Friday, 22 November 2013

New Workshop Progress!

The new workshop is starting to take shape with progress being made with the blockwork despite the November weather trying to stop us! I'm making a timelapse video of the build and this is it thus far!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Been Busy.....

  I haven't blogged for a while or indeed done any woodturning! Since the second of September I have been working on renovating our new home as quickly as humanly possible. We had thought it would take until somewhere around Christmas time to complete the work to the inside of the house but somehow by working really hard seven days a week, more often or not into the evenings and the help of our family we have not only finished but also moved in!!
 The downside of all of this is that my former 12' x 8' workshop has moved with us but become nothing more than a storage shed for all of my tools and timber as I have had to fit the contents of three sheds into it!!! Rather than buy another, larger timber workshop I decided that building a more permanent structure was a better route to take even though it will take time to build. Now I know nothing about building so I am relying on the expertise of my Father in law who is very kindly helping me with it.
 The new workshop will be 26.5' x 12' as this gives a footprint of the thirty square meters that is the maximum size of outbuilding that can be built before the cost and hassle of 'Building Regulations' comes into play. I hope to get the whole thing constructed in the next month and get back to doing what I enjoy doing the most, turning and making!!
 This morning with the help of my Father in law, Brother and Nephew I have the foundations filled with three square meters of concrete which we had to barrow across the garden from the back of a cement mixer lorry and I now feel that I have a proper start made to my new workshop!!! :)

A start.

Saturday, 31 August 2013


Here is something a little different and a bit bolder and/brighter than what I have been doing of late!
 I treated myself to some quality airbrush paints, I got some water based ones called 'Wicked Colors' as I had seen them being used in a few youtube videos and the colours looked to be as vibrant as solvent based colours but with less toxicity and easy clean up!
 I've got to say I'm very impressed with them, both in how they colour and the way they spray. All this despite the limitations of my cheap 'ebay' airbrush (may have to treat myself to a quality one......).
 As the title suggests(I hope) the design is based on a nebula or more specifically the star forming region of a large nebula where the gases coalesce to create new stars.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Blue Bottle

I'm still playing around with this teardrop shaped vessel and finial combination. This piece like the others is made from Sycamore and is five and a half inches tall.
 Rather than carve, blast or texture the vessel, with this piece I decided to use a decorative colouring technique I have been experimenting with to create this stone/marble look.
 The colours are plain old artists acrylics and the finish is a lacquer that doesn't dry too flat and shiny which makes the piece feel nice in the hand and not 'plasticy as some high gloss lacquers tend to. 

Friday, 2 August 2013

Horse Chestnut Burr.

This little hollow form is the first piece from some Horse Chestnut that I was kindly given around eighteen months ago. The tree had blown down in a garden just up the road from me and the nice man who owned it called Paul came and asked if I would like some. I had a six foot trunk section that Paul kindly helped me slab up with my Alaskan mill which has a lot of nice burr in and several smaller burrs from other parts of the tree. This is from one of the smaller burrs that has dried out nicely in my wood store. As Paul would not take anything for the timber I am going to give him this little form as a thank you. It is just under five inches tall.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Dark Urn

 Here is another piece based on a teardrop. These seem to be becoming a series. This one is five and a half inches tall, it has been shotblasted to give an uneven surface on the panels and then textured over the top of that. I have also created a texture to look like cast metal on the outer 'cage' part of the main vessel.
 I have made another timelapse video of the turning part of this so that you can see how I go about it (at high speed). As ever the colouring is done with acrylics.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Red Urn

  Hello dear readers. I haven't had a chance to turn anything since April!! That is far too long to be away from what is my passion and far too long since writing anything here! I can only apologise for my absence but sometimes life jumps up and gets in the way of what I would like to be doing....
 Today I got to blow the dust off from the lathe and get down to what |I love doing, turning. I made this little urn from Sycamore, its about seven inches tall with the lid. It has been turned, hollowed,sand blasted and coloured with acrylics.

 I will try to be quicker with my next post.... :)

Here is a timelapse video of me turning it.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Dark Energy.

