Happy New Year!

Yeah…I know it’s a little late…as are most of my postings!!

I’ve been working on it since March so it might be a little disjointed but can’t get my mind around changing it all around now to make chronological sense..sorry!!!!

I’ll try and do better next time:)

The last year has been a bit of a blur so it’s hard to know where to start, guess I’ll have to take it back to April last year!!

At the start of my travels in April I taught a week class at Ecole Escoulen www.escoulen.com Jean-Francois Escoulen’s school in Aiguines. An incredible place to teach and/or take a class. After that I taught a week class at Lycee Moirans, a woodworking college in the Jura region West of Geneva. After That Jerome Blanc came to Moirans to pick me up and we drove to Geneva. This trip took us through rolling limestone hill country which inspired these pieces representing ammonite fossils found in that area.

The fossil details are carved with rotary tools and the surface texturing is done with a laser cutting techniques Jerome has developed.

Jerome’s wife Marta, who is a fabulous painter has taken my little boats to a new level!! And I even got to go sailing on Lac Lemans:):)

After Geneva I crossed the Atlantic to teach a class at Canyon Studios in Texas www.canyonstudios.org

Gene Colley has created a great little school in his back yard with a well set up lathe room and an incredible surface decoration room. The class went so well Gene booked me to teach another class there 29 May- 1 June this year.

While on the subject of teaching I also taught a class at Arrowmont again this year www.arrowmont.org 26 July – 1 August which was lots of fun with a full class.

After Texas I spent a bit of time with Michael Mocho in Albuquerque and we drove together to Phoenix through some spectacular cactus country.

Unfortunately most of the spring flowers were done but managed to catch a few late bloomers:)

AAW in Phoenix was fantastic! As Clay Foster once said to me…’AAW…where we go to catch up with all our friends…and the ones we didn’t know we had’.  It was a smaller attendance than most so the pace was a lot more relaxed and it was easier to get around. And as I wasn’t demonstrating I had plenty of time to catch up with folks and check out the instant gallery and exhibits:) And I loved the weather…hot and dry:):)

After Phoenix I went to Buck’s Co Community College in PA for another dose of Echo Lake, my 3rd or 4th time at this event.

Always a lot of fun and inspiration and another chance to catch up and play with heaps of friends!

Then I had a wonderful couple of days R&R with Jeff & Donna Turi in Wilmington, Delaware before going on to Chicago to spend 10 days hanging out and working with Binh and family.

Then it was back to work in Glendale, CA staying with Bill & Sandy Loitz who also hosting my surface decoration workshop in their beautiful back yard, best workshop venue ever!

Was also there for a fun July 4th. We made flag cakes and watched fireworks over the Rosebowl:)

After CA it was up to Portland for a demo/workshop with Cascade Woodturners and nice stays with Andy Johnson-Laird & Kay Kitigawa and also Dale Larson before heading to Peter’s Valley, then on to Colorado for another nice stay with Tom & Melinda Wirsing while I did some demos for CO turning groups.

Then I went home for 6 days, starting to really doubt my sanity here, and back to France for the Breville Festival, and Geneva again for more collaborating with Jerome. Then on to Spain to demo at the Spanish Woodturning Conference in Xermade which was amazing, didn’t even know there was woodturning in Spain! We were hosted by Tito in a beautiful old farmhouse and fed far to well! I would definitely recommend a visit to Spain for this wonderful experience:)

Latest news is that I’m now living in Asheville, North Carolina, USA. Wow…hard to believe eh! Two weeks ago, after much ado, I finally got my 3 year 0-1 work visa firmly stamped (it’s a sticker actually but they still call it a visa stamp!!) in my passport.

MANY MANY thanks to all who wrote wonderful letters of recommendation for me. Also to my fabulous immigration attorney and ESPECIALLY to Melissa Engler who waded through the bureaucratic nightmare and paper chase!!! More on Melissa soon:):)

I’ve been thinking about a move to Asheville for some time, it’s a real hub for arts and crafts and has a wonderful climate. It’s also not tooooo far from the coast and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains are almost as good as my beach back home:) But property ties have kept me having to come back to NZ. Late last year my land finally sold and this totally freed me up.

The main decider in the move to Asheville now was meeting my new partner Melissa Engler www.melissaengler.com at the Phoenix AAW symposium last year. She is a fabulous woodworker and a joy to be around. Melissa was working for Grovewood Gallery www.grovewood.com and on John Hill’s recommendation came to AAW with gallery owner Harry Patton to hunt down new artists to exhibit in the ‘Wood Art’ room she created at Grovewood.

Over the next couple of months we stayed in touch as Melissa signed up for a week class I was teaching at Peter’s Valley School of Craft www.petersvalley.org , one of my favourite places to teach.  During that week we decided we were made for each other and started planning our next adventure and the possibility of a future together. Three weeks later Mel flew to join me in France for 10 days after I finished working at the Breville Wood Festival www.breville.org/spip.php?rubrique95 . We then visited Hubert Landri and Alain and Babette Mailland, merci beaucoup pour touts mes amis!:) While we were at Alain and Babette’s we started working on our first collaborative pieces.

