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History of the Brasstown Woodturners Guild
Brasstown Woodturners Guild


CONGRATULATIONS: BWG will be celebrating our 20th anniversary with the AAW in 2015.

The Brasstown Woodturners Guild was born sometime in May of 1993 when a few wood turners (Don Westerman, Lissi Oland, & Herb Mulligan) got together and decided they had enough in their area to try to form a group to help each other. The first meeting was held in Westerman’s back yard the evening of July 6th, 1993, with the addition of Fred Yaxley, Mike McKinney, Joe Francis & Bob Miller. This was a start and Lissi Oland generously made her studio available for our meetings.

At the January 1994 meeting, they decided to elect officers to try to be an effective group: Lyle Smith, President, Doug Barnes/Glen Love, Program, Joe Francis, Newsletter, Don Meyers, Treasurer, and Lissi Oland, Secretary. Later on in Dec. 1995, with 26 members in attendance, they voted on the by-laws and applied for AAW membership.

Lissi provided the Club with a meeting place for the first year. A bank in Murphy was used time or two, as was the Murphy High School. In the spring of 1996, Doug Barnes (then President) obtained the use of the Brasstown Community Center building ($315 rental per year). The club was able to purchase a Jet lathe for club use, bought a large shop vac, and a grinder was donated by Bob Fisher. We also had a lending library of books/videos and a Stewart tool system, which would be rented for $5 per month. Steve Goines from Blairsville, provided us with license plate signs of the “Brasstown Woodturners Guild.”

In 1996, the Club adopted the woodturning section of the JCCampbell Folk School with the support headed by one of our members, Willard Baxter, who was the resident artist at that time. The Club refurbished and re-equipped the turning section, Rude Osolink made large and generous donations for new equipment and several new lathes were obtained from Craft Supplies with an additional donation from Dale and Darrel Nish. Sixteen or more of our club members donated their time and labor to remodel and repaint the turning studio, build tool stands for each station. Glen Love re-wired the studio, and the club donated a grinder to the school. On April 22, 1996 the Club had 43 paid members and donated $1,000 to the WT studio for resurfacing of the floor with all the labor provided by Club members.

In June of 1999, Talmadge Murphy designed the BWG Logo which we currently use.


In the spring of 2000, with the National AAW Symposium being held in Charlotte, NC, it was decided that the Club should get together and turn a cooperative challenge to submit. The design, a tricycle, was by Talmadge Murphey, who used a computer assisted design program to design the components of the tricycle. Fifteen guild members created the tricycle’s parts out of 50 different kinds of wood, based on the design specifications provided by Talmadge. It was up to the druthers of the assignee as to what wood to use, along with various beads, coves, etc. Woodturners taking part were: Doug Barnes, Willard Baxter, Paul Bradshaw, Peter Bircumshaw, Bobby Clemons, Bob Fisher, Lee Holt, James Leonard, Glen Love, Talmadge Murphey, Louis Poor, Joan and John Watkins, Don Westerman, with Jack Parrish turning the bowl-shaped basket from a piece of cherry. It is currently being housed at the library in Hayesville. (Archives AAW July/Aug/ 2000)


Starting off with the bare minimum of equipment, the Club grew to 52 members by 2000, and was continuing to meet in the Brasstown Community Center. Funds were initiated to raise enough money to buy a PowerMatic lathe from a member moving to Florida.

In the summer of 2000, it was discussed at a Club meeting, that Glen Love would get together with the Superintendent of the Clay County school system with the idea of furnishing the industrial arts program at the Hayesville High School with mini lathes and all the equipment to get the students involved in woodturning.

Specifically: 4 members donated 8 Jet mini lathes; Club donated $500 worth of basic gouges, etc., 3 members donated tools and longer tool rests; 2 members organized and taught turning lessons to the instructor, 1 member donated 8 face shields. In return the School provided the Club with a monthly meeting place.

During the course of the Club’s association with the school, a large number of the students developed very good turning skills and moved on to more complicated turning projects. As a result, it became apparent that there was a lack of special purpose tools, finishing & polishing equipment, lathe accessories, etc. Two addition Jet mini-lathes would also provide needed additional stations for the students. So BWG applied for an AAW Educational Opportunity Grant . Once granted, BWG maintained an established working relationship with the Clay County School Board and their staff to have a meeting place with tools/equipment for demonstrations at no cost to the Guild and foremost, the opportunity to promote and teach woodturning in the area.

The Industrial Arts Program now has the original 10 mini Jets, plus 3 16x42 Jet lathes, and 2 PowerMatic lathes. Several members of the Club meet with the IA teacher to instruct the students on woodturning, and the Club still holds their meetings at the High School the 1st Saturday of each month. BWG currently gives HHS $600 per year for the use of the building, and for HHS to purchase any needed woodturning tools and/or repairs to the equipment.

Marsha L. Barnes, VP - BWG

October 12, 2014


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