Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Finishing day

Today up until school collecting time was spent finishing various pieces to get them ready for my scribble to go on the bottom.

John's previous comments about me not sleeping due to the work I do got me thinking about the work I do an how much people may or may not think I get through in a day ( when I decide to get stuck in so to speak).  This of course on top of getting up at 0630, sorting the dogs and cats out, feeding the children, getting pack lunches ready, breakfast in bed for my good lady, then sort the house out followed by school pick up time and coocking the dinner. ( My wife Liz works full time much harder than I do so working from home suits us both).

As previously mentioned I have to get some bread and butter work finished for various outlets so today was finishing the items I had turned yesterday plus finish a few more.

No, not all of these items have been turned from scratch, but have been finished today. 

The three bowls, back left,  were finished from yesterday, oiled, buffed etc with the bowls on the right hand side and the hollow forms requiring only the bases to be finished with abrasive as they had been turned in batches with the spigots needing removing and finished, then a few coats of sealer and the whole of the forms buffed.

It looks a lot but finishing the base of a bowl does not take long around 5 - 10 mins followed by buffing. 

 So in all twelve forms finished with the three hollow forms waiting for lids and finials. I also managing to progress the maple bowl that I started yesterday as shown below with the cut out and  hole now removed.

Next is the time consuming process of finishing the cut outs to a high finish with abrasive followed by colouring and turning a sphere.

See George I can work when I want to :-).

Monday, 23 April 2012


Thin wall vessels I rarely make, but as I have mentioned before in my blog I am rather eclectic at best with how I work.

Recently I have returned to them as a form of release and meditation when I want time out. I do not turn them for the sole purpose of seeing how "thin" I can go, although this is the end result it is not the aim. The aim is to become lost in the "here and now" to the exclusion off all else other than the cut.

Wood turning is great for this and has many similarities to Aikido and Zen that I have studied but now do not have as much time to give to these disciplines due to being self employed with a young family, which I hasten to add is in no way a chore, just a reality. However Zen and woodturning are actually closely connected

When I started turning I did not see the depth and benefit of the process other  than producing a nice item to show to my loved ones and for self indulgent praise, which we of course all naturally and rightly enjoy.

Over the years having studied Zen and through continued talks with my teacher I soon became to realise how they are similar in many aspects. As it is with any discipline or task that we take to a refined level of skill.

Speak to any top level sports person or formula one driver and they will tell you how important sports psychology is and the single focus of the mind within this.

Whether we call it Zen, "working in the here and now" or sports psychology and "The single focus" the two derived simply from different cultural visions of the same.

Often it is difficult for us in the west to grasp this unless we can understand it from a personal practical application, if not it is often discounted as a spiritual form of brain washing which we steer clear of. This is a great shame as our mind is the most powerful tool we have, as it can also be the most efficient adversary if not tamed. 

Climb a three stage ladder or take the time when we discover in the depths of winter that the dark patch just before the bend we are approaching, is in fact black ice, and we can start to understand the focusing of the mind to the exclusion of all else.

From a personal perspective I try to work this way in all of the processes of my work, from the initial stages when I am out looking at mundane items to incorporate in a new piece, the turning of the main form, the hours of pyrography  to the final stages of applying the finish.

As for me I am not convinced that I can produce the best work I can if I am not totally absorbed in its making through-out, or it would be for me be a simple process of repeat manufacturing.

One of my favourite books helping to explain this is Zen in the art of archery being an interesting book written by a western/German professor of phsycology that studied Japanese Archery,  and shows that through single mindedness and repetition we can train the way in which we are able to repeat a process to a level of perfection. A powerful tool for sports people and makers such as turners, potters etc. But it is a book that must be read and practically applied to gain anything of the subject.

This piece I turned yesterday while the roast dinner was sitting in the oven ( which my wife was kindly cooking for me) is turned from Maple 125mm dia x 75mm high x .75 mm wall thickness.

It is sat on a piece of slate that I had under my work bench to add a simple contrast of material, colour and texture. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

Yandles and Wealdon Woodturners

Last weekend I was demonstrating at Yandle show, Martock, it is my favourite show as I get to meet up with many friends and hopefully make some more, as well the ever important networking.

Anyway here are some rather late pics.

