Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Midnights Little Flower

Finally managed a to get a long overdue opportunity to get a new piece of work done and a blog entry!!
Just after finishing work on the potato harvest I managed to injure my back to the point of not being able to turn or do very much of anything at all, other than say "ouch" quite a lot!!
To cut a very long story short, a friend recommended a chiropractor, I went along albeit a little bit sceptical to be honest but after three sessions of massage and 'manipulation', I'm really pleased to say that I wouldn't even know that I had ever hurt it!!
Anyway, on to the important stuff! The only turning I have done since the
beginning of October has been basic stuff for customers, door/drawer knobs,
a few pens to sell around Christmas and a couple of small plain bowls. I can only say how pleased I am to have a bit of time for turning what I want to turn again!!
'Midnights Little Flower' is the fourth piece in my 'Dark' series of work, although perhaps not as darkly themed as some of the others it is, to me at least, still something of the night. I hope the title is pretty self explanatory of the design, I have used cold colours, especially silver and purple to give the piece a 'lit by moonlight' feel.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


Finally, as of 3pm today, the potatoes are done!!!! I arrived home to find a quick carving job for me to do for my kids......
I'm spending a long overdue day with my wife and children tomorrow and then finally Tuesday I'll be back to turning!!!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

'TATERS (or potatoes if you're not from round here...)

No time for turning this last week or two!!! Its the annual potato harvest and I help the farmer who lives just up the road from me every year. My job is mostly sorting out the 'seed' potatoes to be planted next spring and involves me picking out all the 'manky' ones and throwing them in a big box..... Its tough manual labour but it is kind of nice as its the only work I do where I am not in charge and therefore have no responsibility if anything (or indeed everything) goes wrong!! This last week has been early starts and late finishes but things should be a little less intense in the coming week, hopefully allowing me to get a few little turning jobs I have out of the way.
Anyway in the absence of anything creative to share, here is a picture of me being silly towards the end of the day and laying among some 'taters in the hopper that the trailers tip into.

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Eternal Prisoner

'The Eternal Prisoner' is a sculptural piece I have been working on lately, it was going to be the fourth piece in the 'Dark' series but evolved from its original idea through sketches and subsequent thoughts on what it is trying to say and has therefore moved away from the original plan.
The 'prisoner' is represented by a decorated sphere inside a 'spherical skeletal' cage, there is no way out of the cage, that is the ball does not fit through any of the holes, no escape! The prisoner ball is representative of new ideas, new ways
of thinking,of living, freedoms, desires, new technologies and explorations(both physical{space} and psychological). There are several simplistic, subtle shapes and designs in the decoration of the ball, from eyes(which the prisoner looks out of the cage from) to wings(freedom) All these being stifled by the constrains of the world(the cage) these being outdated tradition, religion, tribal mentalities, greed and the self imposed financial world(it doesn't really exist, we invented it!) that tells mankind 'We can't afford to go further'. Through all this the prisoner looks out, wishing they could be free.
The carved ring is there as a symbol of eternity, the silver colour added to it and the other parts are to emphasise this, silver being a precious metal that does not rust away.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Bowl and Spoon 2

This is the second bowl and spoon set I have made and I think I will be doing a few more. For me the matching spoons add something to a bowl,( no, not just literally) making it a much more ornamental/artistic piece, rather than a simple receptacle for fruit or keys!
The decorative band on these has 5 bars with a pyrographed brickwork design on the middle 3. The band has actually been dyed blue but the yellow of the timber (Acacia) makes it appear green.
The bowl is 12" wide with a gentle inward sloping rim and the spoon 11" in length and is turned from a single piece of wood on two axis. The design on the spoon is identical to that of the bowl but is slightly bigger as making it the same width would not have looked right.
I have a few ideas for future sets involving mounting the spoons but that is something to be thought about more before making them.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Fiddling with patterns.

