Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Progressing slowly

This piece previously posted in it's raw form after texturing has now been taken a bit further. I was hoping to work on this much earlier and to have it finished, but I decided to leave it on the shelf for a few months as I find that often I come up with new ideas that are possibly better than my initial intentions.

Various base/colouring techniques have been used together with new materials. as such the piece is already changing beyond what I had initially intended.

IE I had originally wanted to reflect the blue and white ceramics however as you can see blue and white does not feature.

The materials used in this piece have taught me a lot about the way in which they can be used and new ways that it is not intended for. This is an interesting process as I just have to let go and not worry about wrecking the work I have done before.

It is an exciting and honest process as the piece becomes less contrived and alters without my full control.

This natural process is what I have been working towards for a long time as before I found that I would stay well within my comfort zone so the end result could be sent to a gallery to be sold.

Working in this way is much more fun than the normal restrictive process that I normally have to work in.

The colours here are the base onto which I am going to apply various other colours/tones and materials to achieve the effect I am looking for. Again I am intending to include natural materials that I have not used before so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

The benefit in this is that I get to spend a few hours relaxing a foraging in the local woods for materials and do not know what I am looking for until I see it.

The next update will be a while as it is half term and I am doing my child care routine for the week. But this gives me time to spend with my children and think about other things. In turn I hope that some new ideas for the piece will come to the fore.

I will update after the next stage.


Here are a few more pictures updating the process within this piece. They show the natural progression of nature and the slow change which is occurring to the bamboo leaves.

This slow transition for me takes on a natural form of beauty and embodies the philosophy of impermanence and Wabi Sabi.

Hopefully I have achieved an understated piece which reflects the natural order of nature.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Latest piece

Obviously too much time on my hands for two posts in one day. !

This latest piece is carrying on my interest in various Japanese philosophies.

My main interest at the moment is the impermanence of all objects etc, I wanted to include this within the piece by leaving the bamboo leaves in place so that over time they can wither and reflect this philosophy.

The piece will slowly change as the leaves alter shape and colour, with each passing the viewer will see an ever changing piece, until the leaves finally drop and rest on the top of the form.

Also within my work I am currently exploring the subject of Wabi-Sabi, which is a huge subject to try to unravel in itself. Part of this philosophy is that beauty comes from all things, even if we think they can be said to be ugly, as nature intended it to be such then it is therefore perfection. I am a mere student of this subject so if you are interested in trying to understand more there are many good reference books and subjects on the net, one of these I have include here. However it is said that even the Japanese themselves find it difficult to explain the philosophy as it has to be lived to be understood. So look at more than one reference point so that a broader understanding can be obtained.

Autumn is definitely here

Autumn is definitely here. It is one of my favourite seasons as I find the colours inspirational and it really brings home the impermanence of all around us. Mostly we do not see the passing of time, life is a tread mill and I find that unless we spend time to slow down and contemplate then we just miss everything.

When I decided to leave my career in the Police I came home and told my wife that I had decided that finally I had had enough of pushing water up hill and I was going to leave.

The obvious issue in modern life, and particularly in our western society is that we have bills to pay, mainly a mortgage and the associated financial considerations that go with it. Also we had our two young daughters one of which was only just born. So when asked what I was going to do and I replied " I'm going to be a woodturner" it was met with a certain amount of concern.

The rest is history, I am not going to say that it is easy as it is not, however I now do not see myself as having to get up to go to work each day, but instead go into my workshop to play. I am very fortunate.

What I am getting to is that what we do in our every day life is no different than the changing of the seasons. we can either stay in the rut or go in a different direction. of course it is easier to stay with the devil we know and to take such a big step is, I can say, frightening and exhilarating at the same time.

This can also be equated into our work. When starting turning I was very much into the traditional way of doing things. Wood should be left untouched to allow it's beauty to show through and should never be altered. Then over time I found myself wanting to explore what more I could achieve with my ideas. Keeping to the traditional ways restricted me and this caused conflict with how I thought my work should be, for it to become accepted by others, and what I actually wanted to do/experiment with.

As soon as I started colouring and texturing I found the responses at times less than favourable. People are still today very quick to criticise or say out load that they do not like work that has been ruined in their eyes.

However just like the changing seasons I have now let go of the concern of what others think and the restrictions that this holds. Also the part that I find the most refreshing, is that the amount of people now that enjoy looking at my work within the traditional fraternity has grown. More often than not when I demonstrate the pieces that hold the most interest for people are indeed the textured and coloured pieces.

