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.