Chris Ramsey, Kentucky, USA

Chris Ramsey is a woodturner from Somerset Kentucky who was introduced to woodturning in 1992 by his identical twin brother, David. Chris is best known for his turned and carved sculptural bowls as well as wearable wooden hats. “I visited a store in Old Town, Berea, KY and spotted a beautiful natural edge bowl made by a local artist named Rude Osolnik. That was the spark that lit the fire in me to pursue woodturning as a hobby. A few years later I met Rude and we became good friends. Rude opened my eyes to the multitude of possibilities that can be turned.

I have always found turning natural edge pieces to be my greatest desire in woodturning thanks to Rude Osolnik. I took a course with JoHannes Michelsen turning a cowboy hat. Since then I have made a few hats but prefer turning natural edge.

Chris’ background was in fiber optics and he was the President/CEO and owner of American Network Cable, a fiber optic/telecommunications company in south central Kentucky.  I made a wonderful living in fiber optics.

When my gallery and collector sales reached a sustainable level, I decided to sell my company and turn full time. I don’t miss crawling around in hot attics. To be able to make a living from something I enjoy is incredibly rewarding.  Chris’ work can be found in numerous galleries, craft shops, in many private collections, corporate collections, permanent collections and museums. In 2003 Chris was invited to the White House by President George W. Bush for a ceremony in the Oval Office to present the sitting President with one of his turned wood cowboy hats.  Through woodturning I have met many celebrities including movie stars, producers, directors, country music performers, professional athletes’ and heads of State.

Chris’ work has been exhibited throughout North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Africa.   I’ve been blessed to have my work included in many notable collections.  The White House Permanent Collection, Washington, D.C., The George W. Bush Presidential Library, Dallas, TX, Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA, Museum of Appalachia, Clinton, TN, The Toyota Museum, Nagakute, Japan, The Kentucky Governor’s Mansion Permanent Collection, Frankfort, KY, The Sam Houston University Permanent Collection, Huntsville, TX, The Walter Meier Permanent Collection, La Vergne, TN, The Brown Forman Permanent Collection, Louisville, KY, The Wrigley Collection, Catalina Island, CA, The Goth Collection, NY, The Daniel Collection, London, England.

Demos

Closed Form Natural Edge Bowl Demo
I will demonstrate how to turn the closed form natural edge bowl using only the bowl gouge with a modified grind. Although the rim or mouth of the bowl is closed inward there is no need for a hollowing tool or system. The closed form is an excellent way to challenge yourself, improve your turning skills and venture outside your comfort zone. I will demonstrate how to get a very clean, smooth cut on both the exterior and interior surfaces of the bowl. The grind of the tool and the cuts you can make with this modified grind will change the way you turn. With a little practice this grind will eliminate the ridges and valleys we have all experienced with a typical hollowing tool or system. The cuts you will learn will greatly reduce your sanding time substantially. You will be able to begin sanding with a higher grit and spend more time turning and less time sanding. This demonstration will cover wood selection, how to properly cut the blank and visually balance the bowl. I will include natural edge bark stabilization, tool control, and the shortcuts to a smooth cut that will eliminate problems associated with torn grain.
The Full Size Hat Demonstration
The full size wearable wood hat is a fun project with a final product that is sure to turn a few heads. In this demonstration I will demonstrate the step by step easiest way to turn a wearable outback hat. I’ll begin with fresh cut or “green” timber and cover wood selection and grain orientation for a perfectly balanced grain pattern. The hats are turned to a final thickness of 1/8 of an inch using calipers and a light source to gauge the wall thickness of the hat. The profile and shape that is turned is of great importance so that the bending process into an oval and the final shape of the brim can be achieved. I will discuss the modified grind of the bowl gouge and cover all tools needed for this project including a lighted jam chuck. I hold no secrets and will supply all information to attendees including the formula for a perfect fit. I will discuss wood movement and shrinkage as the hat dries and the proper way to bend the hat without cracking. You will gain all of the knowledge necessary to create your very own comfortable fit wooden hat.
The Mini Hat Demonstration
The mini hat is a fun project to turn that can be accomplished on any size lathe including a mini lathe. The mini hat is a product from the cored cap section of a full size hat or can be made from the branch of a tree. We will discuss wood selection, wood preparation, grain orientation, visual balance for an even bend, wood movement and bending techniques used. You will learn how to burnish the hat band using exotic woods that give an attached appearance of the hat band. You will become familiar with using light to gauge wall thickness and will gain the knowledge to create mini hats of your own. Learning to turn mini hats will increase your comfort level of thin-wall turning and prepare you with the knowledge and skills needed to turn a full size hat if so desired. I hope every attendee will make mini hats. The mini hats sell incredibly well and are an enjoyable project with little time and expense invested.