A local wood-crafting club has turned its passion for creating unique wood pieces into a compassion project for women who lose their hair during chemotherapy.
The Central Florida Woodturners made 50 wig stands and donated them to the Orlando Health Cancer Institute in Ocoee Tuesday, Aug. 8. All the stands serve the same purpose, but each one is unique in wood type, color, design and height because of each artist’s individual woodworking style.
“As you know, the usual Styrofoam heads, they’re ugly, they’re not very sturdy,” Pam Bozkurt, club secretary, said during the presentation to the cancer center. “You take the wig off, and there’s this ugly piece of Styrofoam on your dresser. Instead, you take the wig off and you have this (wooden stand) sitting on your dresser, which is much prettier.”
The Central Florida Woodturners club, which is the local chapter of the American Association of Woodturners, has within it a smaller group of females who call themselves Women in Turning. They meet regularly at a Central Florida wood shop. In March, Bozkurt asked the women if they would like to make some wig stands to donate. They loved the idea and started making them.
The women hoped to make a greater impact and opened it up to all the CFWT members in hopes the men would agree to make it a club project.
“Although they don’t need a wig or wig stand, they have wives, mothers, daughters, sisters who have gone through (chemotherapy),” Bozkurt said.
To make it more interesting, members engaged in a wig stand contest, and there were 35 entries. Those in attendance at the June meeting chose their first, second and third favorites, and the top three went to Louisville, Ky, to be displayed at the American Association Woodturners International Symposium.
Those three will be donated as well.
Bozkurt said the tops of the stands are sealed with a water-based polycrylic finish which is void of oil or wax and doesn’t affect the wig.
“They’re all so beautiful, and we will continue making these,” Bozkurt said. “It’s a great collaboration between Orlando Health and our club.”
Bozkurt became interested in the hobby during the pandemic. She located a local man giving one-on-one instructions on woodturning, took one class from him and was hooked.
Danny Hoffman owns a woodturning shop with 15 lathes that is free to club members. Bozkurt joined the woodturners club and currently is serving as secretary. She said she has been visiting the workshop every Wednesday for two years.
“They’re just a wonderful group of people who give very lovingly without thinking,” she said.
Club members engage in other community service projects as well. They create wooden covered boxes and donate to the Beads of Courage program, which gives beads to seriously ill children every time they have a medical visit.
The woodturners also make wooden ornaments for the Orlando Museum of Art to decorate a Christmas tree in November and December, and they participate in the Maker Fair at the Central Florida Fairgrounds.
“We’re trying to get people into woodturning,” Bozkurt said. “It’s a dying art, we’re trying to get young people. We have three young turners who are in middle school. It’s such a fun hobby and the nice thing is, it’s not like making furniture, where it takes a week to do it. You can turn one of those wig stands in a couple hours if you’re an OK woodturner. We have physicians, we have teachers, we have professors, we have attorneys, realtors. It’s open for everyone.”
To join, visit centralfloridawoodturners.org and click on become a member or show up to any meetings in Casselberry.
“Wig stands are also great for practicing basic turning techniques,” Bozkurt said “It gives the newer turners a sense of accomplishment to make something ‘worthy’ of the cause and keeps the effort going.”
The club will continue making wig stands and donating them to cancer treatment centers in Central Florida.