 I was reading about the possible discovery of what 'dark matter' actually is the other day and this got me thinking, as these things do....
 The other great mystery of the universe is 'dark energy' that makes up about seventy percent of the Universe causing the ever accelerating expansion of everthing and nobody has a clue as to what it is.
  This mystery energy is what inspired the design of this hollow form, I have it streaming forth from another dimension (Ok the opening!) and permeating the Universe in a great flow. It is funny where inspiration comes from sometimes but the Universe and as a consequence, the true reality of everything is something that is often in my mind.
 The form is from the same Sycamore stash I have been working through for the last week or two. It has three carved feet to keep it stable and a carved curved tail. It has been textured and then coloured with acrylics and the high points picked out with silver.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

An Unquiet Mind

 Another Sycamore hollow form with carved feet! I just love making these little forms and decorating them. This one is four and a half inches tall and has been both decorated with pyrography and textured with a rotary tool.
 The title relates to the piece by way of the 'streams' of thought eminating from within and being generally random or chaotic,sometimes looping, sometimes joining and sometimes diverging, yet they still fill the piece making a 'complete' pattern that seems to be a single entity.... This is the way I see the human mind, well mine anyway, lol!

Friday, 29 March 2013


Not much to say about this, its just a variation on a theme from the last piece. Sycamore, four and a half inches tall with an untextured 'wiggle' band,

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sycamore Form With Carved Feet

I cut up a four inch thick slab of my home milled Sycamore, it wasn't the longest piece I had but it made enough blanks to make my next twelve hollow forms from. It's great to finally have my own timber dry and ready to use, now I'm just waiting on my Walnut slabs to dry.....
 This one is four inches tall with carved feet, I have used the same texture pattern I used on a bowl a few posts back. I left the feet untextured to match in with the band and keep them obvious!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Cracked Yew Hollow Form

 I don't know why I keep messing around with this Yew log, it cracks and moves and is generally a pain in the proverbial!! Maybe its because Yew just seems like it should be treated with respect, there is just something special about this slow growing, long lived timber that just seems to make me persevere with it even though I probably shouldn't bother!
 This little form is about the same in width as it is in height,that is about four and a half inches.  The section of log it came from had, or so it seemed at the time, no cracks in it whatsoever, just for a moment I wondered if it would stay that way(it has been dried for a decade!). Of course as soon as I started working it, or more to the point hollowing it, the cracks started to appear! At this point I could have easily tossed it into the shavings, muttered something obscene and done something more constructive with my time! However I wanted to carve some feet on a short fat form to see how it looked and decided to continue, after all if it looked bad it wouldn't matter too much and could be consigned to the unsuccessful prototype collection(the fire bin....) .
 I completed the form and collar and was very happy with what the little legs did for the look of it, I had of course seen many examples of cracks 'stitched together with leather and thought that would look good on this and 'save' it. I must admit that I just whacked the holes through with the drill and haven't tidied up the edges of the holes but I think it adds to its rustic charm! LOL. It was a lot of 'fun' cough, cough. to thread and tie it through the opening of the vessel but I got there in the end. It has moved enough just to raise the edge of the collar a bit but apart from that I think its kind of 'cute'.....

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Yew and Ebony Bottle

 As I tend to do, I put the bottle form I made yesterday on the little sideboard that is under our TV so that I could look at it and more importantly think about it. I think it helps a great deal to do this, that is to be self critical, by doing so you can see where you could improve a design and through that  hopefully develop and  'grow' a little more as a woodturner.
 In this case I felt strongly enough about the design `changes I would make that I had to go and make another more refined version today. This one sits with me a little better than the other but they will both be standing side by side for a day or two on the sideboard so I can study them!!
 The changes are to the overall shape of the form,the  proportions of the parts and timber choice(for the stopper). Although this is roughly the same height as the first (its about 1/2 an inch higher) the bottle is an inch shorter and the stopper an inch higher which I think balances better. The shape is a little more rounded towards the bottom to give a more elegant 'drop' like form. The bands are also a little lower down but keep the same proportions relative to each other(the distance between the middle and top ones is about half that of bottom to middle. I have also used a piece of Ebony in place of the Oak for the stopper.
 I'm much happier with this one........

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Yew Bottle

 I was given a piece of Yew last weekend and was asked to make something from it for the guy that had given it to me. It wasn't very wide, infact it was a five inch wide branch,felled a decade ago, bone dry but full of cracks. To be honest its not a piece of timber I would have bothered with if it wasn't 'given' to me but I said I would make him something and so did.
 I decided to make him a 'bottle form' from it, and I must say despite the cracks it is quite an attractive piece of timber. I have hollowed it down to a thickness of around half an inch as there are many cracks and I didn't think it would take being any thinner without exploding on the lathe. The stopper is made from Oak, a small piece that was laying on the bench left over from another job. It is fifteen inches tall and finished by sanding with boiled linseed on the paper to try and fill the cracks and a hand buffed wax over that.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Round Bottom Bowls

