Wednesday, 29 September 2010


This is a piece I made some time ago based on various interests I have in Japanese philosophy. It is the only one to date that I have made but will be exploring these ideas in a few smaller items involving the tea caddy.

Will try out a few new ideas and change a few of techniques used in this one.

I am a great one for trying out a technique and then not running with it to see how far I can develop it. So I am going to revisit this piece and see what I can do while incorporating a few new forms to add interest.

I will keep you updated and will start on the main base form today.

Sunday, 26 September 2010


Here is a latest piece. Simple hollow form made from high grade birch ply. The material gives many advantages for me over working in natural wood, particularly from a process point of view.

This piece is part of a range of interior items I am producing which eventually will include mixed media but for now I am just getting the simple lines of form and the modern feel of ply in my work and out to the outlets. All of whom to are looking forward to receiving more. Seems they are very popular which is much to my relief. As said not a new material for interior items at all but when you change direction there is a certain amount of concern especially when you put time effort and money into making not knowing if you are going the right way.

Still will have to see how it progresses. Quite exciting really to have a renewed interest using a traditional craft method.

The piece above is not the only direction I want to take my work. Much more sculptural work and forms only using the lathe as a part process are in the design book. But until these have been made, photographed, refined and out in the general public domain I would be committing commercial suicide to disclose the prototypes here and now.

Something I have learnt over the last few years is that I not only have to develop my design skills, be more aware of the commercial viability of products outside of the traditional woodturning sphere, but also that I have to be far more switched on in relation to business matters.

The traditional making methods are very enjoyable and rewarding, and I will still continue to make my traditional work ( which I have no doubt I have said somewhere if not here before), but it is obvious to me that to stay with methods, just because it has been done for time in memorial is also commercial suicide. If not we would all still be writing with the quill.

Not that there is anything wrong with this, but for me it is now over and I have to move on to new methods and designs to run along side my original work. I may in future move totally away from turning as I now know it and to use the lathe more and more as just a part process. I certainly want to use less and less wood. But I am in one of those moods hence why my work and ideas are so eclectic, and tomorrow I may be back to all things traditional. But I have to say that I doubt it as I feel I am again shedding a skin.

My friends will tell you that not so long ago ( a couple of years) I would not be seen dead colouring or altering through texture or adding mixed media to wood. Then I started colouring and texturing and become acutely aware of the enjoyment of letting the mind go and making from within, having a connection with the work more than just making a bowl.

Now this playing and experimenting has started me on this new ,what I will class as ultra modern type work. Again the designs I am producing are well away from the hollow form above, But I still have to keep my feet on the ground and and I enjoy making this sort of item so it will continue.

It also is apparent to me that I am becoming less and less of a conformist to the mass mind set I come across, for me it does nothing but restrict and blinker the creative process. I have tried hard to conform to certain ways of thinking but again it is time to move on to a different place as I find little interest in conforming to ways that are restricting me in my work. hence now becoming more interested in new materials and methods as I find the makers open to my way of thinking in the approach to making.

Hopefully I will have some pictures of the new pieces in the next month or so, but for now you will have to put up with me just expressing my thoughts through my blog.

Friday, 24 September 2010

still working at it


Thought it was time to give an update. Busy times for me with various bits and pieces and my new project which is a range of work based on what I have been doing but including different materials is under way.

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures at this stage as I am still working on the different characteristics of the materials and trying to work out how to use them. Also my original ideas have changed since my last post and some have been shelved as being too time consuming and not commercially viable. ( Apart from when I get time to play).

It is the most fun part working in different ways with different tools etc. But I can get carried away and before I know it another month has gone by without much being done apart from experiments. ( which doesn't put food on the table). But hopefully will.

So I have also been making a lot of bread and butter items for the galleries I stock ( again behind schedule) but hey life is too short to go working too hard.

