Tuesday, 31 July 2012


What with it being summer holiday for six weeks and having the house full of children throwing paint, water and all other manner of messy things around my time in the workshop is limited.

However I am still developing designs in both 2d and 3d for exploring later.  The rest of my time in between this is being spent on bread and butter bowl roughing etc.

Friday, 27 July 2012


Here us another spiral that I have been working on for my wall art series. I am hoping to have these launched soon as I have to push myself to get it going.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Summer holiday.

Summer holiday is here with this being the first week of nearly seven that my daughter's have away from school. This in turn means that my work pretty much stops in the day and I turn to nocturnal working to produce the essentials.

Working from home means that I am privilege to be able to spend a lot of time with my daughters as they grow up. While we enjoy computers, games systems, television, films etc, I insist that for at least 3/4 of the day we do something outside (weather permitting) or creative inside, such as cooking or craft/painting etc. I am a hard task master. :-) 

So we have played lots of Tennis, French Cricket, Walking the dogs, as well as my passing on the little knowledge of photography I have so that Bethany and Bella can go and find interesting items of their choice to capture. Here are a few pictures taken by Bella who is 9. The only input here from me was cropping and adding of Bella's name and she is very pleased with the results and wanted me to put them on my blog. So here they are.

Friday, 20 July 2012

As previously mentioned I am supposed to be clearing out my work shop of bread and butter items but I am afraid my undisciplined mind won the day so I made this.

It is similar to one I did some time ago which I (like most of my one off pieces), I have not developed.

This one is around 8 inches high x 5 inches wide inclusive of all parts.

The base is slate which I stained black and set fire to so to reduce the new look of the stain.

The main form is oak hollowed to about 1/4inch with a bit more in the base to add stability due to the small foot. I then scorched the life out of it until it cracks, then I scorched it some more.

The top handle  (although it is not a handle, it just rests in the location slots) is black bamboo. The idea is that slowly the leaves wilt and fall off representing impermenance and other related interests.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

A bit of progression

 But recently I have been clearing out my workshop, having a move around for a new compressor and finally finishing some of the 100 seasoned pieces I have had sitting around on shelves for a long time. Some of these were previously finished but I have now decided to have a clear out. Get those pieces which are suitable to galleries and getting rid of the not so good pieces.  I have to smash them up as my friend that I send my off cuts to for his wood burner has a habit of salvaging my crap pieces for his home much to my disapproval.

In between finishing bowls etc I have been working on the piece shown in a previous post.

The main carving was finished some time ago and I have decided instead of texture it I want it to be perfectly smooth so that every part flows into the next. This has thrown up some minor problems in that I have had to make some small sanding arbours out of high density foam and old Dremel bits. But thy are working well and slowly the piece is moving towards its end. ( Probably another 6 months should see it finished as I can not dedicate the time to it at the moment).

Also I have started working on a few more sculptures using the previous offset/multi axis turning experiments. On this occasion I again cut up and glued a block before turning. However I am still not sure that this is the best way to go about it and may have to produce a few jigs for cutting it up at various stages.

 This one is in natural oak, again I am not sure where it will go except that I want it to be a smooth, sensual organic form that is as nice to touch as it is to view. Hopefully but will have to wait until I have cleared all the bowls and hollow forms.  

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Credit Crunch

Several years ago I wrote an article for British wood working magazine on Hazelbury Timber supplies which is located about 10 miles from my home. At the time the owner Paul Courage made me aware he wanted to supply local trades with good quality locally sourced native timbers at a sensible price, in stead of what he sees as excessive prices elsewhere. I do not disagree with this, everything over the last couple of years has gone up in price, all except of course wages or pensions. Never thought I would sound like my grandfather but when I started my previous career back in 1993 a litre of petrol was 43p, now it is £1.34 with a gallon of petrol now being over £6.00.

So why purchase Oak that has been transported from Europe when we can buy local. The wood trade is big money and where there is money in my opinion there is perversion. We export much of our quality timber and likewise import timbers from abroad which are then kiln dried and sold in wood supply outlets for exuberant prices. I have stopped buying seasoned blanks now for demos as for a full day demo I would be spending out up to £42 on wood alone for the projects. This excludes the finishing products, abrasive and depreciation of tools etc.

Seeing I only charge £160/day the maths just did not work out to carry on buying kiln dried wood. It is also no good buying exotic timbers as most of the gallery's and customers I supply do not want it.

Someone is getting rich and I know it is not me. But hey ho we can not do much about it so best find other ways of cutting the cloth accordingly.

Ever since I met Paul Courage at Hazelbury timber supplies I have purchased 99% of my wood from him. He still today sells excellent wood at a sensible price. I tell just about every one that I can about his business as it is the only place I can go and select a section of a tree and have it cut for me there and then (subject to how busy he is with the saw mill of course). But you can buy a whole butt and have it slabbed if you want.

