Sunday, December 11, 2011

tempus fugit - slowly

Back in September, I posted about the kitchen floor we had laid.

Its now three months on and considering that it has been an hours work here or there, progress has been made. What with having to stop every half hour because of the pain and visits to hospital, its a wonder anything has been done at all. Things are about to stop for a while though as its more full time hospital for three weeks followed by another five of physiotherapy. Oh goody!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Non-yew / someone was listening

Wow a non-yew delivery. Some huge bits of ash courtesy of the chainsaw of John Mitchell. Mind you, he has a VB36 that will take the big stuff. My poor little lathe is going to require the wood slimmed down a little.

Not much happening lathe wise though due to 'health problems'

Can't wait to get back into the swing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yew can have too much of a good thing

Yet another yew tree donation. I love this wood and it is rightly sought after but I now have more than I can use in this lifetime and possibly another. Why don't people cut down boring trees? As I'm moving more towards piercing, texturing and carving, I need some plain wood so that colouring can come into the equation too.

Swapsies anyone?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My cup runneth over

If I was chuffed before, this equals it. My little egg just made the cover on the World of Woodturning site. Overwhelmed!

I was nervous about posting anything there as the quality is so high - never expected this - another drink in the offing I think.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Very moving

A good example of why its best to rough turn and then put away for six months. This bowl was really an experiment in piercing but it is still astonishing how much a piece of wood that I know has been stored for at least 20 years can move once the stresses have been relieved.

First pic is July. I have just let some copper wire in to strengthen the edge which had split.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More than a bit chuffed

Just heard that my entry into the UK Woodwork forum monthly turning competition has just come first. I expected to get a point per month for entering. To actually win anything is astonishing. Had a drink or two tonight.

My award just arrived, I continue to be chuffed.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Yew on yew

When we first bought this house, I made a table out of some old planks I found in the barn as we had nothing to eat our meals on. It turned out to be the most fabulous yew I have ever seen. Since we now have proper dining tables, it has been converted into a coffee table and resides in its temporary (read semi-permanent) abode in one of the bedrooms. As the kittens find any object within reach of interest, the tall yew wotsits have been removed from the kitten's area of operations and so sit on said coffee table along with a couple of model (OK toy) cars and Veronica's hi-fi (A couple of squillion watts a channel compared with my eight!).

In theory, these things are for sale. Quite how my adoring public are going to see them I'm not sure.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Natural light

We had been trying to get a photo of light showing through my pierced form without success when my wife suggested the obvious!! Sunlight. Flash just bleached all the colours or hid the points of light. I rather like it like this, will have to look into the possibilities of LED's to put inside.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Another mixed day

Whilst my wife abandoned me for the day, I tried to overcome the lack of sleep (the back woke me at 4am this morning) by concentrating and failed miserably.

We have been trying to lay a concrete floor in our new 'kitchen'. This means Veronica acts as labourer and barrows in the sand and gravel and I do the artistic bit! This is a VERY slow process. I can manage about half an hour at a time and Ronnie is not much better. I removed the moulds from yesterdays pourings and am quite pleased with the resultant curve. Three sections to go.

Once that was done I cut a big bit of what I thought was walnut but am now convinced is Elm and made a big bowl. Its the nearest one in this pic. After that, I worried at my pierced form a bit more. Its getting there now but still not entirely happy with it.

All this AND feed us and the cats too. Its a tough old life init?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A mixed bag

The last couple of days has seen a mixture of action. First was to finish off the pierced and textured form inspired by the UK workshop thread on creativity and then I got brave and attacked a bit of yew that I had been looking at since I collected it. Extremely difficult turning with knots all over the place and interlocking grain galore. Definitely 'rustic', lovely bit of wood though, even more spectacular in the flesh than it looks in the pic.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A definite trend

A quick look at the last four pieces seems to reveal a trend towards the 'art/decoration/not necessarily practical'

Over the last month its been platters and bowls galore, using up the elm and walnut, so its made a nice change to sit and do minimal lathe work and concentrate on the pretty (if that's what the beholder's eye sees)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Further joys - next year's Chilli

If I thought that stringing onions was fun...... getting the kidney beans out of their packages is REALLY fun. Fortunately, we had some help from one of the kittens. The first pic shows the reality of living in France, fresh food, wine and..... MARMITE.

Doing this sort of thing makes you think. This years crops have been either too much or too few of everything. The too much we can solve by bunging it in the freezer. The too little we just have to shrug and make up elsewhere. BUT..... what would happen if we relied just on this to survive. These beans for example are far too small and too few. OK they will still make a few nice Chilli con Carne but what if we had to feed the family on them. We eat less. If it happened again next year we might not eat at all. Millions round the world are in just that situation and few will have a freezer so the excess will go rotten.

We are so spoiled and out of touch with reality in the west that I wonder if we deserve to survive sometimes. It makes me mad when I hear complaints about how the standard of living has dropped or if they can't afford the latest toy. GET REAL.

We choose to be as self sufficient as possible, some people don't have that choice.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


The kittens have now settled in... well actually thats not the point, THEY adapted to their new surroundings as soon as they saw their first meal, the two older cats have now accepted that their lives are now hell and no longer bop the little ones on the nose every time they get within two feet.

