Over the weekend, I demonstrated at our local Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival where I made spinning tops for kids – and a few for those that are no longer kids, but are kids at heart. Most people have never seen a lathe before and have no idea how it works, so it invariably draws a crowd. I enjoy it and the kids love watching a spinning piece of wood turn into a spinning top. Occasionally, a parent will ask how much it costs and my response is that the only currency I accept is smiles. I even got a couple of hugs this weekend, so maybe I’ll have to increase my price from smiles to hugs!
I always take a chatter tool with me so I can make patterns on the top surface of the top. Before I use it, I always tell the child that it should be called a screech tool, because that’s the way it sounds. That way they are not surprised or frightened by the sound and it builds the suspense. Sometimes they come back to my booth several times during their visit to hear the screech tool work.
I take a package of Sharpie markers in a wide variety of colors and I ask each child what their two favorite colors are. Then I apply those colors to the chatter tool marks. Children, and adults as well, are fascinated by how the color magically appears when I touch the marker to the spinning wood. What would normally be just another wooden top becomes something special with their favorite colors highlighting the chatter patterns. Their eyes really light up when they see the colorful patters on their top.
The best response of the weekend was from a little red haired girl of about four. She was very attentive when I was making her top, but I couldn’t get a word out of her. Then, when she and her mother were walking away, I heard her say, “This is SO awesome!” It made my weekend!
I also met a very special ten year old this weekend. Her name was Adrianna and she fell in love with the lathe and how it works. She is definitely not an average ten year old! She asked questions about the lathe that were well beyond what I would expect from a child her age. She was with her mother, who was helping out in another booth, and by the end of the day, she had moved her chair into my booth and was helping explain what I was doing.
During a slow period, we were sitting in our chairs and she was quiet for several minutes with a thoughtful look on her face. Finally she said, “I want to be like you!” “I want to make things and sell them at shows.” That was immediately followed by, “So, what are we going to make next?” So I made her a small lidded box.
What a exceptional young lady and what a wonderful experience!