Our styles and techniques are inspired by a shared love and concern for the natural world around us and an almost… ok…totally obsessive passion for pattern and texture. Initially we created objects that were familiar to us and passed them back and forth to work on and then played with how they might fit together.

‘Cevennes’ – Carved, painted, wood burning.

After France Melissa went home with plans to meet up with me again in Austria and demonstrate alongside me at the Magma ‘Open Doors’ and hopefully travel to Australia with me and then back to NZ for a few months. Meanwhile I went on to Geneva to stay and work with Jerome and Marta Blanc again.

Magma www.magma-tools.de Open Doors was as much fun as usual!

This time they gave me a nice Titan to work on but the carving was a little tricky with the new seating position!!

Here’s a piece Melissa and I started together while demonstrating at Magma, currently being shown in Grovewood Gallery.

‘One more no more” – Turned, carved, painted, burnished wood.

Inspired again by our concern for endangered species and environments and a reflection of the fun time we shared together in Austria:)

After Austria we went on to Australia, only a coupla letters but a world apart! First stop was Melbourne to visit my youngest son Adrian for his birthday and catch up with friends then back to work in Queensland for workshops at Cooroora Institute www.cooroorainstitute.org and at Richard Vaughan’s Studio www.richardvaughan.com.au Both classes were a lot of fun, Melissa was assisting and throwing in her take on design and sculpting/painting techniques and if I do say so myself we make a pretty good team, Mel will be brushing up on her turning skills too so that we can co-teach a lot more in the future:):)

After the class at Richards we stayed on for another 9 days to work in his studio, thanks mate:):) It’s always hard finding time on the road to get stuff made.

‘Feral Pair’ – turned, carved, painted wood.

A combination of our different forms which then led to….


which then led to a major sculptural installation for a new house in Dalls, TX. Pics soon…

After Brisbane we headed home to go straight into the selling of my land and packing up my 50+ years of life and accumulation!!! And we only have a month to do it and find a new place to live and work on the commission which had to be completed, delivered and installed in Dallas at the beginning of Feb, no pressure eh!!

Land sale went smooth, Melissa and friends worked hard helping me pack and even harder convincing me to let go of a lot of treasure, you know, that might be useful one day stuff! Multiple trailer loads to friends/family/auction/dump…sigh….ah well, it’s only stuff right!

Found a nice workshop with a showroom front bit that we could lease for 6months and moved in 2 weeks before xmas. The apartment that we were going to move into upstairs fell through so we did the bohemian thing and lived in the showroom. Nice to roll outta bed and straight to work, also loved no yard work or building maintenance and being 2 minutes walk from downtown Whangarei:) The crew at The Quarry www.quarryarts.org were wonderful letting us use their shower/laundry facilities and we had a fun time there in Jan co-teaching a week class at the Summer Do:) Thanks heaps Andrea, Catherine & Hayley…you rock!!!

Then it was head down in the workshop getting our commission done, lots of long days/nights. Fortunately our workshop had a nice big white wall that we could install on as we finished pieces. There are 16 individual pod forms, turned, carved, painted and burnished.

title – ‘Confluence’

Here’s a couple of process shots. The pods are turned spindles that are then split on the bandsaw and carved out. Melissa uses a bandsaw and sanding machine to cut and shape the inner form which, along with the pod interior, is chip carved and painted.

Then the inner form is captured inside the pod halves with screws from the back so that they could be dismantled easily and packed inside 2 suitcases, 1 large box and 2 carry on parcels. And we flew to Dallas with it all! We flew cattle class and the kind staff at Air NZ stashed our carry on bits safely up in the 1st class cabin for us…THANK YOU:)

Everything arrived with no damage…whew! Installation went great, specially with Mel’s great idea to create a template so we could quickly put it up just like it was in our workshop.

Clients were happy!:)

Then we went to Asheville for 2 weeks to meet Melissa’s family/friends and suss out a place to stay and work when we get there.

Only downside was SNOW!!!!! Had my first snow shoveling experience so we could get out of the place we were staying, not up there in my most memorable experience list but I guess I could get used to it!

Did have fun making snow kiwis and ice skating..sans skates!!!

But it did get old when my hands froze after 5 minutes!!!

Then it was home again for a week and straight into our CollaboratioNZ www.collaborationz.co.nz event which was so much fun, thanks to all the organizing committee for all your hard work, it was very nice just to be there for the fun for a change:)

Then we had to sell/pack up everything again and fit what we couldn’t bring to the US with us or part with into a 20′ container to be stored until……….?

Well this has turned into a bit of a novel…thanks again to all those who have hosted, arranged work, looked after, purchased artwork, and supported us in our new adventure:):)

Since coming to Asheville I have been amazed by the generosity and support of Mel’s family and friends in helping us getting established here, especially friends who have given a house to live in and caretake until we get on our feet and also to our mutual friend Dan Essig www.danielessig.com who has welcomed us into his studio in the Grovewood community to work until we find our own.

And thanks for the eggs David!!:)


Graeme & Melissa

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