George Taylor of Pipe Creek took up woodworking projects at a relatively late age, starting in the late 1990s, about the time he took his retirement from a career with AT&T in North Texas.
He said his day job took him to St. Louis, Mo.; West Texas and Minnesota before he landed in North Texas.
“I started with odd jobs for people, and made some shelves for my home,” Taylor said. “I had watched some ‘Old Yankee Workshop’ episodes. And I had an autistic son; and it was something I could try to teach him, too.
“I’m an engineer by education; and putting things together using wood was a kind of natural outlet,” Taylor said. “So my training in logic and organization and computer science helped me in woodworking. And I joined the Woodturning Club in Kerrville. But this is my first year to be an entrant in the Kerr Arts & Crafts Center’s ‘Furniture Makers Show.’”
His 2021 show entry is in the “art” category, a wooden wall hanging titled “Golden Vein.”
The entry label says, “This art piece was initially turned in a Nick Agar workshop. The four squares were a single piece of maple that was quartered after turning and then carved and textured when I returned to my shop. Then the frame and squares were highlighted with several gilt creams from Chroma Craft.”
The fairly large wall-hung art piece is for sale for $550.
He said he created his art piece on a lathe from a single block of wood, starting with cutting it into four block-shaped pieces.
Then he turned the base and other pieces on his lathe and with hand tools.
“On the decorated blocks on the front, the shallow round holes were sculpted out with hand tools. And a Dremmel turns to make the textures in the wood,” Taylor said. “After that, it took several coats of various colors of paint and lacquer to finish it.”
And for the “Show/Sale” display along one gallery wall, he contributed some hand-turned wooden and decorative bottle stoppers and hand-crafted wooden bowls.
This show remains on display until Dec. 17.
In past years, Taylor has created items for the KACC Gift Shop to sell, and placed them in other galleries. And he was the volunteer Furniture Show coordinator for three years. So he didn’t come to this year’s show as a “new” entrant exactly.
He noted art galleries and shops, including the KACC in Kerrville, have had comparatively little foot traffic during the COVID pandemic. But he gained some Internet sales during that time.
“Typically I make what I want; and if it sells, fine,” he said. “Making one of something is good. Making another one, or more, exactly like the first one is difficult in woodworking – similar, yes; the same, no.”
Taylor described himself as the kid who put a lot of models together; and kept asking, “How do they do that?” about the process.
He said people kept giving him honest feedback; and it kept him “creating.”
The craft has grown so much, now, he said, that woodworking is one of the largest craft organizations in the United States. And there are more than 30 clubs in Texas, whose members hold an annual regional symposium in Waco.
As for Taylor’s preferred materials, he said his personal favorite wood is “Figured Maple.” He described it as white with “dimension.” He added there are others similar to that; and he likes them if they are colorful and have “grain” he can work with.
“I’ve made bowls and bottlestoppers. Essentially they are all ‘knobs’,” he said.
Officially he has “Shop Pipe Creek” but described it as his garage, and said it’s too hot in the summer to work in there.
He’s also owned a barn on two acres to spread out his tools and wood supplies.
Taylor said he’s worked to pass on his skills to a son, and hopes he inherited some of his interest and skills from Taylor.
“Wood is a medium for art,” Taylor said. “It’s natural and has its own complexities. It can be art on its own.”
He also has a “pet peeve” about the art world, saying wood is not used as much as it should be in “art” classes in schools and colleges. He said sometimes it seems woodworking people are classified as “craftsmen” versus “artists;” and he prefers to call himself one of the “makers.”
“Woodworking spans crafts and art, whether it’s furniture or art pieces,” Taylor said.
Local Woodturners’ group
There is more information at the KACC about this group.
Taylor said members (and guests) meet the second Thursday evening, January through November, at 6:30 p.m. in one of the classrooms in the basement of the KACC building on Earl Garrett Street in Kerrville.
“We have a holiday party in December. But at our regular meetings we start with a short business meeting, and then have a demonstration by a club member or guest.”
He said they offer some workshops through each year for members and guests, supported by the Majestic Ranch Art Foundation.
As a group, members of the Woodturners have taken some of their tools, and for a service project have gone to Ingram and other elementary schools to demonstrate making “spinning tops” for the children.
They also were part of the River Arts Festival in Ingram.
Taylor noted they have one lathe powered by an exercise bike. He said the late Uel Clanton was the local founding member of this organization.
Those wanting more information can visit the website www.hillcountryturners.org.
Their annual newsletter from 2020 may be posted there; and the 2021 version was being planned.