I was born in a small town in Saskatchewan, Turtleford, that was as close as possible to being perfect. A river with a swimming hole, a bridge to hang out on underneath and fish, and a toboggan hill with my grandmother’s house on it and at the bottom if there were no cars coming a steep bank down to zip across the highway and then on down to the railroad tracks. It was carefree and no one got hurt. It was perfect.
In grade 9 we all had to take shop, both metal and wood. I built a book shelf, a boot scraper and wheel puller. Now the metal shop had a lathe and I don’t recall seeing one in our wood workshop but I have always wanted to just turn something.
After high school I went to the University of Saskatchewan and first year was all science. Laying on my bed one spring morning about to start studying for my finals I was looking through the calendar to decide on what classes to take in year two. “That looks interesting” I said and switched from science into being a drama major. At the completion of university the head of drama helped me get a job at the Saskatoon Star Phoenix in the photography department. From the paper I went on to being a television photographer, both CTV and CBC here in Saskatoon and finally to a freelance career. I shot industrials, commercials and documentaries and series. For two years I got to hang out with 4th year vet students as they did their various rotations. We shot operations and procedures on dogs, cats, buffalo, musk oxen, elk, deer, birds of prey and just about everything else. It was exciting and I didn’t have to go through the four years of excruciating study that the students I was filming had to.
About 5 years ago, a long time from grade 9, I took a pen turning class at Lee Valley and fell in love with pen making. I bought a small lathe and started turning pens. Then I started making my own blanks by casting things like wasp nest and birch bark in resin. I made more pens. A glass artist friend said “Gary you have got to be in Artisan.” I was accepted and then started turning even more pens.
A neighbour, Steve Penn, introduced me to the club and now all I think about is turning and well my Skye Terrier, Tommy. I have turned a pepper mill and a few small bowls and have fallen in love with decorating. I still keep turning pens. I love them. I have got lots to learn and much to experience but by being a member there are lots of people around to learn from and new exciting activities to experience.
At night sometimes I find myself going out into my shop, which is a garage that is attached to my house by stairs into the basement, and saying “Maybe I’ll just put this bowl on the lathe now so it will be ready to go in the morning.”