I agree with you on virtually every point.
    Using the "time = money" point was an incomplete thought.
    I used to work in a nightclub cover band back in the 70s/80s. I LOVE to make music. Did it for free plenty of times - HOWEVER, if I never HEAR "Color My World" again, it will be too soon. It's a great piece of music, in the vein of Ravel's Bolero, but for the player it is TEDIOUS.
    In the same way, explaining AGAIN about some thing I no longer do because I'm tired of it, for myself - I see the excitement in their eyes and WANT to join them, but sometimes my mood isn't right. That was a part of my original post. The person asking the question should be attentive, not just to what they want to know, but to how they are impacting the other person.

    I thought about it, and I really only have one secret to protect. One of my mentor friends told me his personal secret to a HIGH gloss finish which I rarely use. Obscure enough and practical enough to be worth protecting, because he asked me to.

    As to the other aspects of life, as I said, on principal, I agree, BUT, there are times when my curmudgeon takes over and I just don't want to be engaged. I think we should all be allowed to and be respected for that too.
     
  3. hu lowery

    hu lowery

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    secrets

    First, any secret given to me in confidence by someone else can't be shared by me, period! Not open for discussion.

    I started competing with cars at fifteen, had been reading and learning all I could about high performance cars for at least three years before that, from the time I started working at twelve.

    At fifteen I was full of secrets, wasn't going to tell anyone anything about why my car went fast. In competition secrets are what it is all about, or so I thought. Very rarely someone finds a real secret that gives them a massive competitive edge for awhile, one NASCAR team discovered something radical and new about internal combustion engines a few years back and dominated until the secret leaked out. However most secrets are far less important.

    By the time I was seventeen I had changed my attitude and shared everything. I have continued to do that in many forms of competition and don't think it has ever hurt me in the least.

    If you are a winning competitor or a master craftsman you will always have that bit extra that many others don't have. Maybe you are gifted, more likely you simply have worked at what you do harder, longer, and in greater depth. You can tell other people anything they ask and more and they still won't be you.

    I have told dozens of people face to face and thousands on the internet the secret to playing world class pool. To the best of my knowledge not one has put in the work and effort to take advantage of the gift. That is what I learned from watching Willie Mosconi twenty or thirty minutes on TV when he was having a great day. However to take advantage of what I learned I put in many thousands of hours over the next three years besides running my businesses or working full time plus. I put in those thousands of hours focused on one thing about my game. How many people are willing to do that?

    Nobody can give you the highest levels of ability. It has to be innate or earned. The ten thousand hour thing is interesting but I have always heard that poets and mathematician's typically turn out their best work very young.

    A final thing about "secrets". Quite a few secrets that people think are too precious to share are known by quite a few, each one hoarding his or her precious secret!!

    Not one of you can share anything you know or everything you know and make me the turner you are. The same is true of anyone else you teach or help.

    Hu
     
  4. Betty Scarpino

    Betty Scarpino

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    Hu, that pretty much sums up why I willingly share my techniques and methods. But, that's not to say I'm any better than anyone else, including students ... we're all gloriously different in our approaches. We all have pretty much the same equipment, wood, tools, and techniques, but look at any symposium's Instant Gallery -- what variety!


    Betty Scarpino, Editor, American Woodturner
     
  5. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Maybe not, but if you buy this super nifty wiz-bang tool I invented . . . .:D
     
  6. hu lowery

    hu lowery

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    Betty,

    Thank you, each will carve out their own niche eventually.

    Not PC to say you are better than anyone else but the simple truth is that you are, at some things, even many things. Just for starters, few can match your editing and people skills! Others are better than you at other things. We are all equal as human beings but no two of us have exactly the same make up of physical abilities, skills, talent, and intelligence. We all have widely varied experiences also. Some people simply don't have the temperament to do some things.

