Doug Gordon

I took up woodturning after retiring to Nelson in 1995. Wood has always been my passion and after 20 years of running my own engineering business in Queenstown, I decided it was time to rediscover the beauty and versatility of wood.

I live in the Nelson region with my partner, Robyn, and our two cats. For more information about me, read the following article.

Woodturning changed lifestyle

Doug Gordon, Redwood Valley Turnery The Leader, December 11, 2003

When Redwood Valley woodturner Doug Gordon had a car accident in 1974 he was left paralysed on one side, spent six weeks in intensive care and a further seven months in hospital.

The accident meant he had to take a year off work and give up his career as a builder. Despite intensive medical treatment, he remains semi-paralysed to this day. "It has left me with a partial right-side hemiplegia," he says. "It's the same symptoms that you get from a stroke but it came from a different cause." However, he has refused to let his disability restrict his lifestyle. "You can't sit around feeling sorry for yourself."

After the car accident he realised it was no longer possible for him to be a builder. So after a recuperation period working in a hardware store, he started an engineering business which he ran for 19 years. He was based in Queenstown but says he grew tired of the way the town was developing and wanted "to get out of the rat race".

So he moved to Nelson in 1995 as his partner is originally from the city. In an effort to meet people, he joined the Nelson Districts Woodturning group soon after he arrived. "There's a certain rapport you have with people who are into woodturning." It was a decision that was to change his lifestyle. He started to devote a large amount of time to woodturning and these days he spends seven days a week working at his craft.

After becoming frustrated at his lack of success at selling his work through local art and crafts shops he subsequently built his own studio, called the Redwood Valley Turnery. He did this shortly after he moved from Stoke to his current five-hectare property in Redwood Valley.

While his disabilities slow his work rate, he still produces a prolific amount of work and carries on undeterred. "I do suffer from double vision which makes it hard to measure depth. It makes it difficult sometimes but the brain gets the right message after 30 years."

Because he has a background in engineering, he even makes many of his own tools. He is proud of both the number of different woods he works with and the variety of crafts he produces. "There's probably a bigger variety in this studio than any other studio in New Zealand." He says the crafts he produces include bowls - specifically from New Zealand silver and red beech burls - pens, clocks and wall hangings.

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