Blog

Welcome to Zen Wood Art!

Welcome to my website and to my blog!  I will use this blog to post pictures of new work, add information about the processes and techniques I use, provide updates about upcoming shows or events, announce sales and promotions in my Etsy store and so on.

By way of background, I began woodturning in 2008 or so.  At the time, I was living in Beijing and looking for a new challenge.  After taking a weeklong workshop from Dave Hout at the John Cambell Folk School, I was hooked.  The only problem was I needed a lathe!  As woodturning is not that popular in China, quality lathes and tools were not readily available.   The best lathe available at the time was exported from China and sold under the label Laguna.  But while the factory was only an hour or so down the road from Beijing, they could not sell a lathe to me directly: I would have needed to have it exported to the States and then shipped back to China!  Crazy.

So I ended up importing a Oneway 2436 from Canada – an interesting story in itself!  At the time, I was travelling back and forth from Beijing to the US and Australia fairly frequently, so each trip I would load up my suitcases with as many tools and supplies as I could carry.

Sourcing wood was also an issue.  Eventually, I stumbled across a sawmill on the outskirts of Beijing.  Since I wasn’t familiar with many of the woods and had no idea how they would turn, I just went around picking out a variety of trees to be shipped by truck to where I was living.  Turned out to be 3 tons of wood!  Didn’t look like all that much in a big sawmill, but it sure looked like a huge amount of wood when stored on the side of our house!

That kept me busy for the next 4-5 years, although I also visited this huge imported exotic wood market in Beijing where I was able to pick up some really amazing wood.

During that time, I was fortunate to have Dave Hout and Steve Hatcher come visit us.  Both are world-class turners.   They gave probably two of the first demos in China on modern woodturning techniques to local woodworking clubs.  Later on,  Terry Martin also came through as part of a mission to promote woodturning in China.  By the time I left, in 2016, some of the big players were coming to the trade shows and selling their wares, including high quality lathes.

Since moving back to the US, after almost three decades in Asia, I have joined the San Diego woodturners association and continue to have fun turning and doing other types of non-lathe pieces, some of which you can see on this website or find in my Etsy store-https://www.etsy.com/shop/ZenWoodArtCreations.  Take a look and let me know what you think.

Cheers!

Randy