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Arthur McViccar

Wood / Lafayette, LA / Master Craftsman

Artist Statement

To me, turning wood is a very relaxing process. To watch long curls of green wood come flying off a spinning piece of wood is truly a wonder to behold. The feel of a finished piece is very satisfying to the sense of feel which is enriched by the sight of beautiful grain and reinforced by a pleasant shape. So for me, woodturning is a pleasure of several senses at one time.
For the past few years I have really enjoyed making spheres. In the beginning it was enjoyable to take a finished sphere in one’s hands and fell the smooth, continuous round surface. Making sculptural pieces is not only a satisfying process, but also serves to express my artist’s voice.
I use the very traditional woodturning tools and techniques. I own 3 different lathes, one is a dedicated bowl lathe. What I choose to make is somewhat dependent on the wood. I use only woods that are native to these United States and mostly to the locale where I am living. I try to get wood that has been damaged or blown down in a storm. As someone who bought a bowl from a fallen tree felled by a hurricane said to me,” It’s wonderful that something so beautiful came as the result of something so devastating.”
Bowls are twice turned, which means that a half of a log is put on the lathe. The wood is turned green or undried and the shape of the bowl is roughly established. Green wood turns much easier than dry wood. The bowl dries in a slow, controlled process and when dry is remounted on the lathe, returned true to the final size and shape and then sanded and finish is applied. Drying, before returning the bowl to the lathe can take as little as 6 weeks and as long as a year.
I am currently using a finish that has been proven to be a food safe finish for woodenware. Some objects are buffed with wax after the finish has dried completely. Wood, no matter how long or how it is dried, will always respond to changes in humidity and will shift size. This must be taken into account when making certain objects. Bowls, bracelets, and weedpots are made from wood that I have dried myself. Other objects, such as kaleidoscopes and Christmas ornaments, are usually turned from kiln dried wood, as dimensional stability is necessary for objects that require close tolerance dimensions.

Biography

I learned basic woodturning while working by my father’s side, who taught me many things about woodworking. I turned my first bowl in Jr. High School shop class. In college I trained as a scene designer and technical director for the theater, building scenery for plays and musicals. I spent 25+ years doing that; 10 of those years teaching students at the University of Michigan how to build scenery.
I left the university to work as an artist/craftsman making kaleidoscopes and manipulation puzzles, which I sold at summer art fairs and at a gallery in Ann Arbor, MI. In addition to doing my own work, I worked part-time for a cabinetmaker who made high end furniture of his own design. I was hired to to finish carpentry for the expanded Michigan Theater, a restored 1928 movie palace, and ended up being hired full-time as the Facility Manager, a job I held for eight years before moving to Lafayette, LA.
I am currently employed by the Lafayette Parish School Board as a maintenance carpenter; and in my free time I turn wood in my own shop.
I cam back to the lathe in 1986, starting by making small craft items and gifts for friends and family, and have been fully committed to working on the lathe ever since. I have attended numerous national and regional woodturning symposiums, but have learned that doing small classes, 3-5 day workshops is the way I learn best when it comes to hands-on instruction. I have studied with woodturning instructors in Vermont, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and at Arrowmont Crafts Center in Gattlanberg, Tennessee. I have been a member of three different chapters of the the American Association of Woodturners. I started one of those chapters so that others could enjoy all of the benefits of belonging and sharing. I have served as president for two of those chapters, including the one here in Lafayette. I have demonstrated woodturning many times, in many places, and have taught one-on-one.