As the title suggests this piece was about making patterns or more specifically, patterns using circles around a hollow form. Some interesting ones can easily be made simply by overlapping circles in various ways and then filling in parts of the overlapping pattern, be that with colour, texture, piercing etc. This particular pattern occurs 3 times around the form, if it is turned 60 degrees the pattern is different as shown in the second pic. The overall effect is what seems to be 2 different patterns both occurring 3 times around the form but each being made from the other. I hope this gives a nice visual appeal as the decoration can be seen in 2 different ways.
The dark areas are filled with random dots burned in with a pyrography unit, the edges of the burned in areas are made purposefully imperfect to compliment the well worn looking patina to the finish to give that well worn and old look that I seem to be producing lately.
The whole form was dyed royal blue after the pyrography and a silver gilt cream rubbed over sparingly to give the metallic patina. The finial is aluminium and timber used Acacia.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Teapot no.2 'Magic Teapot'

Well when I made the last teapot I said I wasn't going to get into making them and here I go making another one!
This one is a slight revision of the firsts design, I wasn't happy with the spout on the first or the position of the handle. On this one the spout and handle leave the body of the teapot at the same place as each other(only on different sides!), which I feel gives the piece more balance. I have gone for a 'fatter bellied' pot as well, the sort of shape that I hope wouldn't be out of place
on an old ladies tea table!
I'm much happier with the shape of this one and the angle of the 'contemporary' handle sits at, this handle even feels good and stable when you hold it as if to pour.
The decoration is based on the common this time of year Psilocybe Semilanceata mushroom, there is one sprouting up from the lid(hence the slight upward reach of the lid) and more in a ring design around the top.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Six months on....

Well here we are, six months on from starting this blog. I began my writings here on March 12th 2011, four days after the birth of my lovely little daughter Daisy and my first post was a picture of her and myself grabbing 40 winks on the sofa! So it seems right to post another picture of her now marking a milestone in my blogging and her life. She is pictured here this time with her big brother, my son Dylan (2). As I took the picture he spotted a spider crawling up the wall he's pointing and exclaiming "There's a big spider Daddy! Put it outside."
I can't express what these two mean to me, I just can't put into words the feelings I get when little Daisy smiles at me or Dylan comes and gives me a kiss on the cheek out of the blue and says "I love you Daddy." All I can say is life with my own little family is so much more than it ever was before in my youth, when I thought I was having the best time going.......
Anyway here we are, I've enjoyed this first six months of my blog and am pleased that it has, as of ten o'clock this morning received 2175 pageviews, and attracted 15 followers(something I wasn't expecting!). I hope it remains interesting for you all to read in the coming months and as enjoyable for me to write.
Thanks all,

Friday, 9 September 2011


This is the first teapot I've ever made, its not something I think I will get right into making but found the exercise in how to fit it all together interesting and indeed 'educational'.
I came up with the idea a while back after seeing many designs posted on various forums and yesterday I stumbled on the webpage for the AAW's Teapot Auction and was reminded of my design. This coupled with the fact that I fancied a change from turning the things I've been doing lately....
My idea for the design was for a 'traditional' shaped body for the teapot with a contemporary twist in the design of the lid and handle. The topper on the lid is to make a 'T'(the symbol for tea!) shape, the handle is simple but modern looking(I hope) being made of two 'peg' shapes. The 'old dirty metal' finish was achieved by colouring it with a base coat of black with silver gilt cream applied very sparingly using my finger! My finger is the only tool that seems to be able to create the uneven coat I want by way of a great deal of rubbing! The dimensions are 4" high and 7" long.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Bowl and Spoon

The continuing wet weather is keeping me from the day job but is allowing me to be productive in my turnings, so I can't grumble too much.
 I haven't made a bowl (to be just a bowl) for ages and this Acacia wood I have with its yellowish tones was just begging to be made into a bowl with a nice purple band. Yellow and purple are just such a great combination. The band has been pyrographed with random vertical lines and also had some metallic gold rubbed in unevenly to give an old, worn but luxurious look.
 The matching spoon I admit was an afterthought, I figured it adds another dimension to the piece, it is also the first spoon I've ever made and I did just wonder whether 'I could'! It is by no means perfect but I feel it does compliment the chunky 'rustic' feel of the bowl. Not that any of that matters now, my 2 year old son spotted the little spoon and loved it, "Daddy make spoon for my in shed?" he said. Well what could I do? He's never asked for a turning so sincerely, so I said "Just wait until Daddy has photographed it", he sat patiently beside me while I took the photos being as good as gold, when I had done the little lad ran off with his new possession. I guess I'll make another spoon for it.......