    As long as we don't lose sight of the fact that we are all equal as people I think it is unrealistic to pretend we are all equal in all things. I was born clumsy and went downhill from there. I have been a successful competitor at a handful of things but I carefully choose what I compete at! I don't think ballet would be my forte either. Aside from being clumsy I have never quite understood what the music is for. :)



    Mark,

    Thank goodness for the people that think they can buy their way to mastery of anything! I suspect they contribute a very large chunk to the world economy. Perhaps mean of me but they also provide a great deal of entertainment.

    Having said that, I have been burning up the plastic for a week buying the things that will make me a great turner overnight!! :D :D Wonder if I can buy an American Beauty on the British never-never plan . . . . I'd turn ten times better just standing in front of one of them not to mention the style points I would gain!

    Hu
     
  7. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Hu,

    Don Geiger said it best:

    "We're all just one tool away from greatness."

    ;)
     
  8. Betty Scarpino

    Betty Scarpino

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    Bill, I heartily agree with what you've written! Hobbyists are essential to the growth of the woodturning field. They support professionals and the vendors. So, keep buying tools and attending demonstrations and classes!

    The woodturning field and the AAW flourish because of the synergistic combination of hobbyists and professionals and the amazing sharing of techniques and methods. We share in a variety of ways: through symposiums, classes, club demonstrations, the forums, and of course my favorite -- American Woodturner! :D It thrives because of all the woodturners who willingly share their knowledge: professionals and hobbyists.

    Betty Scarpino, Editor, American Woodturner
     
  9. dbonertz

    dbonertz

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    This has been an interesting thread. All I can add is if you want to keep a secret don't go out teaching or making money teaching a formula/technique if you're not willing to fully disclose. Do as the person Bill is talking about - keep your mouth shut. If you are going to talk about it or demo it then disclose it or you most likely will come across as a bragger/teaser. One is not being fair to his/her audience if they hold something back that is vital to success. They have a responsibility to teach/demo something they are willing to fully disclose.
     
  10. Betty Scarpino

    Betty Scarpino

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    Thank you, Hu. Years ago I made the decision to improve my communication skills and came across Marshall Rosenberg book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. I took workshops regularly for almost two years. I also had plenty of opportunity to practice my new-found skills whiile editing the journal. :eek:

    I am currently re-reading the book and finding new things to think about to improve and enrich my life through the positive connections I engender. It's very much like what this thread is discussing: In order to become good at something, it requires years of practice. And, the beginning is always the initial intention of improving.

    Oh yes, I AM a damn fine editor! :D ... but not a better person than anyone else.

    Betty Scarpino, Editor, American Woodturner
     
  11. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Yo Teach . . .

    Hi Dale,

    Since we've touched on the subject of the obligation of the instructor (demonstrator) what say ye[all] on the following:

    Mr. A is an internationally known turner who uses highly specialized and "secret" tools and processes to produce his work.

    Mr. A gets hired to teach a class in basic and intermediate turning skills. His name recognition is an obvious draw to get students to lay out the time and money to take the class which is, of course, packed.

    Mr. A runs his class but never even mentions his 'signature' work and will not entertain any questions that might tend to reveal parts of his process, etc.

    Questions:
    1. Didn't A have have an obligation to disclose his secrets in that class? After all, the work he produces created his "name" which was the obvious hook to draw in the students.

    2. Does a student who reasonably expected to get insights into how A does what he does have a basis to ask for her tuition back? Why?

    3. Would your answers be different if Mr. A was invited to demonstrate at a large symposium where turners of all skill levels are in the audience, A's demonstration does not cover his 'secret stuff', and A, being the nice guy that he is, waives any compensation for the appearance and pays his own expenses?
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2014
  12. Tom Coghill

    Tom Coghill

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    Odie and all others,

    I will not say that I know all and can do all, however I distinctly recall after completing a complicated and challenging turning I was left unfulfilled:(. While it was a challenge for my skills and I had completed it with very good quality - it was a reproduction of what someone else had done.... or it was something that a mechanized process could eventually re-do.

    It lacked personality. It lacked MY personality.

    I now turn individual pieces with much more personal satisfaction. I make each piece one of a kind with grain enhancement, pyrography, non-symmetrical placement or assemblage of dissimilar materials.