As an example he sells sycamore is £12/cube (about half price to other outlets) and when you are trying to make a living running your own business you need all the help you can get.

Also available (depending on supply, and not much will be left once some of you read this) are off cuts. These he has recently started doing and as an example  I purchase a beautiful piece of Olive Ash 3 inches thick x 16 inch long x 14 inch wide and a lovely piece of spalted sycamore of the same size for £3 each.

The wood in this picture cost me £30 in total with the 5 x 5 inch by 3 ft long oak off cut you see costing me £5.

Form this I have produced 16 assorted bowls from 6 inches to 14 inches 6 hollow forms and still have 3 x large ash logs which I could make another 20 hollow forms from of 5 inch x 7. 

Paul cuts and sticks the wood and a lot if  freshly cut to part seasoned as it is stored under shelter, so is great for roughing out. Any way it may be a trip for you but a few friendly turners and a transit van could have a field day. It really is a gold mine and he has a nice selection of burrs.

Yew, sycamore, oak, beech, birch, cedar, and many more native timbers stocked. I have no commercial connection with Paul, just he saves me money and is a great bloke to deal with so I thought I would let you know about his business again.

 A minute selection

Paul cutting up an ash tree for me. I was after normal wood with the pith aligned but he let me have the crotch he is cutting off for a couple of £'s as he said it would only go for fire wood. 

Olive ash slabe purchased for £3 ( this is not a special price for me this is what he does them for), you can see the size next to my car wheel. 

This little load cost me £30 together with the Oak 5 x 5 which is not shown. Oh he chucked in the Acacia burr for a couple of £'s too.  Ash, spalted Alder, sycamore slabs.

The bowl at the top of the page is a cereal bowl that I have turned for myself out of brown oak collected from Paul's (which is not in the picture) as I snaffled it on the way out. Over the years we have broken more bowls and plates in our family than I care to remember and I am fed up of buying them. So I am changing to wooden plates and bowls for every day use. It is worth noting that Paul does not currently have card facilities at his saw mill.

Sunday, 8 July 2012


 Recently I have decided to reduce the amount of demonstrations I attend. This is due to family commitments and a change in working set up. 

Evening demonstrations will from 2013 will be attended if only within 50 miles radius of Gillingham of and full day demos within 100, with the total number of demonstration through out the year being greatly reduced .

When I left my last career it was due to me wanting to spend time with my family and to pursue a vocation in wood. Recently I have been asked to attend more and more full day and evening demos which is wonderful, but I have found that I am spending too much time away from home and less with my family and even less developing my work. 

The amount of making time I get in the workshop producing gallery and commission work has slowly been reduced, as such I have decided to get back to basics, spend more time with my family and persue/devolpe ideas that had been on hold for the last year or so.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The first finished, well almost.

Here are a few pictures of the sculpture that I have been working on as in the previous post. The base is not necessarily the final option as I am not sure where to go with this part at the moment. For the time being it will sit on the current base until I make a final decision.

The process went rather more smoothly than anticipated. It was my intention from the start to use the lathe as a part process for the making of sculptures that are not in the round. I am pleased with the result on a whole but have a few parts I want to build upon and develop.

It was turned through six axis using various work holding methods, cut, carved, finished, coloured with auto motive spray with the addition of a blck pebble found at the beech. The base is simply an un-finished piece of oak sprayed again with automotive spray.

It measure 8 inches in length x 4 inches wide future ones will become larger and will be made from finished oak and other woods as well as other materials.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

New Work

Having not posted any physical work for some time I thought I would show a prototype of some new sculptural/turned work that I have had rattling around in my mind for the last few months.

After visiting the Needles at the Isle of Wight and  seeing the rock formations and dramatic shapes within them I started thinking about how I could integrate this into my sculptural work. Often I keep things in my head while I muse over them for many months.

Having mind in which I can visualise a piece right down to the finest of detail, I now rarely sketch ideas as I can not record with a pencil what I have in my mind. I have found in the past that having a drawing can restrict me in trying to stick to it so I prefer working in the moment and just let pieces develop.

The picture here is of a small piece being made to test the techniques and methods needed to actually produce a piece physically. I often find this is the more challenging part of the process as I never worry or consider how I am going to make something while I consider the initial idea, this I also find restricts me greatly. After all if I am worried about how I am going to make something then often I will pull back my ideas to accommodate my technical ability, and this is too restrictive for the way I like to work.

The piece was turned from 4 x 4 building pine multi, carved and sprayed white so that I can concentrate on the form and not the grain. There is a lot of work to do before it is mounted on a plinth of some type. But so far it is working out better than I anticipated.

More pictures to come as it progresses.