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Light Speed

Here is my latest offering, thanks to a rainy afternoon and my wife having her friend with a 2 year old daughter round for the kids to have a Sunday afternoon 'play date' as they seem to call it, I got a bit of time to myself in the shed :) and what's even better is they sent me out coffee and pink wafer biscuits as I worked!!
 This design has been around in sketch form for a while, since I was doing lots of pointy ended forms a few months back.
 The design is based on the idea of a particle travelling through space at the speed of light (maybe I've watched too many physics documentaries!!) The form being the particle itself, rounded at the front in the direction of travel and coming to a soft point at the other end. The base is to represent the space its flying through and the finial represents space/time being warped by the particle as it flies along at the cosmic speed limit. A better explanation might be that of the shock wave that can be seen infront of a plane about to break the sound barrier only in this case with space and time rather than air(OK my physics may be a bit shaky.....).
 The base is made from an offcut of Elm, ebonised and then 'metalised' by rubbing a tiny amount of gold paint over it which gives a nice,dirty bronze like appearance . The finial is also a small piece of surplus Elm that has been steamed for about half an hour and then set in shape before finishing. A few coats of satin lacquer provide the finish.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

First piece turned with the new batch of Acacia.

 I was quite keen to try out a piece of my newly acquired  Acacia to see how it was to turn. I managed to get out to the shed at a fairly reasonable hour and clutching my third cup of coffee of the day, selected a suitable piece of the timber. I went for the smallest of the blanks I had cut yesterday which was 6" wide and 4" thick and set about making a side grain hollow form. I'm loving the grain patterns you get in these side grain forms at the minute and am probably making far too many of them!
 I must admit that turning the Acacia is a delight, for such a dry timber (this is absolutely bone dry), it cuts like a dream and I was sending long shavings across the shed in streams :) A light touch on the outer finishing cuts with the gouge sharp leaves a fairly nice surface with ease. The hollowing was just as easy and the Keltons once again made really light work of the process, although with this particular shape  my laser guided captured bar hollowing rig hasn't the reach to get right into the corners and as a result I have to do what is the most awkward bit by hand with the hooked Kelton in a handle (they fit nicely into the big Munro handle). I must order some steel to make an articulated one which I'm sure would reach into the very corners of these with ease and with the simplicity of laser guidance.
 The hole is 7/8 of an inch wide with a flush fitted lid in Bocote and an aluminium finial. The finished piece measures just over 5 1/2 inches wide by 3 3/4 inches tall (without finial).

Wednesday, 31 August 2011


My dry timber stock is running very low and timber is getting more and more expensive. Yesterday I ventured down to the local timber yard in search of something to top up my stock without hurting my own less than full wallet too much!
I had a rummage through their 'dry timber shed' and discovered three, four inch thick chunks of Acacia, air dried and been there for years as the wood yard guy told me. I asked for a price and he said £15 each, I didn't say anything for a bit and let him try to find me other stuff before I said " £30 for all 3?" He agreed and I took them away.
I took them over to the new, unfinished workshop, which houses the 'big'(not that big) bandsaw to process them. I got a good few turning blanks from it, these are on the left of the picture. Ten bowl/side grain blanks, the biggest of which is twelve inches wide and the smallest six inches, seven end grain four inch square by six inch long blanks, three eighteen inch long two inch squared spindle blanks and a few small bits for pens(I hate making pens but people do like to buy them!) Not bad for £30.......
The right hand side of the picture is the last of my four inch thick Elm stash! I'm pretty gutted about this coming to an end as English Elm is hard to come by and this came from a big tree(which you don't see any more) with nice 'big tree' grain patterning. Just six, five inch side grain blanks and six four inch square by six inch end grain ones and thats it :(
I have also acquired a large piece of Ekki which is really dense and my piece is difficult to lift! I don't know how it will turn and may regret getting it..............
What I really want is a supply of three or four inch thick dry Sycamore but I can only seem to find two inch!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Elm and Aluminium Hollow Form

I haven't made it out to the lathe for a good few days, the day job, family, and a fine test match performance by the England cricket team have kept me away!! Lukily(for my turning) today has been a very wet Tuesday in Norfolk and I found myself with an afternoon of no distractions in the shed, just me, a coffee, loud music and shavings!
I started out to make a small Elm hollow form which I wanted to carve and embellish to fit with my current series, but my plans for this were scuppered by finding an internal(to the blank) knot with holes and cracks........ Time for plan B!
I have been collecting up some of the shavings from the aluminium I have been using in recent work to use for something such as this. I turned the shape for the form and filled the holes with the aluminium shavings, packing them in as tightly as possible and soaking them with superglue. A quick sand with some 80 grit paper makes light work of bringing the surface of the aluminium into line with the rest of the form. After hollowing and sanding to a final finish, several coats of oil have been applied, allowed to soak in and buffed to bring the Elm up nice and dark and bring out those rich colours in the grain. A small amount of silver gilt cream has been rubbed into the surface to give a hint of silver in the open grain and a flush fit lid with an aluminium finial to tie in with the filler job and gilt cream. The form is 5" wide and was hollowed with the Keltons, which I am still massively impressed with!
I'm hoping to get some more turning time tomorrow, I have another piece in the 'dark' series under way and a few more ideas of things I want to try out!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