Part of the new range I am working on has involved looking at the way I work, how efficient this is compared to the traditional methods of roughing out unseasoned wood, seasoning, re-turning etc etc. Most traditional woodturning methods are pretty slow from a commercial point of view, but with a few alterations I have found my productivity raise perhaps 3-400%, if not more. Not that I have done any highly scientific trials, just a few time in motion studies for the pieces I have worked on.

One of the issues I have is that, and this dawned on me when speaking to another maker/friend, is that, I may have an idea but in 8 months time I have change my mind. While with my lidded forms I can just finish those for my bread and butter work. Some pieces just get left, as my original idea does not seem worth exploring further. Or I have just gone down a different route.

Being eclectic with my work keeps it interesting but means that some days I do not set foot in the workshop as I just do not know what to do. What piece to tackle. Also I am doing a lot of research etc which takes up the time, and probably will not been apparent in the final pieces..

So also now I am working through pieces just to get them finished.

Oh by the way my new pieces are not that far removed from my normal work, so I hope people are not expecting the next woodturning revolution. It has been done before, just I am doing it my way.

Must go and take the next piece out of the oven.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Day out

Today I took my daughters out to the opening of Somerset crafts which is a new craft centre opened by creative makers who make and sell in the Somerset area.

I always enjoy meeting other designer/makers especially when they produce work using different methods and materials than myself. Often I find it refreshing just to talk about different ideas, materials and how they are used, methods of design and how others go about their work.

Also a friend and fellow maker is involved in the group so we went along to see what it was all about.

There were various disciplines being displayed with all the work being of high standard. wood, glass, mixed media, furniture, sculpture, soaps photography, jewellery and more was on display. Together with a jazz band, food, drink and a bouncy castle for the children it was a good day.

What I found interesting was that some of the disciplines being shown are those that I have had an interest in including in some of my work for a while. The makers were happy to show me some ideas and give me details of products to play around with, these have now been ordered and hopefully add a new dimension to the new ideas I have yet to make.

This for me is what is so exciting about making creative work which is not restricted by utility. I can think of an idea and at the last minute by meeting other people and seeing new directions my designs can be turned on their head and I go back to the design/technical stage again to try to work out how to include the new materials.

The internet is a great help to get hints and tips for using the materials but one point that was evident from the makers that the best way to learn is experiment and make mistakes. I am looking forward to the new materials coming and will update when I have done some.

In the mean time here are some pictures of the makers work etc.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Evolving - Dissolving

It has been quite some time now since I have posted anything. I have been very busy with teaching and various other distractions. There is as I have said in a previous entry a new project that I am working on but to be honest this is still at the starting blocks as I decided to leave it until I returned from holiday, although I have been playing around in the background with ideas.

The "new project" while no real secret I am not posting at the moment as I am still undecided in which direction I want to go.

In fact I am frustrated and unsure about my work in general and have lost interest in the current format of both environment and working methods/processes in which I work. This frustration is I know part of the natural creative process. Or at least I hope it is.!! Not having been down this road before and letting go fully and having the willingness to see where I end up is both exciting and frightening. Mainly as I have to make money to support my family from what I do, but I realise from my recent experience of making and selling, letting go from a creative stand point, is the way in which I want to move my work forward.

The traditional environment for me is frankly ,dull, uninspiring and restrictive in relation to the creative mind set and work that I want to develop. I now realise that I have to move in another direction. This is old territory and I have been over this before. People that know me will say that I go over the same old stuff time and time again.

However I have found is a natural transition of moving away from my safe zone and then slowly going back to it, moving away again until the natural order of things slots into place. Often that pushing too hard down a certain route is counter productive and that letting things develop at their own speed can be more productive in the long run for me. It also provides a more honest work as it is less likely to have been produced through external pressures and conformity.

Still, now that I am back from holiday in the sun I can start a fresh direction while continuing some of my standard work along side. This means working in new materials, methods and designs totally different to what I have worked to date. While some will be developments of my signature work.

It will be some time until I have any pictures of work as I have loads to do behind the scenes with sourcing materials, trying them out, perfecting them !! and then making a viable product.

In the mean time I will post a few pictures of textures that I took while on holiday and a few general holiday snaps.