Barry Genzlinger turned his first pieces of wood on a lathe under watchful eye of his grandfather in the early 1960s and soon fell in love with the medium as well as the process of turning. He turned a number of earrings, rings and other tiny items. He then began a long career as a teacher, husband, father and computer software designer which kept him away from the lathe. In 2006, almost 45 years after turning his first pieces, he purchased his first mini-lathe and set out to make a beautiful bowl. After an hour of work it turned out to be a spinning top. He made an attempt at turning a goblet. Another top! A pepper mill. Another top! Finally he figured it out. He should be making tops!
Many of Barry’s tops are elegant works of art. Some take more than 10 hours to make. All are made from repurposed wood. He gives wood scraps and discarded wooden items a second life; a new purpose; a repurposing. Repurposing is more than just reusing. It involves taking a discarded item, like a dining room chair thrown in a dumpster, and using the parts to make something completely different than the original chair.
In 2013 he began turning bowls. He had many friends who were making beautiful larger bowls but none were making small bowls. Through his years of making small spinning tops he had developed his skills at making small things so he used these skills to make small and tiny bowls. His smallest to date is a goblet that is only ¼ inch in diameter!
Turning a top is like turning a bowl. The mechanics are the same. Careful tool work, patient sanding, and application of a finish produce a beautiful result. But there is one factor that makes turning a top a bit more challenging than turning a bowl. Balance. An unbalanced top spins with a wobble, sometimes slight and other times very pronounced. This wobble is hidden in the characteristics of the wood until the top is completed, removed from the lathe and spun for the first time. A piece of wood that appears exceptional for producing a perfectly balanced top in reality produces disappointing results. Bowls are much more forgiving. Flaws in the wood often enhance the beauty of a bowl.
In 2016 Barry began collaborating with painter Emily Culver. He turned a bowl and Emily painted it. The results are stunning and unique works of art.
Barry Genzlinger is a juried member of Vermont Hand Crafters, a juried artist at the Grand Isle Art Works, a juried artist at the Artist In Residence Gallery in St. Albans and a member of the Milton Artists Guild.