Friday, 21 December 2012

End of another year

Well we are at the end of another year. The time seems to past far too quickly, possibly as this year has been the busiest to date.

So  a new year is on its way, and I feel a new direction is needed.

 A long time now I have been talking about moving in a more sculptural direction and 2d wall art as I feel it is the only viable way to move forward with my work and business.

New tools and materials have been accumulated over some time now and are ready to start work with. The designs I have been building up to for the last year or so are ready to start in the new year.

It is always a juggle when going through any transition as the bills still have to be paid, this at times means producing bread and butter items but this is now coming to a close with my last commission of bowls being taken to a happy customer today.

For this reason I have during 2013 been trying to cut back on demonstrations but have as many booked for next year as this, and bookings for 2014 already coming in.

Having said that I have cut back on evening demos as they are just not cost effective for me when I look at the amount of workshop time/profit lost compared to what can be produced and sold in the same time spent staying in the workshop making.

My change in direction is also in part down to my disillusionment with the way in which woodturning is viewed in galleries etc compared to when I introduce my creative work and other media.  My creative work is viewed with enthusiasm but turned wood seems to be harder to sell, with a few new mixed media galleries now being interested in stocking it at the prices I believe it is worth.

Wood turning while a wonderful enjoyable craft, is not where I any longer want to concentrate my time as a career, this does not mean that I am stopping turning just moving into the sculptural work as my main focus with the lathe moving back very much into a small part process.

It is important for me to keep pushing my boundaries and a target since starting out using the lathe is to produce primarily sculptural work. Often round work that is primarily made on the lathe is seen as the only way in which to produce work when using this machine. Over time I have seen its power as a material removal tool and a highly efficient machine for the production of  flowing base curves for sculpture.

By staying in the round I believe I am missing am exciting process.

I have been speaking about this for some time now, and it has been slowly coming mainly due to many of the designs I previously sketched not being of the right concept. It takes time to come up with a range of work that is new/unique and has longevity and while I feel I have found it, of course to date it is an unknown and may be a monumental flop, time of course will tell..

The sculptural pieces part finished shown on my blog some time ago  are now gathering dust. They have provided a good deal of research and development time to see what tools and materials I want to work with in the future, and since their conception the new designs have come through and taken my time, they will be finished at some stage but when I do not know.

The picture at the top of the page is another of a similar piece made some years ago and is not reflective of the new work I will be producing. I just thought it looks a bit more festive than some of my other pieces.

So have a great festive season. My blog will will be rarely updated for several months while I spend a lot of time working on new work and other projects.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


 The weekend and this week is very busy but I thought a small update would keep the blog moving.

Out for a walk as I do every day with my dogs and my camera and managed to get a few pictures, some have a bit of camera shake as they were taken at 35 x optical zoom without a tri-pod as I find it a bit to cumbersome to carry and walk the dogs at the same time.  (a mono pod is on Santa's list).

Often looking up into old tress I can find some interesting, shapes, colours and textures for use in sculptures perhaps.

Oak Apple 35 x zoom Canon SX30 iS

Also on Monday had the final of two AWGB teaching days with a few pictures here of the day.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Busy week

It has been a busy of late leaving me little time to update my blog.

Saturday and Sunday was spent teaching at Walford Mill, followed by teaching 6th form students with the AWGB on Monday and then a long drive to Test Valley turners for an evening demonstration. The rest of the week is taken up with commissions, writing, and my own work.

The picture at the top of the page is fro Walford Mill

Picture below from the AWGB day of which there is a second soon with four more students.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Latest rendering

At the moment I am turning a mass of noodle and other utility bowls for outlets together with getting ready for teaching Saturday, Sunday and Monday including an evening demo on Monday evening, so not a lot of time to work on the more creative pieces that are gathering dust in my workshop.

The simple bowl is a beautifully item to turn and one I find very relaxing. While technically simple in process the desired 'simple' line and form is all but 'simple' to achieve, this being the reason I enjoy producing them as it means I can get back to basics and really enjoy the flow of line and the connection of this to the out-breath,  one single movement/cut for the entire outside of the form.

So this fractal rendering is my play time this evening looking at incorporating more complexity from the previous that I have shown.

The overall basis and foundation is still that of a simple line/form, in this case a spiral. It is interesting to look at the two disciplines, ( simple bowl and complex computer render) separately, yet they are connected, the complexities of the simple bowl with my attempts to achieve the perfect form and cut, with that of the subtlety behind such a complex computer rendering as shown above.

At the basis of each is a purity of line, a foundation on which to build, and if either forms, be they complex or simple are lacking in this basic purity of line, then no matter how complex the subsequent layers are, the end result will be lacking in it visual impact.

Observing the shapes within the computer generated fractal pictures I produce and the observing of nature is a rich source of inspiration to me even when producing a simple noodle bowl, as beauty in nature all comes back to a direct relationship with mathematical equation, go google 'Fibonacci in nature' and observe for yourself how beautiful the sequence really is and how it can help in the producing of form and sculpture.

The real beauty though is when we actually see it in every day life, for me this is magical, so don't just look, connect.!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Monday, 12 November 2012


Still thinking about a central point of focus but playing around with some interesting shell forms.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Cross roads

The computer generated pictures here are a few more I have produced continuing with a current theme of interest, 'Focus and Conception'.

The amount of designs I have now amassed is in the many hundreds and while I do very little with them at the moment due other work commitments, the process of producing something totally different to what I am use to at the lathe has certainly helped develop the way I think about design and making as a whole.

