“Great job!”  “I love it!”  “Excellent work!”  We all enjoy getting these comments when we post our work – who wouldn’t!  Everyone needs to hear compliments, and they are important, but do they really help us improve our work?

            The late Norman Vincent Peale, noted minister and author of The Power of Positive Thinking, once said,” The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”  While we love to get the “attaboys,” what we really want (and need!) is encouraging and helpful criticism offered in a manner that will enable us to improve.

            Woodturners Unlimited is here to help!!



            We are developing a system by which you can offer up your work for an honest and constructive critique, using widely accepted guidelines.  This article will outline the process, and future articles will appear on the front page with completed critiques, compiled in a readable and clear “magazine format.” 

            The goal is not only to provide guidance to participants whose work was critiqued, but also to provide a learning experience for our viewers.  This is a unique approach - something not offered anywhere else on the web.  And, it is free!!!  How much better can it get?


            So, here is how it will work.  We have established an initial critique board consisting of three turners with varied interests, all of whom have a dedicated interest in proper form and proportions, and each of which hopes to help other turners progress in their journey.  As Woodturners Unlimited grows, and we gain new talent, the composition of the board will rotate so that we avoid a stagnant approach, and give our evaluators a break.  New and fresh ideas are always a good thing!


            The initial members of the board will be Terry Scott, Keith Burns, and John Keeton.  Most of the present members of WTU are familiar with these folks.  Terry, an internationally recognized turner, hails from New Zealand.  Terry shares a website with Gordon Pembridge at http://www.timberly.co.nz/.  Good ol’ southern boy, Keith Burns, resides in Tennessee and his work is on display in galleries and collections across the country.  Keith's website was linked to the now defunct Woodturners America site.  He is presently working on a new domain arrangement.  John Keeton, formerly a flatworker (shudder!!), is a relatively new face in the world of woodturning and his work can be viewed at http://www.johnkeeton.com.  


            Noted woodturner, Jim Christiansen, has graciously permitted us to use the critique system he developed in 2004 for the AAW.  Jim’s wonderful work can be seen at finewoodartists.  An important feature of his system is the following evaluation form, and we will be using this form in our program, and combine that with narrative comments by the evaluators, if needed.

            Each evaluator will act independently and without consulting the other evaluators.  Each will complete a separate Evaluation Form based on their personal experience, style of turning, and perception of the work being presented.  As Jim Christiansen said – “Simply put, the process requires the evaluator to look at a piece of work and then to describe the strengths and weaknesses of the piece through his or her perspective.”

            For that very reason, we anticipate that the opinions of the three evaluators will differ, and in some cases, perhaps seem to be in conflict.  As one might realize, that is exactly what happens when the public views your work.  Some may love it - some may hate it.  In this case, however, the result should be taken collectively in an effort to offer genuine guidance on how you might improve your work.


            Now, you say – “I am not really interested in getting publicly flogged!!”  Well, that is not going to happen!  A good critique should “enlighten and inspire” and that is the goal in this effort.  The evaluators want you to succeed.  Providing a poorly done critique can evoke anger and resentment, and accomplish the exact opposite of the intended result.  We are committed to a positive outcome.  On the other hand, in providing an honest and constructive critique, the evaluators may point out features of the work they find in need of improvement, but do so in a manner that will provide guidance for you to avoid repeating less desirable features.

            To accomplish this effort, we will need a shared understanding of the process, and more importantly, sufficient information from you, the presenter.  That is essential for a competent evaluation of your work.  We are in the process of developing photo requirements, and other information that will be required from the presenter.  Those details will be posted later.


            I am old enough to recall watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid more times than I would admit!!  I will never forget the scene where they have been chased for miles and come to a large canyon, with nowhere to go but over the cliff and into the raging river below –

Butch Cassidy: Alright. I'll jump first.
Sundance Kid: No.
Butch Cassidy: Then you jump first.
Sundance Kid: No, I said.
Butch Cassidy: What's the matter with you?
Sundance Kid: I can't swim.


            Well, to relieve you from having to jump first, we have some volunteers that have agreed to participate in the initial evaluations.  We want you to feel comfortable with the process and the only way that will happen is for someone to jump first!

            The results of the "maiden voyage" of our new feature will be revealed within the next few weeks in a special feature article right here on the Front Page of Woodturners Unlimited!  Stay tuned!




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Saturday the 20th. Thanks for visiting Woodturners Unlimited.