Developing your skills in woodturning is an interesting experience you tend to be isolated in your workshop. I learn best by sharing ideas and experiences with like minded people, so for me being a member of the Surrey Association of Woodturners (SAW) has been an invaluable experience. Being one of the largest woodturning clubs in the UK has meant that we have been able to have demonstrations from world class turners as well as sharing skills and ideas amongst ourselves.
My turning started in my early teenage years when visiting my granddad in Glasgow, we used to go to a community workshop where l was memorised by the machinery and the items 'Pop' and his friends were creating. It wasn't until many years later that this was refuelled by watching a demonstration of turning by David Reeks at Wisley Gardens in Surrey. Within two weeks l had bought a lathe and tools and within a month Di and myself were on a training course with Gregory Morton.
The SAW demonstrators opened up a new world, l remember many a eureka moment when watching the likes of Stuart King, Nick Agar, and Les Thorn demonstrating how to produce effects using carving and colouring. Then realising that the club has its own talent that you can discuss and explore ideas with.
I have been drumming since l was sixteen, always on the edge of making a living from it, but never quite making the final step. I have worked live within cabaret, blues, jazz, and funk bands, worked in studios producing jingles and various other songs, as well as work as a theater drummer, yes that right pantomime! Nowadays l still play but spend more time teaching and repairing drums.
The idea of making drums came from Greg Morton, it took me a few years to get from the initial idea to making my first solid oak drum. I spent a lot of time looking for information of how drum making was done before drums were made of ply shells, until l realised that l would have to reinvent these skills as they had been lost. Custom drum making is more prominent in the USA than the UK and the most up to date information is available from the USA custom drum suppliers. Defining what you mean by custom drums is a great discussion, in my mind if you buy in a blank shell as your starting point it is not a custom drum more like a DIY kit for a drum, especially if you purchase it with the holes drilled and bearing edges completed.
Drum makers are different from woodturners the sharing of information does not flow freely however a few people have been very helpful. I am however amazed at how the drum community is influence by the mass marketing of drum companies, and the way this closes the door to independent drum makers.
In 2011 I was awarded a bursary from the Worshipful Company of Woodturners to help explore different ways of enhancing drums with colour and carving. I spent three excellent days with Nick Agar just building a pallet of ideas and learning how to experiment.