Cape May woodturning artist displays original work at Mad Batter Restaurant

Betty Campbell, of North Cape May, chiseled out a pepper mill grinder in her workshop in North Cape May recently.

"You know, it's just kind of interesting - the wood tells her what it wants to become," Mary Stewart, president of the Cape May Artist Cooperative, said.

Stewart is talking about fellow co-op member Betty Campbell, of North Cape May, and her craft of woodturning. The logs, branches and scrap wood that are donated to Campbell, she said, dictate what they're going to be shaped into.

"(The wood) doesn't always want to be what you're trying to force it to be," Campbell said. "It's interesting to see what happens, especially if someone drops off a log in my backyard. I never know what I'm going to get from a log - sometimes its firewood, or sometimes it's a beautiful bowl with bark on it."

Campbell's woodturned art will be displayed at the Mad Batter Restaurant, 19 Jackson St., Cape May, until June 5; there will be a reception May 18.

Campbell creates all of her wooden art on a lathe, a device that spins the wood as she shapes it with different steel tools - similar to a spinning wheel on which clay pots are made.

Campbell spins anything from natural edge bowls to spin tops to backscratchers. Stewart says one of the most popular items at the co-op is Campbell's pepper grinders.

About six years ago, Campbell said, she took an instructional class about woodturning at Vocational Technical School, where she now teaches.

Before that, she did scroll sawing, flat woodworking, and she used to paint on wood with acrylics.

"This is my recreation in retirement," Campbell said. "I do pastels and wood turning, and I'm part of the artist co-op."

Campbell was among the first members of the co-op when it was formed in 2008.

In addition to the artwork that Campbell is displaying at the Mad Batter, she is also hosting a woodturning demonstration behind the artist co-op, 122 Sunset Blvd., West Cape May, May 17 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If people donate wood, Campbell always makes something for them out of it.

"Woodturning is not hard to do, and it's one of those things where I want to do something nice for somebody else, and they have to pay it forward," she said.

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If you go

What: Artist reception with Betty Campbell

When: 3-5 p.m. May 18

Where: Mad Batter Restaurant, 19 Jackson St., Cape May

More info: Show runs until June 5

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