Monday, 21 June 2010

Great weekend

Well this weekend was a lot of fun. I was invited to demonstrate for two days in Wales. Saturday was at Crow Valley woodturners with the Sunday being at Mid Wales woodturners.

The last time I went to Wales was some 21 years ago and I had forgotten how beautiful the scenery was. The people that I met on both days were a pleasure to meet and I look forward to going again in the future if I am invited.

Thank you to Peter Bradwick and all the members of Crow Valley turners for a great day and lunch. Very hospitable and friendly people.

Also a big thank you to Jack and Judy Townhill the Chariman and Judy his wife from Mid Wales Woodturners for allowing me to stay at their beautiful home and sample Judy's wonderful cooking, the cakes are to die for.

The Journey was an interesting one especially seeing that when I left Crow Valley I accidental type the post code for the location of the next days demo into my sat nav. What I should have done was to input the location of Jack and Judy's home being around forty five miles Crow Valley side of the demo on Sunday. But ninety miles later I arrived at my destination in time for dinner. The extra miles due to the wonderful scenery were a pleasure and I must have stopped six or seven times just to take in the view.

the demo on Sunday was very enjoyable, not only due to meeting the members but also getting to eat some more of Judy's cakes.

A very enjoyable weekend meeting fellows turners who were very friendly.

It was also interesting to see that my creative work and ideas were most talked about and admired, with many wanting to know how I produced the various textures and finials etc.

Also I have started to notice much more coloured and varied work on display by the members and people are trying many new ideas that I have not seen before. I fell in love with a beautifully made box produced by Kym the secretary of Mid Wales woodturners which I just had to have for my collection. We came to an agreement and it is now sat proudly in my display cabinet. A fine piece of work indeed. Thank you Kym.

Still today I am having a break and relaxing getting ready to get back into writing articles, doing my books and my new designs. Oh yes and sorting my workshop out.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Inro box

The Inro box is a fun object to make and one that I can include various media, from leather, gold leaf, wood, raku fired beads and in this instance bamboo.

The boxes use to be worn under the Obi as pockets were not part of the traditional wear. The boxes were used to carry small items. Later in the society they became a symbol of status.

Again this is an amalgamation of various techniques and ideas that I have been using. The box is not a copy of any particular Inro design but rather my interpretation of the item.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Putting it all together

Well it has been a busy week., being half term and all. It gives me time to reflect on the work and processes that I have in my workshop. Pieces that I have been working on for some time that I fit in when I can. Most of my work involves more simplistic items such as textured bowls and simple lidded forms but little if ever any production work. I decided some time ago that I wanted to be more of a studio turner making gallery pieces rather than being a production turner, although my workshop can hardly be called a studio.

This piece is an amalgamation of many techniques that I have gathered from fellow creators, research, experimentation and observation.

Often I am asked where I get my inspiration from, how do I come up with the ideas. Well there is no easy answer or solution, not that I have found anyhow.

This piece is based on many hours researching the various subjects connected to the particular subject/piece I am making. I am more interested in the philosophy/background to the idea than the physical piece it self. What I mean by this is as in this piece my reference was the Tea ceremony and in particular the period prior to and that of the Tea master Rikyu 1522-1591.

Before this period the tea ceremony was very much for the elite. It was adorned with highly polished extravagant tea houses and utensils. Rikyu changed all of this by stripping away all of this extravagance and changed the ritual to be simplistic and more in harmony with nature. More connected with the philosophy of Wabi-Sabi and the austere way of the Zen monk.

Rikyu's own master took this as a challenge and demanded Rikyu's ritual suicide. Despite this the Tea Ceremony continued the way he had developed it and still does today.

Taking this I wanted to produce a piece that was reflective of the time prior to Rikyu. A piece that had once been extravagant , highly polished and adorned precious metals etc. This symbolises the material objects that were revered at this time as well as today.

Taking that everything in life is impermanent and forever changing, be it coming or going, growing or dying , it is always impermanent no matter how hard we try to hold onto it.

This is reflected in the piece being aged via various processes. The gold even showing signs of de-lamination from the backing surface. The symbolised grasses within the finial and insert bowing and flexing with the change of time, blending but still decaying.

So the basis for this piece being impermanence. This is also symbolic within the materials that I have used.

When starting turning I became embroiled in a purist mind set. Nothing but wood should be used in its pure form. No colouring, texturing, cracks or inclusions.

Over time and slowly progressing towards a more creative mind set I found a desire to include different materials, techniques and ideas.

Within this piece I have started to use polymer clay. It is not a new material to the creative crafts or indeed turning. It is basically a PVC polymer material which can be manipulated like modelling clay in many many ways and then baked in a conventional home oven which cures it.

The benefit of polymer clay over wood is that in fine work it retains a flexible strength where as wood with its short grain becomes weak. It can also be textured, coloured, painted etc, so is very versatile for creative work.

Hopefully I will start working with more materials as I find that taking the best of each material makes for a much more exciting and creative process. Although I am always trying to play catch up with materials and techniques to be able to realise the ideas I have rattling around in my mind. I guess this will continue the more I push my ideas.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Polymer clay additions

For some time now I have been using small amounts of mixed media within my work. Be it jewellery beads, acrylic artists paints, copper and gold leaf etc.

The advantage of using different media within my work allows me to take may work in another direction and to enhance what I have produced. Also at times wood having limitations in its structural strength when very thin.

I have for some time been experimenting with polymer clay which is basically PVC which can be moulded, manipulated, textured, coloured etc etc, and then baked in an oven to harden.

The benefit of polymer clay is that due to not having a grain and having a consistant structure which is as hard when cured, yet still slightly pliable, enables me to make items for my work that are much finer and detailed in its construction.

Here is a basic finial that I have made form my standard lidded forms. before the inclusion of polymer clay I would not have been able to make such a fine finial in wood as it would have been too fragile to be a viable option. The top third of this finial is below 1mm in thickness and ends just under .5 of a mm. Despite this it is strong and still slightly flexible.

There are now numerous polymer clay accents being produced and I will post these when they are finished.