As is normal, the two little monsters have three modes with a fourth developing fast.
One - EAT, then eat again and then eat some more
Two - zoom around at a thousand miles an hour and who cares what is in the way being it animal, vegetable or mineral
Three - Collapse into an exhausted heap and sleep for two hours

Four - Switch on the motor as soon as picked up so that we think they are adorable and sweet and will keep feeding them.

They are growing so fast that I think we had better stop the food. Heaven knows what it will be like when they are full size and still zooming around. Thankfully they have a large countryside to dump all that energy into (into which to dump all that energy - for the pedants amongst you)


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Colin, one of the guys on the UK Workshop forum, started a really interesting thread about creativity and the development of ideas. Philip Streeting joined the discussion and set a brief for us to consider. He showed us some plant forms and suggested we take some element of the 'design' and use it for creating something.

It really made me think about the sort of turning I want to do and how I could somehow escape from the everyday making round objects and inject a little 'art'.

This little boxwood form is the first attempt. The outside is natural box and the inner 'egg' is coloured with gouache and then the whole is lacquered.

NOTE TO ACCOUNTANT: (Wife) I need some more tools for carving and shaping!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh gawd - what have we gone and done now?

First we said no more cats after my two old moggies died a few years ago. So obviously we took the first two that needed a home.

Then we said, thats enough now. So what did we do?

Monday, August 15, 2011

The end of the plank

The elm is finished. Shame as its beautiful wood. The colour and grain is fantastic and, apart from a few issues with some very soft patches, the wood has been very rewarding to turn. A few more things to add to the collection for a couple of exhibitions coming up.

The little bowl in the middle is an interloper from an earlier supply. Thought I'd attack it as I was in the 'elm' mood.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Still learning the basics

Basic wood finishing techniques apply just as much to turned wood as any other. I seem to have dropped this information from the poor old fading grey cells somehow. This elm was causing me trouble with torn grain that I just couldn't sand out. SAND WITH THE GRAIN.

I like the first platter with its knot hole and double curve to the bowl but the second is much better after changing both the scraper and sanding technique.

Another three to come from this plank so the fifth one might be OK

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The joys of green yew

The last tall stemmed vase decided to bite back. This is the first time I have had a bit of the yew crack since I started sealing straight after turning. Maybe I've been lucky.

So I had to cut off the base and make another one, this time its black and I think I prefer it like this.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The joys of self sufficiency

We came to France to enjoy all the finer things of life. Friends called us Tom and Barbara. We have chickens, we do all our own fruit and veg.

CORRECTION.... for 'we' read 'her'.

However, fate, as ever, has intervened. By destroying my back, I have edged myself into the other camp and have to join in a bit. This means spending time away from the lathe and enjoying life's little luxuries like joining lots of the onion family together into long strings so I can hang them on the front of me bike - if I could ride it now. Good job I don't have a beret.

Friday, August 5, 2011

More scallops

After the tall stuff and boxes, back to bowls.

A friend gave me a really big lump of Apple last week and, once his had been made, I thought I'd do a scallopy bowl and add a lid and finial / knob. This was intended to be a tall finial but nature intervened. There was a small knot half way up so it became a knob!

Finish is walnut oil then wax.

Monday, August 1, 2011

When I came to France, I had spent eight years getting nowhere with the NHS as I suffered from Trigeminal Neuralgia and they couldn't or wouldn't fix it. Keep taking the pills was the cry.

Sadly, it flared up pretty badly as soon as I got here but the French system eventually provided what I needed but I still had to get past one idiot who a) didn't like the English and b) was an incompetent twit.

If anyone wishes to know what its like or what its possible to go through sometimes given the care of the 'best health service in the world, please feel free to read the Google Doc in the link below.

After all the excitement of making stuff for galleries and exhibitions, its back to everyday things.

Looking around the workshop, quite apart from the usual mountainous piles of shavings and sawdust, there seem to be a number of offcuts littering the lathe bench. So what can we do with them other than put them on the firewood pile.

Lots of them are about 2 inches long and most include the hole from the screwchuck. However, one or two had tenons on and so lend themselves to producing small boxes like this in boxwood. Very quick, very attractive and very parsimonious with materials. Perfect in fact. (Not necessarily in form - thats down to me)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The last of the line (for the present)

This is the fourth installment of these tall wotsits and, I think, the best. Its also the tallest. The yew is a bit paler than some of the pieces I have used recently but no less attractive for that. The decorated cup under the vase indicates the direction for the next few pieces I think.

I may well come back to the tall forms as trade demands but this is as much about progressing the skills as anything at the moment.
After seeing some work on the WOW site, I was goaded into having a go at some more adventurous stuff that the usual bowls, vases etc.

These are around 500mm and 720mm high and made of yew with ebonised ramin stems. Although not original ideas, making things like this encourages me to think about form and proportion and how things fit together. All progress on  the path to be a REAL wood turner.

I will make a few more in similar style before moving on.
I am starting this blog in order to track my progress in the spinney world. After a year or so of practice, its about time I started to apply what I have learned and make some 'art' now that the 'craft' is developing a little.

My previous work included making musical instruments, kitchens, doors and windows etc. I started turning after damaging my back badly. Standing at the lathe is just about the only position that is comfortable for me. Even sitting or lying down causes problems - not best for sleep.