Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Axminster Tools

Currently I am taking some time out to re-charge the batteries.  However I will be demonstrating at Axminster Tools, woodturning event, Sittingborne, Kent, on Saturday the 29th of October, for Crown Tools.

It will be a good day so anyone in the area come along for the day and say hi.

Monday, 24 October 2011


Photography has been an off shoot hobby that I have picked up due to woodturning.

I very much enjoy taking pictures in and around my local area and here are some that I have now processed from various locations.

The first picture is of my stunning wife and beautiful children that was taken in a famous garden near to my home.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The fine detail

On Friday I thought to myself that I would be able to finish off a few bits and pieces in a couple more hours. The thing is it is all the fine detail that takes the time, !! and there has been a lot of fine detail to get through.!!

Final buffing, making sure any spray finishes are as perfect as can be, takes it toll, more on my mind than anything else. Two hours of burnishing by hand of the stand for my last piece reminded me of Police training when we would sit in a room bulling our boots with a rag through thousands of small circles until the finish was perfect, only to have it ripped apart by the drill Sergeant on parade the next day. On occassions we would spend the whole of the Saturday pressing our best uniform and bulling our number 1 shoes ready for Monday that it would drive me mad.

Some time after I left the Police to persue Turning I bumped into an ex-colleaugue who  by this time had climbed the dizzy heights of promotion. We talked about the job and old times and he told me something that I will never forget, he said "nothing is ever wasted".

This rang in my ears today as I was going over the last finishing stages of the pieces ready to go to the gallery on Monday. The attention to manotonous detail when I was training taught me to be thorough to the extreme, to take note of, and deal with the fine detail.

This is not so far removed from making. Paying attention to every process and achieving the best that can be acheived before moving onto the next part builds not only a foundation to add to but also a method of methodical process which I can really get absorbed in. Being involved in each of these processes to the exculsion of all else is for me the only way to work.

It is a waste of time if I do not give my full attention to each part in fine detail,,,  the here and now.

These are a few pieces that I have been finishing.

The top of the page shows an ash lidded form 18inches high x 11 inches dia.

The second is one of my chilli forms.

The bottom being a horse chestnut enclosed form/vase. 7.5 inch dia x 11 inch high.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Finished latest piece

The above piece has finally been finished and is now ready to be packed up and delivered.

It stands 350mm high x 200 wide with the stand and 180mm dia main form. Textured, coloured with acrylic paints. Gold leaf, lid and finial ebonised.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Trying to be organised

While waiting for the kettle to boil for a cuppa I thought I would update what I have been up to today. Generally when I am making and things are going well I do not stop all day other than for a few drinks to keep me hydrated. Food has to wait as a break can interfere with the thought processes involved in making. Also I have more than enough spare pounds to loose so to wait for the evening meal is no real hardship. !

Procrastination is one of my favourite past times. Coupled with this I am very easily distracted and so if I am making a piece and look up on the shelf and see something more interesting I will pick it up and work on it for a hour until I decide to do something else.

While this is conducive to a chilled out life style, it means that I have dozens of almost finished pieces. Due to the new galleries I thought I should be disciplined and work through some more of the forms I have on the shelf.

So today I finished a 11 inch high ash form ready for a lid and finial, made the lid, coloured it and started to produce the finial. In between doing this I prepared a base for a textured and coloured piece and sprayed it black, gold leafed a bead and finished the exterior of the main form. While one piece was drying I worked on another in a sort of conveyor belt system.

I even surprised myself with the amount of playing, I mean work I can do. :-).

All the pieces have to be finished and delivered to the gallery in Castle Carey, a short drive from me on Monday morning.. Some of the pieces will remain in the gallery near to me and some will go off to the other. 
So once the body of work is finished I can photograph the new pieces ready for the off. Complete the paper work and send them on their way.

Anyway kettle finished and a cuppa in hand so it is back out to the workshop.

I will post some pictures later if all goes well.


Well something important came up in that I forgot I was suppose be helping my 10 year old daughter make a book for a project she has been working on.  Captain James Cook is the subject so it was down tools and watch over her as she aged some paper using tea bags and the oven to dry them.  I did not therefore manage to get finished what I had intended but some things are more important. They only grow up once after all.

The picture at the top of the page is as yet not quite finished and will sit on a plinth/base, which currently is drying so hopefully will be hard enough to work tomorrow.

The large form here is ash around 12 inches dia x 12 inches high and was roughed out some years ago, ( yep one of the pieces I have been meaning to finish for several years now), I told you I liked to procrastinate, :-) , well, things do get in the way. :-)

The piece once finished will and include a lid and finial.

Then once all of these pieces are finished it is on to another sculptural design that has been sketched up and some variations of my latest work and some other ideas which have been sitting my sketch book for, ummm, a while.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Anti Copying In Design

For some time I have noticed makers in certain fields using the work of others for reference, from which they then produce a piece of work that is obviously created from and so close to the original makers design.

