Category Archives: Classes

The Art of Teaching Fine Crafts

DennisMargaret American Woodturner’s  June issue  tells the story of the work that Dennis has done for two years developing classes for the Bemis School of Art at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

There were quite a few hurdles to getting the classroom ready.  Bemis does not have a good ventilation system in the classroom, so in order for five people and one instructor to finish bowls, Dennis chose to use an oil finish that allows sanding with the oil to create a slurry instead of dust.

It was also a challenge for the club to select the turning tools.  With limited resources, there was quite a bit of controversy as personal preferences were often mistaken for facts.

The club is now developing more classes, in addition to the basic functional bowls class.




Dennis introduced woodturning through the Bemis School of Art

DennisandPatrick Dennis spent a good part of 2016 developing a woodturning class for the Bemis School of Art.  The Pikes Peak Woodturners negotiated a contract for classroom and meeting space at Bemis in exchange for three class and three demonstrations to the public.   Dennis was the first volunteer teacher for the club.

In this photo, Dennis works with club member Patrick White.  Before he rolled out the bowls class, Dennis held a training session with a core group of club members to train helpers for the class.  This group, affectionately known as ‘the Usual Suspects,’ has grown to nine members, including the club’s videographer, who donates several Saturdays to providing close-ups of the teacher’s demonstration.  The classes are a six-hour, one-day intense course in bowl turning.

Several things have made it possible to teach students to turn a nice 5″ bowl on their first try.  Most important are the helpers, who act as safety officers and mentors, as well as a set-up and clean-up crew for this multi-purpose classroom.  Dennis also discovered that sanding with mineral oil works effectively to keep down noise and dust.   The tools are also ground uniformly on a Tormek system, which allows quick touch-ups during the class.    The club’s Education Director, Butch Carlson, is the designated sharpener, so that Dennis can have maximum contact time with the students.