Ornamental Turning in the Information Age (1971 – 2004)

About OT in the Information Age

The lathe, no longer associated with mechanized factory production, became a creative tool for the hobbyists and studio turner. Contemporary pioneers of "plain turning" such as Prestini, Stocksdale, Lindquist and Osolnik inspired a new generation of woodturners which emerged in the 1970s. In 1976, the first woodturning conference in the U.S. was held. That same year, Fine Woodworking published an article featuring Frank Knox which introduced ornamental turning to the entire woodworking community. Perhaps it was no coincidence that reprints of Holtzapffel's books also became available in 1976.

The result was a huge swell of interest in ornamental turning. It inspired Lawler to produce a series of modern ornamental turning lathes beginning in 1985. That same year, the Wood Turning Center and the American Association of Woodturners were both formed, and modern lathe equipment and tools specific to the needs of woodturners became increasingly available. In 1986, Knox published Ornamental Turnery, an enticing book complete with color photographs and an approachable style introducing the craft of ornamental turning. Four years later, Walshaw published Ornamental Turning, which provided more fuel for the surge of popularity that ornamental turning enjoyed.

Ornamental Turners International formed in 1995, and provided a network for ornamental turning in the U.S. which steadily grew to several hundred members. The Society of Ornamental Turners in England continued to grow with over 350 members worldwide.

The World Wide Web (as the Internet was known) came online in the mid-1990s with somewhat slow adoption by a relatively older ornamental turning populace. As internet speeds increased and the benefits became increasingly clear, the shift to discussing and sharing every aspect of ornamental turning online began to rapidly spread.

Toolmakers of the Information Age
  • Walter Balliet
  • Ray Lawler
  • Paul Cler
  • Fred Armbruster
  • Al Collins
  • Lindow-White
Exhibitions in the Information Age

It is sad to think that a group supposedly interested in the history of these fine machine tools would knowingly take part in artificially driving up the price to the point where even senior fellows in the field of O.T. can no longer afford to acquire the tools of their beloved calling, putting them in a terrible bind. Unfortunately narrow profit seekers, who know next to nothing of the history, traditions, and quality associated with Holtzapffel lathes, continue to menace the future of O.T.

Warren Green Ogden, Jr., from "Notes on the History and Provenance of Holtzapffel Lathes" (1987)

The Information Age spawned numerous books and articles on ornamental turning.