Over the winter holidays, I was able to get some woodturning lessons from Frank Bock in Charlotte, North Carolina. He's got a great woodworking shop in his backyard that he built himself. It's got a woodburning stove to keep it warm in the winter, two wood lathes, a drill press, and a number of other useful tools. I made two bowls and a couple of pens.
My first bowl was from a blank (i.e. a log), but since the wood was green, the bowl warped substatially when it dried. After a bit more practice, Frank let me make a bowl from one of his rough-cut bowls that he had drying for a couple months. This bowl is made from ambrosia maple, which has a really beautiful pattern to it. The dark coloration is caused by the ambrosia beetle, which discolors the wood as it burrows through. The bowl was finished with some spray laquer, and sanded smooth.
I also made a number of pens for myself and as gifts for others. The pen hardware can be bought in kit form, with all the relevant springs, ink cartriges, and other bits. The wooden part of the pen is actually a very thin cylinder of wood glued around a smaller brass tube. The whole assembly press-fits together. These pens are coated in cyanoacrylate glue (super glue) for a nice, hard finish.