Days 11-12: Echo Lake

The Bucks County Woodturners hold an annual event called Echo Lake, this year June 12-15, in the craft and art studios at Bucks County Community College in Newtown PA. The club invites turners, carvers, artists, and furniture makers to join their members in a three-day collaborative make-a-thon, and the ITE group jumps in. In all about 60 people participate, amateur woodworkers and turners playing together with and alongside educators and professional wood artists. Lots to see and learn in this yeasty mix!

The event begins on Wednesday evening when everyone brings three slides of their recent work and a stash of false starts, abandoned projects, found objects, and raw materials to share in a chaotic potluck of stuff. Then it’s two-and-a-half days of frenetic work in the excellent Bucks studios, turning, carving, sawing,  assembling and finishing. Here’s a glimpse, some of these photos are by me and some by my wife, Tina Fruchter. We two often collaborate on photography and events but Echo Lake was the first time we had worked together on a  wood project. We had a blast.

Echo Lake begins at the tables of materials, abandoned projects, parts, and junk that participants bring to share.

Echo Lake begins at the tables of materials, abandoned projects, parts, and junk that participants bring to share. 

Joe Seltzer is chair of the club committee that organizes the annual Echo Lake event. There is no actual lake, the name comes from Emma Lake, the original collaborative workshop weekend created by the Canadian artist Michael Hosaluk.

Joe Seltzer is one of the club committee members that organize the annual Echo Lake conference. The others are John Mathews, Mark Sfirri, Bill Smith and Bil Sticker. There is no actual lake, the name comes from Emma Lake, the original collaborative workshop weekend created by the Canadian artist Michael Hosaluk.

Ben Carpenter joins the team that plans to construct a winged dragon.

Ben Carpenter of the 2013 ITE joins the team that plans to construct a winged dragon.

Neil Turner sketches an idea on a found bowl blank. Neil collaborated in sequence, making or embellishing a piece then passing it along to someone else to continue with their own ideas.

Neil Turner sketches an idea on a found bowl blank. Neil collaborated in sequence, making or embellishing a piece then passing it along to someone else to continue with their own ideas.

Your reporter, John Kelsey, grabbed this carved head from the treasure trove of junk and dove into the project.

Your reporter, John Kelsey, grabbed this carved head from the treasure trove of junk and dove into the project.

Pretty soon, working with my wife Tina Fruchter, we had gathered this promising batch of parts. We have never collaborated on an at project before. We decided to assemble a life-size figure.

Pretty soon, working with my wife Tina Fruchter, we had gathered this promising batch of parts. We have never collaborated on an art project before. We decided to assemble a life-size female figure.

Ed Kelle discusses an idea with Leah Woods, in the painting studio.

Ed Kelle discusses an idea with Leah Woods, in the painting studio.

Mark Sfirri considers some wood bits. Mark is head of the woodworking program at Bucks County Community College, and an avid Echo Lake participant.

Mark Sfirri considers some wood bits. Mark is head of the woodworking program at Bucks County Community College, and an avid Echo Lake participant.

Russell Baldon, head of the furniture program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, carves a face on the collaborative community totem pole.

Russell Baldon, head of the furniture program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, carves a face on the collaborative community totem pole.

Two power carvers set up shop on the patio behind the woodshop. They're chatting about local canoeing rivers as they develop their pieces.

Tom Buchner and Mike Kehs set up power-carving shop on the patio behind the wood studio. They’re chatting about local canoeing rivers as they develop parts for their projects.

The dragon team sees wings in a ruined walnut bowl.

The dragon team sees wings in a ruined walnut bowl.

Keith Holt and Norm Sartorius chat together while working on hand-held carvings with hand-held rasps, files,and sandpaper.

Keith Holt and Norm Sartorius chat together while refining carvings with hand-held rasps, files, and sandpaper.

Tina Fruchter tries power carving using Keith Holt's Foredom set-up. Keith bandsawed the hand, Tina is shaping it.

Tina Fruchter tries power carving using Keith Holt’s Foredom set-up. Keith bandsawed the hand, Tina is shaping it.

Phil Hauser gets hands-on turning advice. Put your faceshield down, Phil.

Phil Hauser gets hands-on turning advice from club president Matt Overton. 

Some of them are still at work at 9 pm on Friday evening, including your intrepid reporter. The woodworking studio combines machines and benches in one large space, now totally cluttered with Echo Lake projects and tool set-ups.

Some of them are still at work at 9 pm on Friday evening, including your intrepid reporter. The woodworking studio combines machines and benches in one large space, now totally cluttered with Echo Lake projects and tool set-ups.

Donna creates an oasis of calm order in the painting studio.

Donna creates an oasis of calm order in the painting studio. She’s working on a collaboration called Resource Table.

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