Here is the third piece in my 'dark' series. This one is a part turned, part carved sculptural piece. As the title suggests its based on a claw, more to the point, this would be the claw of a nightmarish creature whose grip could not be escaped!
The shape is more or less based on half of a crabs pincer but with the long hooked slightly beyond round 'over-reach' of a velociraptor's claw. It also has three sharp aluminium spikes/spines along the back of the claw, I hope these make it look much more of a fearsome weapon!
The claw itself is made from Mahogany, this is for two reasons, the first is that I had some mahogany board laying around and am no great fan of it as a timber for turning! The second and most important reason is the open grain structure of Mahogany, this gives a nice visual texture to the otherwise smooth claw through the ebonising lacquer. Again a square white plinth seemed the right mount for the piece to sit on, it was never an intention to have the whole series sitting on these but now the first three pieces have them it may well be a recurring theme on further work of this series.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Kelton Hollowers

After a six week wait my set of 5/8" shaft Kelton hollowers arrived(I had to wait for some to come into the country). With the hectic way my life is currently it has taken me another week to try them out!!
Wow, these things are fantastic, my captured bar hollowing rig loves them! I'm easily halving the time it takes to hollow a vessel with these as they cut away the excess wood so quickly and effortlessly and leave a decent finish from light finishing passes. All this is easily done through a hole of less than an inch across. They are easily the least 'fancy' looking hollowing tools I have tried and by far my favourite to date!
The piece pictured to the right of this text was the first thing I have hollowed with them, a fairly basic shape
made from a piece of fairly rotten Elm(well half rotten, the lighter half in the pic!). I was so impressed with the hollowers I put another 'better' piece of Elm on the lathe to make a wider, flatter form to test how the Keltons could reach far into awkward corners. Using my captured bar rig I could only reach within half an inch of the desired thickness right at the shoulder, so I put the most curved hollower in a tool handle from one of those expensive hollowing tools and could easily reach all the way. The best bit about this was that they work as a handled tool just as easily as they do in the rig.
This second form was turned side grain as the Elm has such a wonderful stripe to it in this orientation. The lid is a piece of ebonised Beech and the finial is turned from 6mm diameter aluminium bar.
The bottom line here is I wish I had the Keltons right from the start, I have four other specialist hollowing tools, two of which were pretty expensive and in my very humble opinion they don't hold a candle to these beauties.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Dark Of Heart

Dark of heart is the second piece in what I'm planning to do as a series based on the ideas in the post below.
This one is a bit darker in thought, it is representative of the darkness that lives within a corner of all our hearts, the monster within, anger, hatred, etc.
The 'monster' has a large mouth filled with spike teeth to bite into its victim, its body is covered with backward pointing spikes so
that once its bit in to its victim its not coming out!! A nasty piece of work indeed! We try to not listen to it, pretend its not there and keep it down inside but its always lurking deep inside.....
The form itself is ebonised Elm, I used Elm as I wanted to have the open grain as texture on the monsters 'skin', it has 32 individual aluminium spikes, 22 on the outside and 10 inside as teeth.
Its a bit more sculptural than much of my usual fare but was a lot of fun to think up, design and produce.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Monochromatic Dreams

This represents one of those sudden changes in direction in my work that come rushing into my mind now and then, maybe I've been working with Elm and soft natural looking curves for a bit too long recently and my creative subconscious has given me a kick up the backside with thoughts of angular shapes,shiny metal, black, white, a more contemporary/futuristic style and a sculptural feel......
The idea of adding metals to my
work has been fed by the 'Brass Finial' series and the thoughts of high contrast satin black with shiny silver in a darker, spiky, almost industrial way seem very appealing at the moment.
This first piece based on these ideas was formed entirely in my mind and not on paper, hence the title 'Monochromatic Dreams'.
The 'bowl' section is ebonised Beech, there are nine polished aluminium spikes and it sits on a square of Mahogany coloured with white acrylic paint.

