Friday, 27 January 2012

Axminster Tools, Nuneaton, Saturday 28th January

As mentioned a few posts back tomorrow I will be at Axminster Nuneaton together with other clubs and demonstrators so if you are in the area it would be good to meet up with some old friends or make some new ones, so come and say hello.

I will take my camera and see if I can get a few pictures of the day, but if it is anything like the last one it will be busy.

The picture at the top was taken a few days across the fields from my home. An amazing red sky in the early evening. Thought it might brighten up the page. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

"The Noble Truth"

A few posts back I mentioned that I had been invited to submit a piece of work to the AAW POP exhibition 
in May after which the piece will be going to the AAW symposium in San Jose, California.

The title of the exhibition is "Beyond Containment" and the bases of my piece is drawn from my deep interest in the teachings of Zen/Buddhism and the belief of impermanence, in that all things be they riches, possessions, power, happiness, sadness, fast cars, pain etc etc, will eventually end and are impermanent, and by this simple fact are beyond our containment or control.  Within the teachings it is a fundamental belief  of the fragility of all things with this being the natural order of life, nature and all around us. By accepting this we can find peace in our existance even if in pain or hardship.

The main teachings of this are contained within "The Four Noble Truths", "The Noble Eightfold Path" and is
the fundamental basis of the dharma which is contemplated for many decades by followers of Buddhism in the pursuit of enlightenment. 

This piece is my representation of this and life and is represented in a decaying vessel. 

Many techniques have been used from pyrography, scorching with a blow torch, staining with inks, colouring with acrylic paints, metal foils and patination techniques plus a few new techniques I picked up along the way while making the piece. The finial/handle is a twig taken from a broken/fallen part of an English Oak tree and again represents impermanence.

The main form is sycamore and measures 6 inches dia x around 5 inches high and is sitting on a slate base.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Shell form computer generated pictures.

The pictures here are some that I have recently generated for reference shapes/textures etc. Over the time of using various softwares to tap into various creative methods I have produced hundreds of designs that I keep archived for future use. 

Obviously most of these I keep for my own reference, the two shown here are produced from my interest in 
shell forms and the fibonnacci sequence in nature.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Gallery of Wood Art Exhibition, Minnesota, America.

Previously I mentioned about having been invited to submit a piece of work to an exhibition in America.

It came out of the blue some time ago in that I received an invite to submit a piece to the AAW Exhibition "Beyond Containment" that is being held at the Gallery of Wood Art, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA.

The piece after being shown at the exhibition will be displayed and fingers crossed auctioned at the 2012 AAW Symposium at San Jose, California for the POP show, this being the AAW Professional Outreach Program.

It is quite hard for me to write this entry as it has been a very hard trek from leaving my career in the Police to take up woodturning as a full time occupation and have during this time always looked at the American woodturning arena as being one of the highest standards in quality and design, supported and shown by so many top makers from around the world.

Those of you that will have read my entry previously after my visit to the 2011 symposium will know how I was blown away by what I saw.

To have been asked to submit a piece of work to this exhibition, especially having seen the names in the list of other makers who I have studied for many years is a huge huge honour, pleasure and achievement, frankly I am blown away to have been invited.

Now I just have to wait for the piece to arrive in one piece and all will be well.  I have taken numerous pictures but again I will not be posting these until nearer the time of publication of the details/catalogues etc.

Again a big thank you to all my friends and family that have given me the support through the years to help me achieve such steps in my career.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Nuneaton Axminster store demonstration

Axminster Power Tools have an open/demonstration day at their Nuneaton Store on the 28th of this month which I will proudly be attending to demonstrate various Crown tools. There will be other companies and woodturning clubs attending so if you are in the area and want a day out, I hope you will come and introduce yourself.

Other than this I have finished my latest piece but at the moment will not be displaying any pictures until it has been received in America.

I will however be posting full details of the exhibition and piece for those that may be interested in the near future, I am very excited to say the least and not much gets me excited these days. :-) 

Other than this I have been out photographing ( the picture at the top of the page was taken last evening which was a chilly clear night just right for star gazing). I will post some more pictures when I get some more time.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Creative Painting

There is a thirst within the woodturning forums which has been growing over time for knowledge and techniques for colouring, texture and how to create the more unusual turnings.

This is pleasing to see as letting go and making creatively to express ourselves is a wonderfully enjoyable process. Having the ability to draw on many varied techniques enables us to make new pieces but also we find that new interests and subjects are found that point us in a totally new direction that had not been anticipated, adding further to the excitement of the process. Making soon becomes an unknown process with the end result often having evolved along the way.

Many people ask, as I did when investigating new ideas, how certain techniques are achieved. While initially I was shown some techniques I was taught to investigate and to find through experimenting how to achieve the effects I was after. It may be a technique from painting such as making crackle paint from PVA glue and artists acrylics painted over a textured surface or by seeing what happens when we heavily scorch different types of wood both have been widely used but can be adapted to our own style of working.