 The two little Sycamore Bowls pictured below are the first pieces turned from a tree I cut into slabs about eighteen months ago. These were from a three inch thick slab and I was happy to find it was bone dry.
 They are both about four inches wide and around two and a half inches in height. The textured pattern is done by eye to give it a random look and they have a simple oil finish. The small slate base has also been textured to match the 'lined' pattern on the bowls.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Tear Drop Bottle

Here's something a bit different to my usual stuff, its obviously born from the shapes I was playing with in the 'Windblown Trio' posted below, I often find that a new idea is had while working on the previous one.
 This piece is made from Oak, that has been sand blast textured and coloured with acrylics. I have created a dull silver patina on the parts I wished to appear as metal. The 'metal' cage around the bottle frames the four 'eyes' that you get with endgrain Oak, two made by the grain and the other two at ninety degrees to them created by the rays.
 I have made the tear drop stopper what may in some peoples opinion be over size but I wanted this as it makes the whole piece appear 'bolder' than a smaller one would. I can imagine a bottle like this in the ancient world holding some precious oil or potion.
 I am really enjoying playing with the textures and effects that shot blasting can achieve.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Simple Bowl.

Sometimes I just need to turn something like this, a simple pleasing form, from nice timber with a good finish. I get a great deal of pleasure from things like this when I am in the mood and it is nice to remind myself that I can make these!
 Its just five inches wide by three inches tall and made from one of my last few pieces of English Elm from a large tree, the likes of which have all long since died from 'Dutch Elm Disease'.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Wind Blown Trio

Sandblasted Douglas Fir
 Here is the completed trio of heavily sandblasted hollow forms made from Douglas Fir. They are presented on an Elm base that has been smoothed and gently blasted to give the appearance of driftwood.

Thursday, 31 January 2013


Sandblasted Hollow Form
Here is the first of an intended trio of heavily sandblasted Douglas Fir hollow forms with the soft grain completely removed around the top area, which  hopefully gives the impression of being eroded away by wind and sand.
 Its just four inches tall and turned in a tear drop shape to around 3mm thickness down the sides with the bottom left about 12mm to keep it standing. Although the bottom is thicker you cannot tell it is visually by way of careful hollowing to keep a matching gentle curve to the inside.
 As said I plan on completing a trio of these and will mount them on a base. Watch this space!!


 Just a quick post to say I have created a facebook page to get my work seen by more people, there will always be a more detailed account of pieces and what I'm doing here on my blog but the facebook one is there if anyone is interested. . By liking that page you will get any new pieces I put up there shown in your 'news feed'.  

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Another Sign.

Sandblasted Sign

 This one is going off to grace a customers house!! Its made from Western Red cedar, which apparently will last a ,long time outside as it has its own naturally occurring preservatives inside. I couldn't source any of this timber locally so had to buy it in from the internet in a great enough quantity  to make the shipping costs less painful, so lets just say I hope I get some orders for these......

Monday, 21 January 2013

Completed Trio

Sandblasted Pine Hollow Forms
 Here is the completed trio of 'Colour Series' hollow forms, the purple one in the front being the one from yesterdays post. I think I will take a break from turning pine for a bit and turn some 'proper' wood next! LOL.
 They are from front to back 6", 5" and 4" tall.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Three Looks For One Form.

Pine Lidded Form
Sandblasted Pine Lidded Form

   I occasionally get comments on my work from people on various forums 'disapproving' of added textures and colours. I of course respect the fact that for them wood should look like well..wood!
  For me these decorative processes are what appeal to my creative side, don't get me wrong, I too love the look of natural wood and wouldn't dream of adding colours and textures all over a piece of beautifully figured timber (well maybe just a slight accent
 However, I usually work with quite bland timbers that I can have more control over the final appearance of.
 The whole process of taking what is essentially a 'lump' of wood turning it to a pleasing form and altering it to fit my own vision is what feeds my creative needs. I very much enjoy the transformation at the various stages in producing my work.
  What for me is the first stage in producing a piece, that is the turned form (pic above) is for many others the finished object and that is great. I cannot disagree that a simple pleasing to the eye, well finished form is a 'winner' every time and perhaps quite rightly a majority of turners feel this way.
 Others myself included can't help but think 'what if' and run with our imaginations, changing the appearance and therefore hopefully the 'feel' of the woodturned items we make.
Sandblasted Coloured Lidded Pine Form
 The highly decorated pieces may not appear at first glance just like wood but believe me those that make them love wood and working with it just as much as anybody else. Its a big world out there with enough room for all tastes. Just my thoughts on this subject :).....
 Anyway I hope you enjoy the pictures of the stages from simple form, to textured form to finished piece. This one by the way is the first of another set of three of the pine forms that are part of my 'Colour Series'.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Wooden Signs.

