As the wood turns: P.E.I.’s Woodturners Guild revives ancient craft

Eptek exhibit highlighted revival of the craft.

Published on April 21, 2014

The exhibit featured work by many of the Island’s woodturning artists, and commemorated the work of guild artists who have passed away recently, including the late Floyd Caseley (bowl).

Maddie Keenlyside – Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE – For centuries people have been gently manipulating wood into various shapes and forms by woodturning with lathes.

Recently at Eptek Art & Culture Centre, a wood turning exhibition highlighted the P.E.I. Woodturners Guild’s work. The exhibition showcased the fact there were lots of domestic items and tools throughout history made using this technique.

But what was once a daily necessity is now a thriving art form, Eptek’s Paula Kenny said.

“It’s a fascinating thing to watch, it’s just like magic.”

It’s a traditional craft, and most of the artists are hobby woodturners, but they have a lot of talent, she said.

“Some of these pieces are absolutely beautiful.”

And people who work with wood seem to have a sensitivity to the material.

“They take advantage of the characteristics of the wood, but they’re also quite artistic. There are also lots of utilitarian pieces, too, of course.”

Nowadays, where we don’t make much of what we use ourselves, people have gone back to this as a hobby, she said.

“They make some beautiful, functional pieces, and also some lovely, decorative pieces.”

Though the P.E.I.’s Woodturners Guild formed only a few years ago, hobbyists all across the Island contribute, and the guild’s monthly meetings alternate between Charlottetown and Summerside.

“The Guild is always looking for new members. I think they have about 30 members now, and they’re always open to welcoming new turners, or turners who have some experience, that are going to be wanting to share their expertise. It’s kind of a collegial group.”

The Woodturner’s Guild chose to honour three deceased woodturners who worked on the Island. Eptek displayed the work of these men, the late Floyd Caseley, Urban Desroches, and Jacques Gaudreau.