    Bowls, closed vessels, pens, stoppers, all these items can be made to look “store bought†and without defect, however the items that stand out are those that exhibit individualistic expression.

    That’s my $0.02 … I work, however each evening I retire to the shop and create for a couple hours. I find that very fulfilling:).
     
  13. john lucas

    john lucas

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    I think we are getting somewhat hypothetical here. Very very few if even any demos I have gone to (and I've been to a lot) will the demonstrator not tell you pretty much how to do exactly what they do. Granted they may not give out every secret but when you leave a demo you pretty much build what they show you.
    I don't know if this is always the case but every demo I've been asked to do I give them a list up front which they ask for so the audience knows what I'm going to do.
    I do think sometimes audience members go away from a demo not learning all they thought they would. As demonstrators we try to cater to the audience and what we perceive they want or need to learn. Obviously that won't always jive with every participant and some even go in with an attitude. I remember sitting through one demo of a famous turner. When the demo was over one guy said hell all he did was push his line of tools. Well I sat through the same demo and I remember him mentioning his tools one time and that was when an audience member asked about what he used. OH well you can't please them all.
    I've been involved with artists for a long time in all mediums. There really is a problem out there of people copying other peoples work and then trying to sell it in the same markets. I know it's a free market and if you can make it better and cheaper and want to sell it that up to you. But then it's hard to complain when that person doesn't want to give you all their secrets.
    I've been involved in woodworking for about 35 years and remember a time when most woodworkers would not share info, protecting that favorite finish to the very end. That has changed and now most teachers and woodworker freely give out all the info.
    It does seem kind of unfair though if you spent a year working out the right combination of techniques to produce a piece and then someone wants to know it all so they can go out tomorrow and build it. Not a problem if they want to build one for themselves but when they want to learn it to sell it in your market doesn't that seem a little silly on your part to give them that info.
    It's obviously not an easy answer and every teacher has to decide for themselves what to divulge and why they give it out.
     
  14. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    most rotations are for 1 1/2 hours, if there are lots of questions, some things might be left out very easily......unless you can see a tape, tomorrow you may not remenber exactly how it was done
     
  15. Betty Scarpino

    Betty Scarpino

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    Tom ... exactly and way to go!

    Betty Scarpino, Editor, American Woodturner
     
  16. dbonertz

    dbonertz

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    Mark,

    I guess you understand my point. He kept his mouth shut about his signature work and secrets involved with it. So no he has no obligation to disclose it unless he is up there teaching it. Turners good enough to do signature work are good enough with tool control and other tips and techniques to share without needing to teach their signature stuff. When I sign up for a class or demo I have never asked are you teaching your signature stuff and I think that is presumptuous to think otherwise. No refund should be given unless it was promoted that said demonstrator was teaching his signature work - name or no name.

    Example: I have been to many Ellsworth demonstrations and his signature is hollow forms. A lot of his demonstrations are bowls - I don't leave disappointed.

    To tell the truth I don't think most people intentionally leave anything out. I do however feel that sometimes things are left out because of interruptions or other distractions where a demonstrator/teacher momentarily lost concentration. The other thing I have noticed is many demonstrators are so good that they have nuances they do and do not share them either because it is second nature to them or they assume everyone understands it thus they feel they don't need to point it out.

    In conclusion if I every found out a demonstrator intentionally left out a vital piece of information I would never attend another demonstration or sign up for a class with them. I would never be able to trust them. Better to not demonstrate/teach something if your not willing to disclose all.
     
  17. Edward Weber

    Edward Weber

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    IMHO
    Those who don’t believe that the secretive quality of man is hard-wired into our DNA are being a bit naive. Ever since the dawn of man we have been keeping secrets from one another. First it was about survival, one clan keeping their hunting grounds secret from their rivals to secure more food. Next it was one village keeping its farming techniques secret so they raised more grain and could survive the winter. Then it became one kingdom keeping it’s blacksmithing skills secret so that their superior weapons would provide a victory in battle. Fast forward to the present day and now we keep secrets to give ourselves a competitive (monitory) advantage over the next person.