The below pieces were turned by Dave Appleby

Then Sunday was a 3 hr drive to Wealdon woodturners in Kent which was a great day.

a few pictures started at

0500 hrs

0520 Salisbury Plain, what a sun rise. 

Upon arriving I was very privileged to meet the members and it was great to see that one of my magazine articles had inspired a member Sandra Day,  to make her own version of the Japanese tea box. It was only the first time that Sandra had attempted end grain hollowing I believe,  wow what a result. Great work Sandra and thank you for sharing.

Then I met John Turner for the second time after meeting him at Yandles a few days before. 
John has a large Wadkin lathe and like to turn, well large pieces. 
Here is one of his latest pieces with one of mine being held on top by another member. 

Hell of a piece of wood to turn but I wonder how many bags of shaving John must have filled.

Thank you all for a great day and pub lunch.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Contemporary prints

It is a busy time for me, but I wanted to let you know about some contemporary prints that I have been developing in the background, having been mentioned here before.

These prints will soon be available by ordering direct from here and from outlets of which details will follow.

Hopefully I will get time to update the other bits and pieces I have been up to lately.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Art Student

Today I was teaching Toby who is currently studying Model Making at Arts University College Bournemouth. With part of his project being the making of a sculptural pod form he has designed to be turned from wood. To this Toby will be including metal together with other materials to produce a kinetic sculpture.

This is the third time Toby has come to me for tuition but today was a bit different in that Toby wanted to cover specifics for tooling, finishing and discussions together about design relating to his sculpture.

It is very rewarding to see a young person carrying on with turning but also using it as a part process for sculpture.

Here are a few pictures of Toby roughing down the basic form for his piece, which is one of the four or five parts that will be included in the end sculpture.

Firstly hollowing end grain was refreshed. 

As was the spindle gouge

 Then onto his piece.


Hopefully I will get to see the end sculpture when it is finished.


A quick update to see how many people will be attending Yandles Show Martock This coming Friday and Saturday. If you are come and say hello.

I know y ou are going George as you are kindly lending me your lathe. :-) Thanks mate.

So it is teaching today and getting ready for the show on Thursday. 

Hopefuly the weather will be kind.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Isle of Wight

Last weekend I attended Wight Wood Turners for an all day demo. Not having been to the island for over 30 years it was decided to go for a long weekend as a family, So Liz booked us The Beach Retreat and we left for the ferry at Lymington arriving there in good time to make it to the Beach Retreat to watch the sun setting over the Solent, with the beach being only a short distance away across a small field.

There is something beautiful and magical watching the sun set here are some pictures taken on two of the evenings.


 Here are a few of the neighbours.

Wading birds were also regular visitors.

My daughters taking in the view, all of the entertainment had to be self generated as there was only solar powered electricity for the lights with the heating being provided via a wood-burning stove, no phone, no computer, no television ,  it was heaven to say the least.

 So in the evenings it was a short walk to the beach with refreshments in hand, drift wood was collected and I showed Liz and my daughters how to build a fire, sausages were cooked on a BBQ, and we spent the evening watching the sun set and the boats go by.

Then after the first evening it was up and away for the demo at Wight Woodturners.

Thank you to Michael Graves, chairman, and to all the members for a warm welcome and a great day. The below pictures were kindly taken by David Woodford, copyright remains that of David Woodward and are used with kind permission.

Refining the top curve.

Finishing cuts with the traditional grind.

 Hollowing with the spindle gouge.

Finishing the base.

After a wonderful day and on returning to the retreat we all headed for the beech again for another BBQ.

The following day was a chance to have a look around the Island, so first off was a visit to Arreton Village
which is 1000 yrs old , has a 12 century church and barns that are full of craft makers/artisans working in glass, ceramics and woodcarving.

Wood carving of George and the Dragon.

Bethany standing next to an old anchor outside of a maritime museum.

Spring is certainly here.

Then it was onto the model village a short drive away.The models are amazing and well worth a visit.

The following pictures are of the bark of a tree within the grounds, the textures were amazing.

After a great day it was back to the Retreat to relax with another fire with my family and to watch the sun setting again, something that I never get bored of, 

Early morning mist.

Then it was off for a full English at a waterside cafe in Gurnard and a last chance to take in the view and relaxed atmosphere.

Then finally on route to the ferry we stopped at the Needles and took a trip on the chair lift to the beach to take some pictures of the view and to look at the amazing colourful rock formations within the cliffs. 

Then back up the cliffs and to the port.

And after a short trip on the ferry it was back to the main land and home.