In 1989, when I attended my first woodturning symposium, Bonnie was one of the lead demonstrators. I was totally mesmerized by her skill at woodturning, her ability as a demonstrator and her enthusiastic, positive personality. Hard to imagine, but she’s gotten even better!
Last year, I saw Bonnie’s presentation on how she prepares animal bone for use in her woodturning. The small boxes and jewelry made from this bone look like ivory! To say the least, she likes to experiment with turning unusual materials.
Bonnie is known in the turning world for having pioneered the field of small-scale turning. She developed the Klein lathe in 1986, then followed that with the Klein threading jig in 1992. She has written a book and produced many videos.
It’s an understatement to say that Bonnie loves the creative process. In her words, she is “addicted to discovery, progress and the fact that perfection is forever elusive, but as I strive for it, yesterday’s challenges become the basic skills of tomorrow.”
Bonnie’s nested boxes are made from boxwood, coveted for its superior turning properties, as well as its lovely color and texture. It’s not enough that the boxes all have lids: each lid is threaded and screws to its corresponding base. Lined up, they show Bonnie’s skill in tool control and her eye for detail. The surprise inside is a miniature top. It spins, perfectly.
Bonnie volunteers a lot of her time teaching youngsters how to turn. She travels with 10 lathes, tools and wood in the back of her van to teach classes. At the American Association of Woodturners’ annual symposium, Bonnie heads up a program where a bank of lathes is set up, and each child has a volunteer mentor to assist. They make a preplanned project and take it with them when finished.
Bonnie’s advice: it’s more important for the tools to be in proportion to your workpiece than to the lathe. Higher RPMs will produce smoother surfaces right off the tools, provided they are used correctly.