Woodturners guild that turns heads

The Irish Woodturners Guild is one of the oldest guilds of its type in the world. It has more than 750 members in Ireland who specialise in this ancient craft.

AgriLand.ie caught up with wood turner and chairman of the guild Joe Laird.  “The craft of wood-turning has been dying out for the past 30 years. It’s a craft, a skill. But we find with the Recession people are now starting to take an interest again probably because they have time on their hands and they have that time to put in to a new hobby.

  • “During the Boom we were all too busy and no one was taking up the craft. Now it’s good and it is coming back. Wood-turning was a viable business many years back, when turners would solely craft spinals for stairs and handles for kitchen presses and things like that. But that business is long gone and it is mass-produced. Now we make bowls, presentation pieces. Unfortunately you can buy a wooden bowl in your supermarket for 12 euros. We couldn’t make any bowl for less than 30 euros. But it’s an ancient craft we want to preserve.”

The Guild is funded mainly by its members and it does get a small grant from the Craft Council of Ireland. “We are a voluntary organisation so we are non-profit making,” explained Laird.

“The Irish Guild is there to promote the craft. We just try and keep it alive. It’s all voluntary and it’s for the passion of the craft. Most wood turners are passionate about what they do. It’s great fun.

“I’m seventh generation wood turner. It’s terrific. The last appreciate in this country was in 1962 and there has been no more since. Most of the stuff is mass-produced. We can’t afford to compete. The Guild is here to promote and keep the craft alive.”

 Pictured Chairman of the Woodturning Guild in action Joe Laird

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