Writer Profile for Bob Heltman

Bob Heltman Photo

Bob Heltman

Hendersonville, NC

In grade school, Mr. Wasmuth taught a woodturning class and Mr. Larson one in metal work. Both involved brief experiences with lathes. Then many years passed.

Much later, when living in West Redding, Connecticut back in the 1980s, my next door neighbor and good friend Frank Kokoska loaned me a home made wood turning lathe. He got it in payment for a debt to him. This lathe must have been made by hand back in the depression years of the 1930s. It was constructed of “rock maple” with metal bed rails for the lathe’s bed, and metal inserts in both the head and tail stocks. The motor was from an old washing machine and speed changes were via step pulleys. This lathe got a lot of heavy use and wound up strengthened with metal strapping.

With this lathe I did many turnings and sold pieces in area craft shows. I joined the new AAW (American Association of Woodturners) as an early member. In those days I won a fluted butternut bowl by Al Stirt, still treasured, and a gouge from legendary Rude Osolnik, later auctioned off to a fellow member of CMW (Carolina Mountain Woodturners.org).

Then a major life-change happened: I started a new business, moved to North Carolina, and stopped turning wood between 1987 and 2002.

Next, my wife enticed me to visit Wood Day at the Folk Arts Center located just Northeast of Asheville, NC. Warren Carpenter turned a bowl and gave it to me, rekindling my interest in wood turning. Soon after, I bought a NOVA 3000 DVR, and joined CMW.

From 2002 to 2007 my goal was to turn 3 very good pieces for “show and tell” at the CMW’s monthly meeting’s Instant Gallery. My skills grew, influenced by the many world class demonstrators guested at CMW’s monthly meetings. I also became club librarian, viewing and adding many “how to” videos and CDs; it is now probably the world’s best woodturning library. This led to my being a CMW board member and editor of its newsletter, The Mountain Woodturner. Most of my turnings were for family and friends, and I began writing little stories about these experiences.

In 2007 the effects of a hospital operation reduced my physical energy to about 1/2 and I dropped out of editing, board work, and much turning.

As energy slowly came back I turned more, but noticed that I liked writing and inventing new tools and approaches better than doing a great amount of turning. This led to my publishing in the AAW Journal (A Pleasant Time with Ron Kent), and then both More Woodturning and Woodturning Design magazines.

One of the most influential books I’ve read is “Art & Fear” by Bayles and Orland. Their main point is that when you turn to sell or get prizes you are turning for others, and not to express yourself. Since then I’ve taken delight in turning and writing whatever pleases me. That is a big breakthrough for anybody. Try it! Learn from others but do your own thing.

So, go forth, enjoy yourself, and maybe a few useful ideas will come to you from these articles.


Contact Info:

Phone: (828) 692-9333
Email: bobh@leadingedgepands.com
Web Site: http://www.leadingedgepands.com/