Some lucky Sylvan Lake students recently enjoyed a close-up view of the intricate art of woodturning.
Red Deer-based Andrew Glazebrook has been honing his tremendous woodturning skills since he was about 12 years old. He is currently an artist-in-residence at H. J. Cody High School which secured a grant through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
“This is the fourth year we’ve brought him in, so we are pretty fortunate,” said Randy Prediger, an industrial education teacher at the school. “Part of having him here is also sharing what he does with other students and the community.
“He piques their imaginations and shows them what is possible.”
Glazebrook, 31, grew up in Rosebud and first discovered his passion for woodworking from his father.
“He actually taught me the most about how to work with these tools.”
Glazebrook eventually found an old lathe and started to explore the range of things that could be created.
Later on, he was mentored by his uncle Michael Hosaluk (one of the world’s most accomplished woodturning artists).
Hosaluk’s pieces can be found in London’s Buckingham Palace, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery and the Royal Ontario Museum.
“He gave me some basic pointers and lessons, but I didn’t spend a lot of time with him in my younger years. But I developed a lifelong yearning to keep on woodturning.”
From there, Hosaluk sent Glazebrook to a production woodturner by the name of Jason Russell in Merrickville, Ont. It was there Glazebrook worked as an apprentice, soaking up more knowledge from exemplary craftsmen while developing his own unique approach to woodturning.
Over the years, he has established himself as quite the artisan, and has been recognized for his craftsmanship and enthusiastic willingness to share his knowledge.
He currently balances his time between teaching more than 2,000 students per year, offering private classes in his workshop and keeping up with his own business of creating work for customers.
“The emphasis for me going into schools is not only to give the students a taste of the tools, techniques and the basics of how to use a lathe properly and understand the wood’s properties, but also to give them a vision of what can be made.
“After a two-week program, they are being creative on their own.”
Lathes allow woodworkers to be in complete control — the wood is spun while the person holds the tools. “You are in control of the shapes, and you can complete projects in a very short time.”
Glazebrook makes the process look quite easy, but of course it’s anything but. It takes a keen sense of design, skill and concentration to create such an stunning array of projects.
During one stint at H. J. Cody, he crafted and textured an ice cream cone and a bumble bee.
The result? Richly-crafted items that had the students mesmerized at what can be fashioned from simple, shapeless pieces of wood.
Sharing his knowledge with students is a way of giving back, he explains.
“When I went to Ontario to work under Jason Russell, he said to me ‘One day, you may have to give back’. For me, I’m now doing that in many aspects.
“I want to continue sharing my interest in woodturning so (students) might develop an interest in it as well, or even working with their hands and being creative.”
Looking ahead, Glazebrook, who has been self-employed for 10 years, is excited about opening his own world-class woodturning centre near Red Deer next year.
Ultimately, although he is quick to credit the life-changing influences on his artistic journey, it really all boil down to dedicating oneself to being the best at a certain mode of expression. That takes years of hard work, focus and an endless fascination with the chosen medium.
“I think if you want to do something, you put time into it and you’re creative on your own, it helps you develop things for yourself.”
The versatility of woodturning also continues to stir up plenty of inspiration for this veteran artist.
“There is always another idea,” he explains. “Out of all the shapes in this world that you think have been explored, there is really an endless sea of working with the lathe which can change shapes and change your ideas. You just keep exploring.”