Last in the Brass Finial Series.

This is the last piece in the current 'Brass Finial' series. For this piece I decided to explore a different angle of presentation. It ties in with previous footless/pointy end pieces I have made but they have all rested either in a cradled way such as the 'pod' in this blogs banner or been held in position with a hidden weight inside and no stand/base whatsoever. I tried out a few different shaped bases but settled on a flattened cube shape,I cut this from a cracked and holed piece of Oak to give the base a solid but rustic look, this is to tie in with the slightly rotten Elm the form itself is made from. I hope the base gives a 'bold' look to the whole piece.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

3rd in a series.

This is the third Elm form with a brass finial in what is turning out to be a 'series' of pieces along those same lines.
I would like to think that this one represents a refinement of the design of the previous two and will try to give an explanation of the thoughts behind the design of the piece .
I have made this piece slightly more curved in form and must admit to being very happy with the overall shape of it. The finial is slightly simpler than the previous ones as on reflection I felt it being made of something as bright as the brass it would be better being simple and elegant rather than having too many shapes in the design. The 'lid' has also
been produced to be a flush fit rather than a lid that appears to sit on the form, this once again I hope simplifies the appearance of the form and gives more elegance and flow to it. A textured band around the top adds a bit of contrast and the gold accents on it tie in with the brass finial. The finial itself has been turned,sanded,finished to a shine with wire wool and finally treated with two coats of satin lacquer to give the 'brushed' appearance seen in the close up opposite.
The piece also features a bit of an experiment to make the grain stand out more but I need to try it out a few more times before revealing what it is.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


I've not had much turning time in the last couple of weeks and when I have managed to get a bit of time I've been messing up! I don't know why this happens but every now and then I have a week or so where everything I touch turns to...... well you know, the brown stuff! Luckily it always passes(no pun intended) and I can feel things starting to go right again! I often wonder if others get these little phases?
Anyway, after destroying a piece that had taken a lot of time on and off yesterday I decided to
make something simpler or at least more straight forward so produced a couple of lidded forms.
The first one (top right) is 6" tall
with a 3" brass finial, the brass was 'different' to turn, I have made bullet shaped legs for bowls in the past but this was the first proper turning I have done with it. You know when you get the cut right as you make really long curly shavings of brass, most satisfying! The lid is made from a small piece of Bocote I have left over from the knobs a few posts down.
For the second one I decided a black form would look great with the gorgeous Bocote and shiny brass finial. This form is a bit smaller at 4" with a 1 3/4 " finial. Mostly I'm just pleased to be making things that are coming out as intended again!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Flower Box

This was made for a competition on a UK woodturning forum, its a bit experimental and probably won't do well in the competition..... It has however been a fun experiment with form, colour and most importantly using one shape going through another. The design as the title suggests is based loosely on that of a flower in bloom, with the box part being the centre and 'seed part' at the back and the skeleton collar being the petals or should I really say representative of petals.The central box part is a small piece of
Elm which had been saved as a spindle blank but was just wide enough to be utilised for this
project. The 'petal' part is a small 4" offcut of Beech, it has been coloured with acrylics and spirit stains.
That just leaves the inside of the box which has been textured and coloured to give the appearance of hammered bronze, the rough texture is also like the inside of the seed head husk of a flower with dimples where the seeds were.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Bocote Knobs.

I had an order from a client for 40 knobs in Rosewood, I bought the Rosewood blanks and made the first dozen a couple of weeks or so ago. When they were picked up I found out they were Bocote! I must admit to having little knowledge of exotic timbers, I knew they didn't look like the only other piece of Rosewood I have turned but figured there must be natural variation in the appearance......
Thankfully my client really liked them and they were still in keeping with what he needed!
The picture shows the other 28 knobs for the order, they do not have any finish applied by me as this is done by my client later.
Its good to get into production mode now and again, the different approach and mindset needed for repetitive turning and each individual item produced in minutes not hours!

I have just learned from a chance post somebody made on a forum that Bocote is also known as Mexican Rosewood!

Ordered me some new toys!

The current set up on my captured bar hollowing rig comprises of a Munro 5/8" shaft with a modified Sorby cutter and holder from an RS200KT, this doesn't work too badly but does lead to a bit of vibration through the length of the cutter tip and also means the tip sticks out from the left hand side of the tool shaft which makes getting right into the centre of the bottom of a vessel a challenge even with the tip dead straight. After a chat with a good friend mine, an accomplished turner on what is best, I decided to treat myself to a set of kelton hollowers for the rig! This medium set has a 5/8 shaft so will go straight in the captured bar handle without any modification.