Many new ideas for pieces have been developed into workable designs in the solid by working with computer design, together with more designs and ideas in relation to my Far Eastern inspired work I doubt, due to the volume, they will ever be transferred from my sketch book into reality.

Not working on all the designs is not a bad thing at all, certainly  has not been a waste of time. By working continually with new ideas that are far away from anything that could initially be thought of as being produced on the lathe, clears my mind from cumbersome ways of thinking.

The problem I am having at the moment is that the fulfillment from coming up with new ideas is enough, it is almost as if once my mind has worked around a problem that it becomes disinterested with the idea and wants a new challenge. This of course may be that I never really concentrated in school so did not come across the excitement of learning. In previous careers though I was never satisfied with just doing well at my job, I wanted to push the boundaries further,now I see this is part of my personality.

Is this a bad thing I wonder?, after all ten years ago I could only produce a bowl or a candle stick that had been featured in a magazine. Now I have so many ideas that the excitement I get from just challenging my mind is enough, hence the reason I am working more and more in computer generated designs/art or what ever it is labelled as.

Do we actually ever have to 'make' something for it to be reality, or is coming up with an idea in our mind enough. After all none of it matters. In fifty years my social security number will have been archived and another number born.

So I think, but do not know yet, that I am coming up to another cross road, hence the reason I am working on 'Focus' at the moment to try to get some clarity in my thinking. Does it work?, I will tell you in another ten years. !

Friday, 9 November 2012

Carrying on the theme

This is a piece I made today carrying on with one of the themes I am interested in. This one compared to the last has been stripped back even more with minimal manipulation of the main form on the lathe and off.

The process and results for me are very relaxing and I am producing several more in this series which I will post once complete.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Having a huge interest in the far east I have for many many years loved Raku fired ceramics.  If I had the resources I would certainly learn Raku pottery and obtain myself a kiln, but space and going off at such a tangent is not viable at this time, however it will be something that I pursue later on in life.

Raku pottery achieves it's dramatic effects through firing in a Raku kiln with various combustible materials/dust etc. This causes the smoke to adhere to the surface during firing producing amazing effects, with the process dating way back to around the 1500 century.

It is something that I have been playing around with tentatively in the background for a few years now but never really achieved the desired effect I was looking for through the use of the airbrush, for me such a technique doesn't quite hit it so I have been looking at other routes to produce the Raku effect.

Here is one of the first attempts I produced back in June of this year, it has not been shown until now for several reasons mainly as I have been perfecting the basic technique which I feel I have now achieved.  Next is to induce some of the colours associated with some Raku firing.

Anyway here is the first base effect that I was happy with.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Strictly Woodturning-Axminster Tools

It has been a busy weekend. Thursday and Friday was a great few days at the 'last' Strictly Woodturning where I was one of the demonstrators for the two days.

Saturday was up early 0400hrs, to leave at 0500hrs for Garden of England woodturners for another all day demo. It is my intention to cut back on the demo's for 2013 which I have been doing but these are some of the last of 2012, although since going to Australia I am getting more enquiries from abroad as previously mentioned.

Strictly was a great event where I managed six demonstrations and two free slots plus the evening event. This was organised with two lathes on the stage so that two of the demonstrators could have a turn off against each other in producing an item within 6 minutes. The first item being produced was a goblet (of which I had not turned before but did get a practice of two the week before). Fortunately I am a fairly fast turner even though I do not production turn and finished my goblet in under 4 minutes which I was very pleased with and in the first round was 1 point behind the leader, Gary Rance.

The judges gave us their humour with Nick Agar (the main judge) dressing up for the event, very dapper Nick and great humorous judging.

The following rounds were to turn an egg and egg cup (again in under 6 minutes). Gary Rance who it was a pleasure to watch turn, produced a near perfect egg, including finishing in under 1 minute. Of course, and it would have been a crime if not, Gary went on to win the turn off and the much coveted Strictly trophy.

I did not manage to get many pictures as although we had two clear sessions, on one of these I decided to watch Gary Rance demonstrate as I have not done so before. A great, relaxed but highly skilled demo, and a pleasure to watch.

Here are the few that I managed to get. The picture at the top is across the valley from the B&B I was staying at.

The delegates and demonstrators being welcomed by Axminster.

Gary Rance demo 

Getting ready for the evening turning competition

Nick Agar in his dapper gear as head judge. His jacket was a work of art in itself as you would expect with Nick, and as ever he was approachable and helpful. 

Getting ready for the off

The judges ready to give their thoughts, lol. 

Delegates settling in for a good evening.

Stuart King and Andrew Hall with the clock ticking.

Stuart Mortimer and Colwin Way

Colwin parting his goblet off with a minute to go.

Myself and Carlyn Lindsay  Being on stage being watched by over 100 delegates was great fun.

Dennis Keeling and Jason Breach
It was the first time Dennis had turned a goblet but he still managed to turn it within the 6 minutes. 

Gary Rance and Ray Key

Andrew Hall and Gary in the next round turning an egg and egg cup. 
It was with great disappointment for me that I did not make the second round and it meant I had to sit back with a glass of wine and watch the show. A real shame. :-)  of course it was great fun and nice to be able to relax and watch. 

Nick watching closely.

Stuart Mortimer a great turner and it was nice to get time to sit down and talk with Stuart, Gary, Stewart King, Ray key, Andrew Hall, Colwin Way, Jason Breach, Denis Keeling and Carlyn Lindsay.

Gary Rance being awarded the trophy.

Very much deserved.

Some of the work of delegates and from the AWGB display. 

Unfortunately I did not get time to take as many pictures as I would have liked.