Every now a then from this experimenting we may find methods that are totally new to us.

Often using the most simple of methods and materials can achieve the most dramatic of effects.

The link here is of Holton Rower an American sculptor/Artists who's work is amazing and shows what can be achieved with simple materials and a creative mind.

Holton Rower artist video

Holton Rower Web Site

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Out there somewhere

These 3d generated creatures are the result of manipulating random shapes with a view of designing new pieces as previously mention in my blog. Using computer software is not new to me as having initially qualified as an engineer CAD, CAM were programs I used on a regular basis as were programs such as Art Cam Pro which is a vector rendering program where I could take a picture of a persons face and with the press of a few buttons and careful rendering could produce a 3d carving of the persons face as well as other projects such as a 3d vine winding around a wooden pillar as large as you like,  with detail that only a computer can produce. Some in the hand carving world will say I am wrong of course.

Also I had the facility of a 3d copier into which a small object, say a coin or piece of jewellery could be placed. The machine being started with a ultra fine stylus tapping increments of ..005 or .1 of a mm until a complete 3d model of the item which could then be rendered and sent to the 3 axis CAM router which could then produce the piece to any size in sections.

Unfortunately this software some nine years ago was nearly £4000 excluding the price of a £20,000 3 axis router, but there are other options which are much cheaper.

So all this technology begs the question why do we bother to use hand tools anymore, and can going digital make us better makers/creators.

 Firstly whether we use computers, machines or make by hand is only relevant in relation to the costs involved and the speed and enhancement of the process, it does not take over the process itself. Obviously very few of us can afford such expensive machine for business let alone for a hobby, but most of these machines are designed to save time and to work alone without a maker, with the skill being in the designing and programming.

Despite having these machines and software if the creative knowledge is not readily available from the user then no amount of money or technology will help, this I have found to be the case having worked in such an environment.

However looking at  both traditional and modern ways of working and being creative are very helpful, so these renderings are part of this process but not the end result, and just me playing around coming up with creatures that may or may not  be "Out there Somewhere".

Have a look through the ART Cam web site and look at some of the people using it and what they make. Does using such software mean they are cheating or just using their minds to creative via a different route. ?

I know what I think, and looking to the future, or technology is the route for me to go as it is a very useful tool but we still need the foundation of creativity to be able to benefit from it.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Simple form

This piece is made of Ash and measures 10 inches dia x 6 high and has been turned thin all the way through so that it will dry within the next week or so enough for me to texture and colour.

This is not my preferred wood for this kind of work as I would have normally used sycamore due to its close grain and stable structure, although ash does not cause many problems in seasoning although the grain will have to be dealt with so not to show through the final finish.

So another one on the conveyor belt that needs finishing.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


This week I had an enjoyable day teaching which is one of my favourite parts of what I do, on top of all the other very enjoyable processes I am involved in.

Apart from this I have been busy processing wood from my wood store to reduce the amount of space being taken up.

Although using green wood is a great way of saving money, as well as being a good source of wood that can be processed in the exact way I want the grain to be orientated it does take up a lot of room to store. So I have been processing large logs into hollow form blanks and square sections.

Yes this takes time and effort but on average 40% of any trunk/log will end up as waste so this means 40% less space where it is stored. Fine if you have the luxury of having a field or large industrial unit but not so good when space is short.

Also by processing a blank into the round on the band saw is much quicker than actually roughing it down to the round when it is out of balance.

This has been the content of my week so far, that and a few more minutes designing new pieces and some macro photography for reference of textures.

The pictures here are of shells I have picked up at the beech.  Some are of broken shells no larger than 10-25mm in length and have been photographed as close as possible so that I can see what normally I can not see.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Well 2011 has obviously ended and we are already racing into the new year.

2011 was a great for me in relation to my turning achievements.  The targets that I set for myself were met and surpassed and I was very fortunate to meet many great people and visit many great places both here and abroad.

Tool sales of the Revolution and other Crown Tools have grown month on month with the Revolution being received very well indeed and seems to go from strength to strength. So this year I will be expanding the tools that I offer as well as some further additions.

Consolidation of my work is also at the forefront of my target for 2012 with more work in the pipe line to get into new outlets as well as to replenish some of my current outlets with new work.

Currently I am taking a break from magazine articles as it is good to have a break not only for me but the readers as it is important I believe to have fresh article styles as well as me needing extra time to complete the writing of a book.

Also I am currently engaged in making a piece of work that I have been invited to submit to an exhibition in America, this for me so early in 2012 has to be the icing on the cake already, being invited out of the blue to submit a piece of work to such an exhibition is something that I would never have dreamt about achieving a few years ago.

So I have lots to be getting on with and as such I will generally only be posting on my blog and less within the forums as they are great time guzzlers and I need very much to be more selfish with my time in 2012. 

Of course I would not be where I am without the support and friendship of many, so am as ever thankful to those of you who continue to help me when ever I need it.