Power Lathe

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Best Lathe machine/training for hardcore fine artist?

I want something beginner under 3,000, ideally 800 or less. Willing to pay up to 5,000 if necessary for a good one. Are there any that work with metal And Wood... and other stuff like stone or plastic? What other gear do I need? What's the best training? I applied for machine tool technology at my local tech school. Will they tech me the manual stuff or are they focused on CBC software stuff? Are there any hobbysized CNC lathes? Any simple man powered lathes still out there?
*sp CNC
I want to make pseudo-weapons, Geiger-esque sculptures, complex mandalas, useable art like vases. Detail heavy stuff.

How much are and where do I get raw material? Wood isn't hard to find. What about metal? I'm even thinking about carving discarded scrap metal and plastic!
Would I be better off teaching myself off books? If so what titles and where do I find said books?

I would expect that tech schools teach what is requested from businesses in the area, so you need to ask what is offered.
Metal requires a much stronger lathe than wood with stronger motors gears and bearings. Tools on a wood lathe are hand held on a rest while metal tools must be mounted to withstand the forces involved. Most metal lathes are much more complicated than wood lathes and involve screw positioning and drives for the tool mounts so precision can be held. You could work wood on a metal lathe, but messy as wood chips and oil required for machining mix.
But from what you say you want to make, a lathe is pretty much worthless. Lathes make round things, the only thing you mention that is naturally round is vases and those are not normally turned from metal on a lathe from a solid block. Even if I have missed something, do you really want to put unknown metal chunks in your expensive lathe?
I think you need to do more research because what you may want is metal forming, which can involve lathe forming but the lathe is more like a wood lathe, but also includes a lot of other metal handling skills, most of which are not done specifically by hand (like fenders are shaped with an English wheel, not hammered to shape)
You might contact some of the people involved in Renaissance faire re-enactors and making armor, decorations, and costumes for them as the skills they use are more in line with your desires. If you search on line for "making armor" "making helmets" you will encounter terms like raising and sinking metal and repousse http://users.ticnet.com/mikefirth/repousse.htm Many of these skills are discussed more in silversmithing books (or under whitesmithing) rather than machining metal.
edit
the Society for Creative Anachronism is people devoted to being really, really accurate about old details, including making stuff the old fashioned way. They do intense research and write papers on what they found - and set up web sites to talk about it.

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