Now I just have to wait for them to be delivered................

Monday, 13 June 2011

A 'Proper Job!' WIP

I was fortunate enough to be offered this old lump of Oak, filled with rot, deep cracks and some burr. Now I'm pretty sure looking at the condition of it most turners would have said "No thanks", but for me it looked perfect and was soon brought home. I have a 'thing' for really old Oak and its almost a case of the rougher looking the better! The stuff gets really hard almost rock like with time but develops so much character and a gorgeous colour that always brings me back for more! A piece was soon chopped off with the chainsaw and mounted on the lathe for roughing into a balance, very slowly at first as old cracked pieces of timber are not the most predictable and
I have been caught out before with bowl blanks coming apart at speed and do not wish to repeat the experience ,this thought being especially brought
home by the sad events in the woodturning world of late.
After getting the rather
irregular shape into some kind of balance,the speed was increased a bit and the outside of
the bowl was turned leaving a small spigot for
mounting on the chuck. Note that I have kept some of those deep grooves that lead into cracks, these are to be a feature and help bring home the feeling of great age I want for this piece.

At this point the two lines were cut and burned in with an old guitar string wire burner and the pattern pyrographed in around the band. To keep with the old rustic appearance the pyrography was made imperfect, the spacing between the 's' shaped elements is exact(I think that's important) but the forming of the 's' themselves was done by eye with no alignment lines drawn around first. A very generous amount of masking tape was then wrapped around to hold it together for hollowing the inside of the bowl out.
Even with all the tape tightly wrapped around, during hollowing there were a few cracking noises, the walls of it moved around and vibrated terribly and I began to think it wasn't going to
make it! However after some gentle and nervous hollowing I ended up at the stage pictured opposite. The vibrations and movements left me with various grooves inside the bowl that just could not be turned away(you can make them out in the picture) So the only option was to find up the sixty grit abrasive and smooth
out the inside the hard way!
Most of the tape had by now been split by the force of the moving cracks, so it was all removed
and a new 'patch' of tape put over the cracks to keep it all together while it was reversed for the mounting spigot to be turned away. It was then signed on the base and a satin finish applied over it inside and out.
All that was needed now was to 'repair' the two major cracks. This is where the title 'Proper Job'
comes in, I knew I wanted to use crude staples to bridge the cracks but needed to source some that were in keeping with the styling of the bowl. It turns out that staples are all galvanised, which was not going to give the look of great age and rusticity, it needed rusty ones!
I set off driving around the local back roads in search of old gateposts that may have some really old staples in, I found some embedded in some posts left in by an old railway line which has been turned into a public footpath, the wires they once supported long gone. I prised a few out and got some whole ones, although most were so corroded they just snapped upon me trying! I'm really pleased with the finished piece as it has turned out just how it envisioned in the minds eye.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Successful day.

Today was the craft fair in the little village of Edingthorpe. I must say I wasn't expecting too much from the day, it being a small 'out of the way' village.
We arrived at the church which was acting as the 'hub' for the villages event (open gardens,craft fair, local food) and found the lady in charge, "Ah, the woodturner, I have kept you a nice spot inside the church" she said and led us inside to an area between the front pew and 14th century Rood Screen, which has some really good paintings of some of the Apostles on, some worthwhile information on this can be seen here. As we set up the lady in charge returned with cups of coffee and chocolate biscuits for us, she also said we would get a free lunch of the locally produced food that they were selling outside! This was an unexpected and really kind gesture by the organisers and set the day off on a happy note.
I had taken a 6' table with one low shelf at the back and black cloth to cover it all over. We made up the display with a selection of 'craft fair' produced pieces, some of my artistic pieces, which I knew likely wouldn't sell at this type of event but I wanted to show what I do, I also photocopied the cover and page featuring my piece from a copy of American Woodturner and made it into an upright display.
The first hour and a half I had a few conversations with interested people and it was nice that my art rather than the functional items was drawing the attention, a few people wanted my website address but nobody bought anything, I began to think that we were in for a repeat of the last(and only other) craft fair we took part in, where we had a lot of interest and barely any sales.
Then we got brought our 'free lunch'(who says there is no such thing!) and while trying to eat it, it happened, more people were showing up and things started to sell! I'm not saying it was a mad rush but we continued a steady pace of sales right up to 5 o'clock when the event finished, with two very nice older ladies who bought a clock and two pens right as we were about to pack up.
All in all it was a very pleasant and successful experience, we met some nice people who showed a genuine interest, picked up a commission, ate some nice food and made a decent amount of money to feed the bank account! I shall be taking part in this little village event next year too!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Little Bowls

