A tribute to the teacher who introduced me to woodturning

In 2001 I began a two year residency program in furniture making at the Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts. While there I decided to take on a domain of woodworking I had zero experience with: Woodturning. Andy Motter was my teacher. He was one of the kindest and most patient teachers I have ever encountered. Andy was also a gifted woodturner in his own right. Sadly, Andy passed away four years ago. This blog is a tribute to his legacy. 

The first project he taught us was how to make a maple spurtle. A spurtle is a long cooking utensil which originated in Scotland and is largely unknown in North America. I happen to love it and use it frequently.  It is thin enough to navigate and stir thick batters and is best known to help in cooking porridge. Later, I found out that it is the perfect tool for mixing any kind of grain or nut butter that has set for too long on the shelf, something that causes the oils to separate from the solids. If you buy natural peanut or almond butter, or if you are a consumer of raw Tahini, you probably are aware of the challenges (and potential liability to your silverware) of re-mixing the nut butter. Try mixing the stuff with a spoon and most likely it will bend. Try using the handle of your wooden spoons and you will find that it is uncomfortable to hold and stir for a long time. Sure, you can take the jar to the nearest home Depot and ask then to mix it for you in their paint mixing machine (or you can buy the machine yourself), but seriously…. I think that the best tool for the job is a reliable wooden Spurtle. It is a great woodwoking project that you can complete in an hour. It makes a great gift too. Here is the Spurtle that I built in Andy's class.


In this picture you can see the spurtle in my hand as I am stirring raw Tahini later to become a Tahini sauce. I the next picture you can see the Spurtle on the cutting board and my Tahini, garlic, parsley, lemon Tahini sauce. 

To read more about Andy Motter, his woodturning and teaching legacy please visit the obituary webpage that was written by Alan Mitchell http://www.woodschoolnh.com/AndyMotter.html

American Woodworker Blog
Yoav Liberman

About Yoav Liberman

Yoav S. Liberman is a woodworker and a teacher. His pieces have been featured in several woodworking books, most recently in Robin Wood’s CORES Recycled. Yoav teaches woodworking at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, and also frequently guest teaches in craft schools across the country.  Between 2003 and 2011 Yoav  headed the woodworking program at Harvard University's Eliot House. Yoav’s articles have appeared in American Woodworker and Woodwork Magazine. He frequently contributes woodworking web content to a number of digital publications   Yoav has a degree in architecture and later held two competitive residency programs: at The Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, and the Windgate Foundation Fellowship at Purchase College, New York. He lives in Chestnut Ridge NY.