BY BRIAN RIGGS
Fort Madison Area Arts Association
FORT MADISON – Jim and Sheryl McLain rule the roost at FMAAA feature gallery in the month of March. What a treat for our eyes as the married couple have distinctly differing styles as how they work the wood. They have Froggy Bottom Shop in Milton, Iowa. Meet them at a reception for the couple on March 6th from 5-7pm. Dupont is the sponsor for the exhibition.
Jim and Sheryl have been turning since 2009. Jim has always been handy with tools. He was looking for a direction after retirement and Sheryl soon caught interest in the process. Jim remarks that there is a learning curve to the lathe. It can be scary at first as the wood can buck on you and you are using sharp tools. It takes practice and precision to tame the lathe. Sheryl says, “Wood turning is our hobby, but is more like a passion in that we cannot stay away from it too long. Jim leans towards making larger pieces out of many segments of wood, whereas I enjoy using smaller material units of wood, then use dye, gilt waxes, and epoxy to add what I see in the wood. Sometimes we collaborate on a piece. I design it on paper. Jim comes up with measurements needed to make the shape. He then cuts, sands, and glues. I begin turning the piece and we add more wooden rings in stages until we reach the size we are looking for.”
The McLains talk wood types. Jim explains, “White oak and walnut are very dusty when turned. The easiest to turn is maple. Elm provides interesting features if it is rotten or warm eaten. It has to be epoxied first to preserve it. Koa wood is from Hawaii and only the dead trees are sold at $100 per board foot. The texture is ultra-rich.” Jim admits that Sheryl is the better wood turner. Sheryl relays, “You kind of get a feel for it. I cannot stress enough how sharp you must keep your tools. You get what you pay for on tools and cheaper does you no favors.”
Viewers will admire the segmented design pieces that incorporate differing types of wood. Strips of wood types are cut to 1 1/2 inches thick and plane up to same thickness. Mitre on table saw is set to 15% and segments are angled and tapered on both sides. Then all are glued together with Lightbond 3. When you glue up the ring can get the colors you want and stack the rings to make the design.
The work is something special. See in at FMAAA this month still on expanded hours in short term of: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays/Thursdays from 12 a.m -7 p.m. A beautiful collaborative vessel with leather and turquoise will be available at Expressions Art Auction April 4th at Quality Inn. You know what they say, “The couple that lathes together, stays together.” Come see what this tandem couple from Van Buren county have been turning out at Froggy Bottom Shop.