In November 2006, more than 100 students at Warren Wilson learned how to use a wood lathe, a traditional Appalachian skill. They learned how to make honey dippers, bowls and flower vases. This past November, another wave of students participated in the workshops.
Joe Ruminski ’73, president of the Carolina Mountain Woodturners Association (CMW), volunteers his time to make this possible. The CMW, which meets in Asheville at the Folk Art Center, is the largest chapter club of the American Association of Woodturners.
Retirement means different things to different people. After Ruminski retired from being a high school principal, he discovered two things: he could not stop teaching, and he really liked woodturning. What began as a retirement hobby soon became a business. He now owns two lathes and supplemental machines, has made over 500 wooden pieces for the Biltmore Estate and Warren Wilson College, and travels around the Southeast teaching.
When Ruminski comes to Warren Wilson, he brings a mobile learning lab of 10 lathes. Twice he has brought with him another professional turner who donates her time. Why does he do it?
“Turning has become an important part of my life, so I want to share it with others who desire the experience,” he says. “It is such a reward to come back to WWC after being a student here and teaching current students. They have always been very curious and helpful in so many ways.”
Warren Wilson junior Paige Heron describes the lathing process as “artistic, enjoyable and practical. We have a working lathe at the campus support shop that I can use anytime, now that I know how.”