There is a difference between reference work and copying. Changing a few parts or even many does not under UK and EU IP law mean that the new piece is the IP of the new maker. On the contrary if the initial source is original be it through all of its seperate parts and or design then changing a few parts of it to try to get around the law is a dangerous route to take.

This is not acceptable and the law on IP "Interllectual Property"  clearly states that taking a design of another and changing a few or more parts does not change the IP design ownership with the new maker breaching UK and EU IP laws.

I have seen this happen with makers within woodturning. There is a difference in making for non profit purposes but when profit is involved then the original makers lively hood is being eroded and their IP attacked it becomes unacceptable.

Therefore today I have joined an organisation call ACID, which stands for Anti Copyright In Design. This organisation is very large and is an official support and legal network for designers and makers who can register their interlectual property/designs with ACID, if any infringment does then occur the original maker can obtain the support of the ACID legal services for any breaches of IP which may be dealt with if not sucessfully resolved.

But more than this the organisation gives makers access to various member benefits and resources

The design that I previously posted and my Chilli form have now been registered with ACID as will any other unique designs that have been made or that I make in the future.

For more information on ACID go here 

This does not refer to the work that I demostrate or have given people permission to actively copy but this will have been clearly stated with regards to which designs.

Of course most of the time people are not aware of IP let alone the problems that breaching it could cause them. So this is another good reason for joining ACID as the organisation is very much about awareness as much as a deterent or solution.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


On numerous occasions when I have demonstrated at various venues I talk about stopping the lathe regularly to remove the shaving/dust from the inside. At a demo I will stop the lathe and hook out the small amount of shavings with my fingers or a bent spoon. Nearly every time I do this some one says with a wise tone " you wanna get an air hose in there, save you loads of time" or words to the effect of.

I never use an air hose to blow down the dust from my work surfaces or to blow out dust/shavings from the inside of a form not since I went to a Health and safety workshop free of charge by the HSE here in the UK. Basically an air hose for this sort of process is shunned upon as it blows all of the settled dust into the air.

The best method to adopt is the use of a vacumm cleaner. A simple attachment can be mase to fit into the end of the hose to go into any hollow form. 

Any way I found this small video on the HSE web site and thought I would post.

Happy turning

Monday, 17 October 2011

Latest Update

A while ago I posted that I was intending to change direction with my work and will be moving into a more sculptural group of works marketed specifically towards the exclusive interior market.

The previous piece is the start of this journey as is the background/networking I have been involved in behind the scenes.

Recently I had contact with Trowbridge Gallery who currently are located in London, Castle Cary, Atlanta and High Point, North Carolina.

Well I made an appointment to visit the gallery in Castle Cary in order to take a long some of my more sculptural pieces. It was recived very well and I have been asked to produce a group of works for both the Castle Cary Gallery and the London Gallery, Kings Road.

This is a very exciting time, for my work to be accepted for sale in such prestigious locations makes all the work in the last twelve years worth it.

In order to market my designs I now have a second web site 'The Design Collection'.

The moves I have been working on hard in the background have deliberately been kept close to my chest for obvious commercial reasons.

So now I will be burning the candle at both ends again to get the work finished and off delivered to the new gallery's.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Mixing it up

The base for the last piece got me thinking about the rest of my work and how I can make it perhaps more interesting from a sculptural point of view.

A lidded for on its own is a pleasing form but by adding it to the base for the previous piece adds a nice dimension.

So I am going to play around with the different aspect from each group of works to see how I can develop them further.


Finally here is the finished piece. Well I say finished as being the first there are things that I may or may not change. It will have to sit on the side board for a week or two so that I can muse over it's various parts.

The form is around 10 inches wide x 8 inches high. The base rocks and the idea is that the piece balances on its own. The main form is fixed to the base and the curved accent sits down into the teeth on either side. I am not sure that I am overly happy with this part and alter or adapt the idea. The original material that I wanted to incorporat for the accent came with various problems, most of which I was able to get around but not fully. So more work with this is needed.

The main form is hollow just like any other hollow form. The carving and texturing was included to add movement to the piece and took by far the most time with around 3500 individually textured lines being added by hand.

This is a new series that I am developing and as such this being the first was a real test in relation to the techniques involved with many of them being made up as I went along. A great deal has been learnt and this will hopefully hold me in good stead for the next one.

In all I calculate 15-18 hours has been spent on the piece. This amount of time was mainly down to it being the first and my feeling the way through it.

The next one is already designed but will have to wait a while as I have other projects to get started and finished.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Past the half way point

The  picture here is of the latest piece that I have been working on. I would say that I am past the half way point but there is still a lot of work to do.

The main form has now been textured and colour to add more depth to the piece.

It has been an interesting project. For some time now I have wanted (as I have said in previous posts) to change direction to more sculptural work. I wanted somthing unique that I had not seen before and with this piece believe I have found it. The the idea  has not come of any other work by any other maker and happened purely by accident and was very much a serindipity moment which has made the whole process more exciting.

Amongst the excitment there has also been several dreaded moments where I was not sure if what I was attempting would work at all. On these occassions I found thinking about going back to working within my safe zone but realised that if I did not push myself  that I would possibly not progress the piece, ( I even had a sleepless night worrying about if it was going to work or not.