More than this people now actually want to listen and accept the ideas behind the pieces. Of course there are those that do not always like some of what I do and prefer the wood to be left alone, as I do on occasions. This I do not have an issue with as it would be a very dull place if we all agreed.

So I see more and more the changing views of people towards a different selection of work.

What is important is to take time to contemplate, to contemplate not only what and why we like something but also why we do not like something put before us. Before we can say we do not like something then we need to understand why.!. To just come out with the statement is for me empty and blinkered. To understand why will help us to understand how to progress and to elevate our work.

After all how can I progress if the only thing I can say is that I do not like something without knowing why. If my reasons for not liking are personal taste, then this thought process has to be discounted. Or the personal connection/taste will also restrict my ability to create fresh new ideas.

This ties back in with my last post with regards to critiquing others work.

The picture above was taken near to my home. My camera is always on hand to take pictures of anything that I enjoy in the hope that I can find ideas from the colours, textures etc etc, as many of the previous pictures and posts have indicated.

Below are some more pictures taken of different items around my home.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

New piece

This is a piece I have been working on for some time. Well mostly it has been sat on the shelf waiting for me to progress it further. !! I will start a detailed piece like this and leave it on view for quite some time, often several months as I work through each of the stages.

Some of this is due to being busy with other work but also that I have found that more often than not I will change my mind or find a better way of doing a particular technique that initially I had intended to use.

Invariably the piece will end up totally different than I had initially imagined it. For me this is a valuable process to go through as it involves much learning and ultimately I have a far greater connection with the piece than just churning them out for the sake of it. Far more is learnt by me in this way and normally much more than is actually seen in the end result.

The piece is intended to be along the lines of my previous Japanese inspired work, but I wanted to take time and include many different ideas I have had for a while into one piece.

This is the very early stages, turned and texturing started with a Dremel. Further pictures will be taken today and I will post them later.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Enjoyable Weekend

Well the weekend was spent in the company of Norwich Woodturners.

The day was very enjoyable and a big thank you to Roger and Gina for inviting me to stay with them for the evening before the demonstration on the Saturday. Wonderful food and hospitality.

The day started with me demonstrating one of my lidded forms, followed by a fill in/small project before lunch of an ornament/paper weight.

Lunch was local fish and chips which always go down well.

After this I showed the procedure to make a textured and scorched wide rim bowl. banter was thick and fast which made the day fun and very friendly. After the main project in the afternoon I finished off with a small textured and scorched pot and finally a small hollow form.

One thing that was very evident was the table display of the members work. All of which was of a very high standard and included a wide range of items from coloured and textured bowls, pierced items, boxes, ply vase, burr form and a massive wall plaque which I would estimate to be about 5 ft long. It was obvious that the members liked to experiment with colour, piercing, as well as natural work.

As I said all the work was of a very high standard with myself being asked initially by Roger to critique the work. I find it more and more difficult to critique others work unless I know what each individual was trying to achieve with the piece.

I do not subscribe to some of the traditional thoughts on items and how they are made. IE my personal feelings on boxes and a plop fit is that it is not necessary unless the item is to hold something small and is likely to fall over. I also do not feel that thin walled items are necessary unless the piece originates from green wood. As this for me is the only time I feel it totally necessary to go thin, as it were. So if someone intends make a chunky bowl with an unequal wall thickness, then the item is right for the maker.

This is not to say these methods are wrong if people so wish to adopt them, but I am not sure that imposing my thought process on another's work is necessarily helpful for that person to develop. After all my observations are only my opinions based on my personal preference and tastes, this does not make me or another in my view correct when critiquing work.

There are forms that I prefer and some that I think are just not right. But again this is based on my own observations and programming for the way I think, based on my own research and slant.

The best way I believe to progress work is for each individual to be ultra observant in relation to what is seen around them, add to this detailed self critique of the work and I believe this should be enough. If we are honest with our own work to help us develop the next piece the development with naturally develop. This partly goes back to a previous post which included "beginners mind" within the subject.

Above all I believe people should make what they enjoy and which gives satisfaction, as surely nothing else matters.

I am now back to the office, making more ply pieces for the galleries, lidded forms with various colouring and texturing with new techniques, which seem to change as I go along, mainly due to them not working as I had initially thought.

Still seeing what happens at the end of it is the most exciting part. But then if it does go wrong then there is always the chimnea. !!!