With the craft fair just a couple of days away, I find myself making several small items that can be turned, decorated and finished very quickly. These small bowls are all turned from what were offcuts from other projects. I took all my odd shaped, offcut and generally random pieces of wood that take up valuable workshop space and cut them into whatever sized blanks I could. It was surprising to see how many useful small bowl and spindle blanks you can get from odd pieces you may on another day call firewood and dispose of! The combination of fast production and small pieces of 'offcut' timber mean that these fun little bowls can be sold very cheaply, I know a lot of woodturners don't like to sell things for too little but I feel 'why not' in this sort of situation, after all, I had a fun couple of hours making these, the materials are minimal and its for a community event.I have also made some fun spinning mushrooms again from scraps of wood and really quick to produce which can also be sold very cheaply. I must find time to make some pens up before the fair too, something I don't really enjoy but people always seem to want to buy!
These smaller and cheaper items will be sold next to my more usual work which will be on sale for more usual prices but hopefully I will have something on my 'stall' to interest different sorts of people.

Website improvements

Well the new website only went up two weeks or so ago but my good friend Tim James who put it together for me wasn't happy with it. The gallery wasn't quite right and there were issues with the quality of reproduction of the images when enlarged, there were also a few more minor niggles with it that I won't go into now!
Anyway here we are two weeks later and a second new website has been uploaded to replace the first! Once again I need to thank Tim for spending his time helping me with this(I say 'helping', I mean 'doing' it for me!!!). The whole thing is a big step forward with amongst other things, an improved gallery, a picture of me(!!) and the one bit I have done......getting my webcam up and running again!
Please do take a look at the website and let me know what you think, both Tim and myself would like to get some feedback on our endeavours!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Small Forms

With the craft fair fast approaching I have been trying to produce some affordable but attractive items for my stall. The easiest way to do this is to make some smaller items which greatly reduces the amount of timber used and time taken. Its also a great way to try out a few ideas quickly which can be built upon later or not depending on how I feel about the end results. The small vessel opposite is just a little under three inches tall and about the same wide. The lines around it are cut and then burned in, they are slightly wider around the widest part of the vessel and narrower at the thinner base. It is my hope that this effect gives a natural appearance to the bands in the way they relate to the shape, accentuating the curve to the small base.
The second small form on the left here I am not so sure about, its a little bigger than the first and a fuller shape. The thing I don't like about it is the way the close together banding makes the base appear much wider than it is in 'real life' . I include it here as I found it fascinating how such a subtle thing as a close banded texture can change the way the whole form of a piece can look.

Monday, 30 May 2011

New Style Band Decoration

I'm currently producing things suitable for the craft fair we will be taking part in on the eleventh of June in the quaint little village of Edingthorpe in Norfolk. It will be held at the beautiful and fascinating thousand(ish) year old village church in conjunction with the 'Edingthorpe open gardens' event.
I have some gorgeous pieces of English Elm and I am making a couple of 'usable' bowls from it to sell. Me being me I couldn't leave them quite plain! The band on this one is a new style for me.
Flat top beads. burned with a wire burner between the bands, dyed and finally a tiny amount of silver gilt cream which just changes the appearance of the band in a really subtle but pleasing way.
I really like the look of the band and I think I will make an opposite version, that is, the flat beads over the entire outside of the bowl with a natural band around it where the band is on this one. That however is another project for another day!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

A Proud Moment

I was extremely happy to discover that my sculpture from last June entitled 'Entrance To The Other World' was published in the AAW's April 2011 edition of 'American Woodturner' journal. It was really nice (and almost shocking) to see it published along side works of other respected woodturners.
I think this is my proudest woodturning moment to date, right up there with that magical moment of producing my very first bowl on the first day of owning a lathe!
I do not get the magazine normally but thanks to the editor (and fantastic wood artist) Betty Scarpino, I am currently waiting for my copy to arrive from the US courtesy of the AAW. I hope to frame it and put it on the wall (wife allowing!) as it is the first piece of work I have had printed in any publication.