This has been a frightening experience but also very excillerating. I am not sure if you can get an adrelalin rush from creating but I have certainly felt one during the making of this piece .

The carving and texturing have taken around 11 hours to date not including the making of the main form and other parts so I guess around 15 hours in total have been racked up.

Hopefully the end result will be worththe work put in. Obviously showing the piece in such a clandestine way with snippets here and there could be a recipe for my failing and falling from a great height. But one thing I have learnt through out my short time making and in previous vocations is that without taking risks I can't push the apron.

Failing is a big part of the process and I have had to alter my intentions as I have continued. Some things worked some did not, but the amount learnt is worth all the sweat and anxiety.

So  another 4-5 hours work and it should be complete, but even if it does not turn out as I intend then I will post pictures to show the end result.

You may ask why I have included information about how excilerating and frieghtening this process has been. Well a fellow creative maker who has help and continues to help me challenge the way I think told me a long time ago that as a maker I need to continually challenge and push outside of my comfort zone, to explore and investigate nw ways of working and that only by doing this will I move forward.

So this blog entry and process is more about how I have tackled the project that the physical form itself and hopefully it will give others an insight into how I am working more and more.

Friday, 7 October 2011


Today I have been working all day on the first of the new series of work I have been developing. Many hours have been spent on the carving and refining and quite a few more to go. In the above picture there is the addition of a fabricated/cut/sanding piece of wood which adds a different dimension to the piece.

Working on th first of any piece is as much a learning curve of "how to do it", as much as anything else. Often when making how I percieve I will make a piece changes as I go along with new ancillery tools being made to make the job easier.  Also while working on this piece a few more in the series have come to light which is an exciting feeling as I know that when I finish this piece I can get straight into the next which is already simmering in the back of my mind.

Hopefully post some more pictures soon when it is finished but ther is quite alot of work to do.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


The piece I am working on at present is the first in a new series of sculptural forms with the lathe being used for a small part of the process after which carving, colouring and other media will be added, there is a lot of refining to do with the carving currently being in a raw state.

It has taken me some time in fact many years to get to this stage of evolution within my work so I will not be showing the stages or the item until completely finished. The picture is a preview of the carving produced to date within a section of the piece.

Of course it may turn out to be a complete failure but without trying I won't know.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A few more

Most of my time at the moment is being spent as previously mentioned finishing pieces that have been on the shelf for a while. Here are some more that have been finished in the last few days.

A few pictures include pieces seen before but I have been experimenting with my camera trying out new ideas in relation to taking a few more interesting photo's for my web site.

The below two forms are sycamore, 140 mm dia x 130 mm high with anjan lids, finials and silver beads.

 This one is again sycamore and has been buffed with no top finish as yet being applied. It is ready to have the lid and finial made which will be over the next few days. It measures 200mm high x 190 mm dia.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Stone and Wood

Here is the textured form that I have been working on finished to include a lid, bead and finial.  The lid incorporates the same stone as the finial which was carved from a solid piece, you may recognise the carved stone form from from the last posting. The whole piece is around 6 inches diameter x 6.5 high

In the end I decided not to colour the body and to leave the natural carbon colour of the pyrography to show through to contrast with the wood. Some times I can over work a piece so often a minimalist approach is better for me,  I can then spend time looking at it and build/develop it in my minds eye for the next project.

The carving of the finial from stone was no more complex than carving  in wood, although there are a few different methods of working the material.

The finial will be replicated into a much larger organic sculpture out of either stone, wood or both and will be the starting point for my organic sculptures that I am going to continue making from long ago. originaly before taking up turning in a big way I produced numerous similar sculptures and have a new enthusiasm for dipping back into this.

Indeed this was how I came up with the carved wooden finials as a large sculpture would take me quite a while in comparison and I did not have the patience due to workin full time so a piece would take several weeks to complete. So I started making small carved finials as a way to keep my interest going with the carving.

Now I make for a living I can take as long as I like (within reason) and market towards a different customer base.

You can see from the  picture below that there are some lovely colours within the stone so I will be sourcing much larger pieces for carving in the future.

Here is the same piece on a neutral background so you can see it without distraction.

The form below is one of the numerous pure forms that I am finishing off so there will probably be quite a few more posted. It is around 5 inches diameter.

Will post some more of bits and pieces I am working on soon.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Fruit full few days

Yesterday I I decided to start finishing some of the eighty odd unfinished forms that I have in my workshop as several galleries are chomping at my heels to produce more work.

So the piece at the top was finished with the main form being made from spalted silver birch measuring around 280 mm dia x 220 high.  It has an Anjan lid and carved finial with brass bead.  Haven't made any of these for a while as I had interests in other work. But needs must so I am finishing some off.

But I doubt I will make many more pure forms such as this as I prefer now to add texture etc.

Also started working carving stone which is an enjoyable change to wood and I expect I will be working in it more and more.

This piece is not very large and an experiments for bigger pieces to see how the tools that I have work or not as I have found in some instances.