January Demo – Eileen Collins

I learned about Fiber Reactive Dyes as a Textile Arts Major in college, using them extensively to study and understand color and what role that plays in the design process. After graduation from the University of Washington, I went back to college, getting myself an Industrial Engineering degree. I worked at Boeing, including several years in the Development Center and Paint Hangars, and went to school to learn how to use a paint sprayer and how to paint airplanes. When I pursued my engineering degree, I never imagined that my art background would be such an integral part of my thinking and enable me to be a better engineer. The combination of art and engineering makes me very inspired to make beautiful pieces of art while considering fit, form and function in every aspect of development.

In 2012, I bought my first lathe and began turning wood. When I retired a few years ago, I began coloring my wood, graduating to a larger lathe, and have explored many options in coloring wood.

Although many of my pieces are functional, it is the art bowls which people find interesting and unique. My goal in coloring is to preserve the presence of the wood, and enhance its beauty, not cover it up. Many of my finished pieces have no coloring. Why is that? The beauty of these pieces stands on their own, without enhancements.

Professional? Not by some standards, if you measure it by income. Most of my work involves making bowls and art pieces for local charity fundraisers including Empty Bowls and Dunn Gardens. I have sold a few things but do not turn wood to make money. I have turned things as small as lace bobbins for a doll house (1 cm long, 0.017” diameter), and much larger pieces such as 18” salad bowls and art bowls.

I was told one time, many years ago, that I am not an artist because I do not make money doing it. I was very young but had self-confidence. My response was, “I am a true artist, because I am not limited to making something that will sell, but making what I want that has quality, beauty, uniqueness, vision and meaning. It doesn’t matter how long it takes me to make it.”