Wednesday, 31 October 2012


It is a busy time at the moment and I am not getting a great deal of time to spend in long sessions of making, rather fleeting from one project to another depending upon the deadline seems to be the order of the day.Currently I am getting ready for two days at Strictly Woodturning, followed by an all day demo the very next day, so it is a case of preparing in advance so that when I get home on Friday evening I can unload what I do not need, sharpen the tools and re-pack for a long journey to Garden of England Woodturners the next day.

Added to this I have teaching, commissions and projects in the background plus other work that I keep juggling and moving around. The workload seems to get busier and busier, the more I travel the more comes back in return and I get more enquiries.

Since coming back from Australia I have received another invite to go abroad to a very exciting event indeed but one I will discuss later.

Having two young children who are growing up fast makes me very conscious of my role at home within the family unit which is central to our home set up, but  at times we have to go where the work is and I am very privileged to receive more invites from abroad to get involved in some very exciting projects. It is great fun, but there is flip side to everything and one I am conscious of balancing with my family.

A bit of progress on the three pieces I finished on the lathe a short while ago has been achieved. Initially I textured the taller form with the same over its entire surface as previously shown. However this was too' clean' for my current liking and I wanted to get into a heavily textured/decaying surface, so I have added a second texture while leaving remnants of the first.

The other two forms have been textured with a base colour added, they are however are still very much in the beginning stages and I will think about how to continue with them shortly, I may add acrylic paints/sprays, metal foils, and or other materials many of which I add to my pieces but I want to try a different approach on a couple of the pieces to try out some new materials and methods.

The picture is poor due to the lighting in my workshop and I only have time to snap a quick representation without setting up my lighting. However more pictures will be posted of much better quality as they progress.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Friday, 26 October 2012


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Bit of development and get around to finishing some more.

One of my favourite pastimes is procrastination, luckily however, having to pay bills with what I earn from working with wood means that I can not totally lose myself in new designs, ideas etc. 

Often I become bored of an idea as another pops into my head, so I start a the new project, I enjoy this way of working, it is a rubbish method from a commercial point of view, but hey, all work and no play as they say. I am of course very fortunate as I believe that actually I don't work, as I do indeed play everyday making things I want to make. ( Most of the time anyhow).

While this is a beautiful way to live compared to the treadmill routine of my last career, it can if I do not have deadlines to meet mean I can become very unproductive whiling the hours away with my sketchbook, camera and the concocting of new ideas. 

My teaching, demonstrating however seems to go from strength to strength as are commissions so at the moment the balance is on the right side of the line, just. !

Anyway I am starting to get a body of work together for an exhibition and have set myself a target of 15-20 pieces, ( other than bowls, bread and butter items which I continue to make). 

Some of the forms I am finally finishing. Tried to finish them a while ago but gave up as my interests were in other work. 

Sycamore form. 

The same form as at the top of the page and above, except as you can see it has been textured ready for colouring. 

Although it probably does not look as if much work has been done to this piece since it's last posting I have spent another 2-3 hours refining with the finishing/sanding process now having been started. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Playing with fractals

I have read in relation to being creative that the things we do as play should actually be what we do in our work all the time. The restrictions of 'I have to get this done' more often than not stifles our creative side and keeps us in the safe zone. After all being safe is something we are at ease with.

So part of my play as I have posted before is computer generated graphics using various softwares.

One of my favourites past times is playing with fractals, the outcome due to inputting various numbers often results in an outcome not intended, and therefore is totally free from self imposed restrictions.  Over time I have been able to gain enough knowledge to have some control over the outcome but not full, hopefully I never will as the excitement of coming up with something totally unique is the most enjoyable part.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Yandle's demo

This evening I will be at Yandles woodturning club for a demo, with the theme being how to utilise branch wood.

These are a couple of pieces I have prepared this morning ready for the demo. The top one is a thin walled wing bowl, made from Holme Oak. really not as difficult as people will have you think they are.

Below a small for hollowed with a spindle gouge, again not complex. Both projects are a good foundation for development as I will show in a future thread over the next week or so.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

South West Australia, Collaboration

A month or so ago I spoke about having been invited to a collaboration in Bunbury, near Perth Australia.

Pictures speak a thousand words so I will endeavour to keep the text in this thread to a minimum by posting as many as possible, however those of you who know me will understand that for me keeping things short, is a task in itself.

This thread is pic heavy as in total I took over 700 pictures and have been given others to show with kind permission by the makers, here I have included a selection.

