Woodturning by Jennifer Shirley
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Woodturning expert Jennifer Shirley Jennifer Shirley turns using Indiana hardwoods and enjoys project detailing, a skill she teaches regularly.

Jennifer Shirley has two lathes, a full-size General and a JET mini-lathe. Years ago, her son, Weston, learned how to turn using her mini-lathe. Jennifer works in a one-and-one-half car garage converted to a studio.

Jen primarily uses native Indiana hardwoods, often rescuing timber that might otherwise find its way to a fireplace or landfill. The wood she used for her spice canteens is pear wood, given to her by a friend ... actually, given to her by two friends. I live about two miles from her in Indianapolis, and a little over a year ago, I helped myself to a couple of those small pear wood logs stacked in her backyard, sawed them up and dried them. I gave a hunk back to Jen for this project. It’s a lovely wood to work!

Hardwood turning project by Jen Shirley Rescued timber might seem harder to turn, especially for small turning projects, but Shirley actually prefers that type of wood.

An educational grant from the American Association of Woodturners allowed Jen to attend a turning class at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Craft in 2002. In 2006, she studied for a week at the Appalachian Center for Craft. Learning new skills helped Jen launch her own career as a teacher.

Jennifer is in regular demand at Marc Adams Woodworking School as a studio assistant. This year, she will teach her first class there, a weekend session on embellishing turned objects.

Jen’s initial thought for this project was to make two decorated hollow forms; however, after remembering some little chili containers that Alan Lacer brought to a class at Marc Adams, Jen decided to make her own version, calling them spice canteens. Her recent interest and activity in cooking has introduced her to a variety of new spices.

The piece of pear wood was just large enough to make two canteens. She hollowed them with a mini hollowing tool made from a piece of drift key and a tiny HSS cutter, brazed on with silver solder. Jen enjoys the challenges of making her own small-scale turning tools.

Jen Shirley miniature canteen project Shirley decided on a pear wood miniature canteen for her project, which she detailed and textured with a wood burner and electric engraver.

The canteens are ready to fill with your favorite blend of spices, tuck into your pocket or purse and head to your favorite restaurant or pub!

Jen has always been intrigued with tiny objects and miniatures that resemble their larger counterparts. When she was a kid, she loved Matchbox® toy cars and wished she could fit inside them. She sums up her participation in this challenge by saying, “the world of turning small-scale is very exciting and challenging, and this project was really a treat to be involved with!”

posted on October 1, 2008 by Betty Scarpino
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