Two week ends ago I went with another guy in my turning group to the SOFA ("Structural Objects and Functional Arts") exhibition at Navy Pier in Chicago. Most of it (about 75% I'd guess) was glass, but there was a lot of very good and extremely artistic wood turning on display, and some good demos, too.
One of the professional turners represented at SOFA was Binh Pho, who lives just outside Chicago, and who is one of the dominant artists in the turned wood area today. His specialties are thin-walled turning, air-brushing and piercing. His whole website is well-worth a look - he has a very interesting story. To see his work online, just click here - its fantastic! Then click on the "gallery" heading at his web site.
As luck (or shrewd previous arrangement) would have it, Binh came up to one of our member's shops for a 2-day week end program this past week end. The first day was demonstration only - about 25 of us attended that session. He demonstrated how to turn a thin-walled (1/16") bowl, air-brushing technique, and piercing. The second day was a hands on class for only six people - and I was fortunate enough to be one of them! We split the day between working on air-brushing (about 2/3) and piercing (about 1/3). Piercing is a technique using an air-driven drill (about 400,000 rpm) very similar to a dentist's drill, and tiny burrs, to cut decorative holes in thin-walled wood objects.
I'd never air-brushed or pierced before, but I had a great time, and thought I'd pass along a couple of photos. The first is my air-brush project, which was done on 1/16" birch plywood. The second reflects my piercing efforts on objects I'd previously turned (cedar vessel and walnut plate), each of which had walls about 1/16" thick. It was a lot of fun, although I think I inhaled too much wood smoke in the piercing part.