Summer of ART Guest Blog Post – Elisabeth Smith Ross, Member of the American Association of Woodturners

Summer of ART Guest Blog Post – Elisabeth Smith Ross, Member of the American Association of Woodturners

Note from BOC: From June through September, we are shining a spotlight on four amazing communities of volunteer artists and crafters who support our mission year-round with their beautiful donated goods. The handcrafted beads, bags and bowls they donate strengthen our arts-in-medicine mission and bring beauty to the bedside of kids coping with serious illness.

YOU can help with a monetary gift to the Summer of ART fundraising campaign. Be a rock star! Donate $50 or more and receive this awesome TIE DYE T-shirt as our exclusive thank-you gift just for Summer of ART supporters! 


Guest blogger Elisabeth Smith Ross shares:
I first heard about the Beads of Courage program after I became a member of the American Association of Woodturners, which I joined in early 2015. I was new to the scene of the woodturning community, and I was not even a woodturner. I was a homeschooling mom of 3 selling woodturning materials out of my garage. 

I immediately identified with the mission of the program. From November 2013-September 2014 the son of lifelong friends had fought brain cancer. Although he did not participate in Beads of Courage, during that time, I saw first-hand the benefit programs like Beads of Courage provided for critically ill children and their families. I wanted to be involved, but I could not make bead boxes, which is the main way that woodturners are involved. 

When I heard about the Carry a Bead program, I knew that was a way I could be involved. Anyone can carry beads! For the low cost of $15, you receive a set of two beads with a logo charm on a pin. You wear the set while doing ANYTHING, write about it on the enclosed card, and return ONE bead plus the card to Beads of Courage for a child in the program. 

I have carried over 20 beads in the past five years from my first 5k as a brand new runner to the hospital for a devastating foot surgery that I thought had ended my being able to run. I carried them at my first post-surgery race which was more like a walk, at the 10k that I was in last place the entire time, and at every race since, including the one where I took 6 minutes off my 5k time, beating even my pre-injury time. 

I have carried beads at conferences and on vacations. Sometimes I just fill out the card and return. Other times I return the bead with a whole journal of where the bead has gone with me! I think carrying beads is supposed to bring strength and hope to the child, but I find that thinking about the battle the child is fighting brings ME strength and hope while I am carrying the beads. 

Through the years I have enjoyed participating with and advocating for Beads of Courage, so when I took over as chairperson for the Turning Southern Style woodturning symposium, held annually in Dalton, Georgia, I knew I wanted to do something special to raise awareness for the Beads of Courage mission. 

Each year our event collects hand-made bead boxes

and bead bags which are distributed at participating hospitals locally. However in 2018 we also collected wooden tops, turned on the lathe, for Beads of Courage.

Tops are an easy thing to make on the lathe. Many woodturners make them to “warm-up” before starting a project or make them when demonstrating our craft at events. In fact, some events in our field even have head to head top making contests. It is said that a well-made wooden top can spin on the top and the bottom!   

The spin top is one of the oldest toys that archaeologists have discovered. A wooden spin top was discovered in the tomb of King Tut. A top is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad. Tops can be found in fine art from the 15-1700s and several cultures have developed games revolving around the spin top.  

Spin tops are something that can be enjoyed by old and young – from the tiniest of children needing something quiet to play with to the business executive needing to keep his or her hands busy. Some call them the original fidget spinner. We often find spin tops included in the bead boxes we collect for Beads of Courage recipients! Please enjoy the gifts of our labors as you support Beads of Courage. 

Elisabeth Smith Ross is a busy mom of 3 and owner of 2 Tree Boyz Wood, a woodturning blank supply company. Find out more about 2 Tree Boyz Wood at or follow Elisabeth on Instagram @the_wood_lady. She is a member of the American Association of Woodturners, the Georgia Arborist Association, and a board member of the Georgia Association of Woodturners. 

  • Wood top auction link coming soon!