Jo Miller, Woodturning

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Childhood summers in Highlands brought me early to the mountains, their wooded areas and outdoor adventures. I discovered the beauty of wood itself and, in moving to Asheville, saw its potential through visits to craft shows.

Following my first class in 2016, I joined Carolina Mountain Woodturners, which provided monthly demonstrations, group classes and retreats where I learned a variety of techniques enabling me to make turned bowls, boxes, platters, pens, and pendants. After getting my lathe at the end of 2017, my design capabilities grew as I practiced new crafting techniques such as off-centered turning, embellishing, and carving on wood.

I spent a week studying with Harvey Meyer of the American Association of Woodturners to learn the technique of Basket Illusion, in which a turned piece of wood is made to resemble woven basketry. This has become a focus of my work. By combining elements of woodturning, designing, and embellishing, this method brings to fruition my awareness of weaving patterns, color, and texture that can be incorporated into the finished piece.

My inspiration often comes from nature—a bend of a tree limb or the organic intricacies of a flower. The shapes found in pottery or the patterns in a quilt continue to influence my work. But mostly, I let the wood speak to me, defining my direction by its grain, a crack that inspires a design or shape, or even the rough edge of the bark itself.

Jo moved with her husband to Asheville in 2009 from the Chicago area where she taught and did research in reproductive physiology. After a year of “retirement”, she returned to school and worked part time as a physical therapist assistant. Although she learned to knit and sew from her mother and to quilt here in Asheville, as a scientist she is most comfortable with solid forms and graphs which fit well into the art of woodturning and basket illusion. Now officially retired, she has taken over part of her garage and devotes much of her time to woodturning. 


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