 I'm starting to produce some wooden signs as I already have all the equipment needed and I think they look cool. Hopefully others will  and I can start to sell these......
Sandblasted Sign

 This one was an experiment to see if I could do them, 'The Sty' is the name my inlaws call their conservatory   as they often lay about in there on a summers day, I will give them this as a gift to put up on it. The letters and border stand proud of the background giving a nice 3D quality.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Colour Series Erosion Group

Sandblasted Pine  Hollow Forms
Well this morning the colour scheme on the last post just didn't look right to me when viewed with fresh eyes in natural daylight...... The white had to go. A quick re colour later and I was much happier with the result.
 As I had a whole day clear I decided to press on and get the other two of the trio done, the picture here is the result. The centre one is the original from yesterday recoloured and finished.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Colour Series 'Erosion'

'Erosion' Form
Here is the first piece that will be an offshoot of my 'Colour Series' pieces a  'Mini-Series' if you like...... I was going to wait to post these until I had a set of three but I liked the eroded effect so much I just wanted to share it!!
 Believe it or not this is a piece of pine, its a bit weird to turn as you can feel the hard-soft-hard nature of the grain through the gouge but it sure smells nice! I've heard it said that it is impossible to get a good finish on pine but I must say with a sharp tool and gentle finishing cuts it doesn't turn out too badly at all.
 Why on earth are you using pine?? I hear you say, well the soft and hard grain makes it a good choice for the sandblaster, as the soft part is easily removed by the blast media to give the deeply eroded look.
  I did have to have a little rummage through the local wood yards shed of dry stuff to find a bit with a decent close grain pattern and not too many knots close to each other so that I could cut my lengths for forms out between the worst ones.
 As its one of my 'Colour Series' I have used the same basic rules I use for colouring those, that being a colour in the grooves, a second colour(well its always black or white) on the higher parts over that and finally a metallic accent.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

'Old' Pod

Sandblasted Yew Hollow Form
This one has been a long time in the making, at least a year. I had turned the form originally when I was doing lots of 'pointy ended' forms and just hadn't found the right base to mount it on. It sat on the shelf waiting to be finished, when I came across this piece of bogwood, it was soaked through (had been in an aquarium) and has taken several months to dry out.
 The form has warped a bit, which can be seen in the pic but this doesn't hurt as it's in keeping with the natural 'pod' appearance, I have also added to the natural look by adding a few carved lines mainly near the top and base and giving the whole thing a good going over in the sand blast cabinet to give a nice wrinkled look.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

New Year New Beginnings

 Firstly I'd like to wish those reading this blog a very happy 2013. We (my family and myself) had a pretty good 2012 and a really nice Christmas, the children are at that age where it is all so magical (Dylan is 3 and Daisy is nearly 2).

 Also with the final sorting out of a medical condition over the next couple of months that has kept me feeling tired and dopey for several years,the sorting out of which is causing a lovely dizzy sensation,(ah, the joys of uneeded medication from a wrong diagnosis!!...), I'm personally hoping to get more motivation and 'raise my creative game' a bit!!!!
 I am very much hoping and certainly going to try to make more money from turning and general wood  based item production this year and in the future as this is what I love doing so much. This will involve making more non-art things but I will still make sure to make (plenty of) time to pursue my artistic path.

 Anyway, enough of that, you come here to see my work not listen to my whining!! LOL

Sand blasted Oak
Here's the first hollow form of the year, well not strictly, it was turned last year but has been decorated/finished this week and that is the important bit for me!
 Luckily for me Father Christmas brought me a shot blast cabinet (I was clearly a good boy last year!!). I've wanted one pretty much since starting turning as I love the textures created by them on wood as it mimics the way wood on the beach goes and I've loved that look since being a small child.
 This is the first piece textured with it and I'm very happy with the result. The star design is all part of the timber(not stuck on) and has just been dyed black to highlight the open grain so that it continues through from the 'eroded' grain pattern and a dark yellow over that to help the stars 'stand out' without being too brightly coloured.
 I have more ideas along these lines to produce so watch this space........:)