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Work by Mary Carol Meinken, a 15-year woodturning veteran / Image: Mary Carol Meinken // Published: 4.18.19

The Woodturner's Guild Teaches Local Women to Create Masterpieces

The women of the Kennedy Heights-based Ohio Valley Woodturners Guild (OVWG) are turning out beautiful works of art, all while helping to turn around some traditional gender stereotypes about woodworking. The number of women within the 31-year-old Guild has risen over the years, with 36 female members currently, ranging in age from 12-year-old girls to women in their 70s.

The mission of the OVWG is to provide a place for people in the Cincinnati area who are interested in the art of woodturning to learn more about it and hone their craft. Anyone can join the organization, with open meetings for people to stop by and learn more about the membership.

“Each [female member] is very unique in their approach to turning,” notes Nancy Bowman, the guild’s Vice President of Programming and liaison to the national Women in Turning initiative. “The normal path that turners take in turning is to learn to do spindle turning, then move on to bowls, and then often pens. The women have a more open approach to turning. You'll find women in our group doing mixed media, jewelry, teapots, and other unique projects.”

The Guild’s Marketing Director, Jack Gormley, says that many women join the group after taking a woodturning class at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, Wood Technology Program. They get quite a few members via UC’s Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) program. Others join after seeing a Guild demonstration at a festival, finding their website via internet search, or simply through word of mouth.

The Guild’s free Introduction to the Learning Center sessions are held a few times a month and provide an overview of turning, including an introduction to the tools and safety procedures. Non-members often take this course to see if they’d like to join. If someone can’t make the scheduled introductory sessions, they can set a private session up with a Guild member.

Members then sign up for open shops, ‘Turn & Learn’ classes, and occasional specialty classes where professionals come in to teach over a one, two, or three-day period. Turn & Learn sessions cost $10 while specialty classes are $95 and up (plus additional materials fees).

Remember how we mentioned 12-year-olds were fans of this woodturning program, too? There is a week-long summer camp for children, held in conjunction with the Kennedy Heights Art Center—the Guild’s workshop is located in the art center’s annex building. Bev Connelly, the Guild’s Director of Youth Turning, notes that the camp often has more girls than boys.

She adds, “Many of our youth have joined because a grandpa or dad or someone within the family was a member and they got experience from them. But we also like it when kids come to us through a camp, or to have both a kid and a parent join at once and turn together. We’d had some success with that.”

The Guild will continue their outreach to women (and girls) in the region and hope to keep turning more women onto the craft.

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The Ohio Valley Woodturners Guild is located at 6620 Montgomery Road (45213). You can learn more about upcoming classes and how to join at their website.