    “As woodturners, we are a community that is interested in promoting the craft among other turners. Most turners would gladly relay all that they know to other turners, because that's just the kind of people we are! This statement is generally true......but, there is a point where it exceeds reality!â€

    Just about every craft or profession has a club, an association or a guild of some kind to keep and promote their individual interests; I don’t think woodturning is unique in this regard.
    The notion of freely giving information is interesting and can have some unintended consequences. You know what they say about free advice… it’s worth every penny.

    "There are some very accomplished turners who will tell you almost everything they know!"

    I personally think this is a good thing. This information that is kept by this level of craftsmen and women IS what sets them apart. If everyone just put their cards on the table for all to see, what does that do to the intellectual curiosity? What do you learn if all the “secrets†if you will, are simply given to you?

    I spend time on another forum where, on a daily basis, I try to the best of my ability to answer questions and help woodturners with their problems. Do I just give them all the answers, no, but I always try to point them in a direction where they can learn things for themselves. If I simply tell someone the answer then he or she has not really learned anything. If he or she is steered in the proper direction and learns the answer on their own, then there is a much greater understanding and appreciation of that knowledge.

    As the OP noted, “there is a point where it exceeds reality†this refers to that elite turner whose secrets we want to discover. Some of their information can be obtained but only at a price, in the form of books, videos and paid demonstrations. There is however, still more we want to learn from the masters but it can not be taught. You can not teach creativity, you can only teach the tools and techniques, the actual physical mechanics of the craft. The creativity, the inspiration, the spark or what ever you want to call it, can not be taught. Even if an accomplished turner wanted to freely give all their knowledge away, it’s simply not possible since you can’t teach the life experiences that brought him or her to their respective level of achievement.
     
  18. Betty Scarpino

    Betty Scarpino

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    Actually, recent re-thinking of the way man (womankind) has survived has concluded that it's sharing that has contributed to groups surviving and thriving. So, by nature, within a clan, individuals must share with each other to survive. Then, the clan survives. Sure, one clan may fight another clan, but that does not negate the inbred sharing that goes on within clans to ensure survival. And, it's women within clans who have been the leaders in sharing.

    Oh dear, maybe women have the sharing DNA and men have not evolved to that stage yet? :rolleyes: (My son just earned a PhD in evolutionary biology and genetics, I'll ask him!)

    Conclusion: Now that there are many women turners, that means woodturners have learned to willingly share within our "clan."

    But, we'll be darned if we share our secrets outside our woodturning clan. Heck with potters or weavers!!

    This does not mean I'm against keeping secrets. Of any sort ...


    Betty Scarpino, Editor, American Woodturner
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2014
  19. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Hi Dale,

    Yes, I got your point. As a former teacher, I agree with your view; if it wasn't in my lesson plan, I didn't bring it up, as it would be a distraction and detract from what I was trying to convey to the students.

    But the open sharing of information among woodworkers, not just turners, may be leading to a cultural expectation of disclosure which, in turn, can foster an atmosphere of entitlement that is very troublesome.

    Tom made a very good point. If I go to a demonstration by a turner, I don't go to find out how to make what they make, I go to pick up a particular skill that I might be able to use in my own work. That necessarily limits the how-to demos I attend because my purpose is in my own work.

    Not that burners, colorists, carvers, or multi-axis people aren't worthwhile and entertaining, rather that what they do may have no application to what I want to do. I can and do go to the galleries and see what they do in finished form.

    I'm reminded of a statement made by Paul Stookey (I think) back in the '60's when the Beatles were on the upswing and displacing PP&M as most popular on "the charts." They were asked what they thought of this "new" group, and he replied "They magic is just different from our magic."

    I don't compare my work to that of others, especially professionals who invest far more time and effort. I don't need to make value judgments between what they make and what I do. Their magic is different from mine, and I don't need to beg, borrow, or steal some of theirs.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2014
  20. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Has the thread evolved into the question of whether a woman can keep a secret? :D
     

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