Please note that the designs seen within these pictures are shown with kind permission of the original makers, this however does not assign the intellectual property of the the designs or photographs to the viewer in any way and remain fully that of the original maker named or not.

Firstly I would like to say thank you to all in Australia that I met, many new friends have been made, many laughs and discussions held, chilled beers drunk and ideas shared.

A special thank you to Robert Jones, (Chairman), Chris Smith (Vice Chairman) and Alison Smith, who kindly looked after me and showed me the sights during my stay, and by whom the initial invite was offered.  Nancy Launer (Secretary) who took me under their wing and made my stay even the more enjoyable, and thank you to all the other delegates, some of whom partook in the Internationals versus Australia Pool championship in the evenings as we relaxed and chewed the cud. Graeme Priddle and myself gave a good account of ourselves however the Australians did win the competition in the end. Just. !!!

The 2012 Collaboration was a special event as it celebrated the life and work of Gordon M,Ward 1937-2012, one of the founding members and influence behind the SW Australia Collaboration. Gordon Ward's work has been an inspiration to many including me over the years.

The WA Collaboration is held every two years and involves the getting together of many creative makers from various fields in wood, such as carving, turning, sculpting to name a few, the sole aim is that of sharing techniques and ideas openly with each other to further knowledge and the profile of the various crafts.
Details of the collaboration can be viewed on the web site link previously included above.

It is a misconception that the only value when learning to be creative is the practical aspect of making itself, just talking can be just as a powerful medium of exploration, by listening to others and how they work is of great value and I benefited greatly from the experience.

Sunday 30th September

On the morning of Sunday the 30th of September I left my home and took the short trip to Gillingham train station, boarded the train to Woking where on arriving I disembarked to a waiting coach for the next part of the journey to Heathrow, terminal 3. Such a simple stress free and far more economical journey than going by car.

Sitting on the 747 plane I tried to get as comfortable as someone being 6ft 1 can in economy class, I had numerous books, a well stocked MP3 player and the in flight entertainment system, so all was well to keep me busy on the 12 hr flight to Changi Airport, Singapore.

On arriving, rather weary, I was met with the site of a very luxurious airport, I have visited quite a few but Changi was very interesting with all sorts of food areas to suit taste from all over the world.

Here are a few pics from Changi that I snapped while waiting 10 hrs for the transfer flight. 

These guys were at the top of some Ficus trees around 20 foot up in a cherry picker cleaning dusting the leaves.

Changi at night

0115 hrs the following morning I was back on the plane for another 5-6 hour flight to Perth. An hour before landing the captain made his announcement and I woke, looked out of the window I was greeted by this amazing site.

It was a surreal feeling in that I had left my career in the Police only six years prior in order pursue a more relaxed life working in wood, a decision that was full of fear in making the decision to step away from the security and comfort of a regular wage, now to be within an hour landing in Australia for a wood collaboration with many of the best in the world in their field. 

The view was beautiful to say the least.

On landing I, went straight to customs to declare the wood items I had in my bags, they were checked with no problems and I was allowed to proceed with them.  A short time after I was met by Chris and Alison Smith who drove me to their home in Gosnells,  Perth. 

Sparrows and finches are the norm in my garden and while these are beautiful I was met by the sight of this parakeet on the feeder in Chris's back garden. Here are a few pictures of birds I saw during my stay.
It was quite enjoyable sipping chilled Aussie beer on Chris's veranda while watching the birds feed.

Some more of the wild life I was privileged to see.

The next day after settling in.

The next day Chris, Alison and myself (I was sleeping most of the way), took a two hour trip to the collaboration at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar school, our home for the next four days. The first picture below is the accommodation, we also had full access to the design and technology wing/workshops as well as a common room and canteen where the staff fed us with great food.

The workshop where we worked during the four days.

The basis for the collaboration is that we all worked on various pieces that had been left over from previous collaborations, or started a new. Once we had completed our work on the piece we signed it and placed it back onto the table for further work by others, or simply pass it on to whoever was interested in working further on it. Once the piece had been past on 'let go' then the next maker could do whatever they wanted with it, so we had to let go of our 'attachment' to the piece.

Once completed each maker involved would sign the piece so that it could be auctioned on the last day. The proceeds of which go to the next collaboration. 

First it was registration and a show and tell, we had under two minutes to describe the piece we had brought along. A great ice breaker.

Some pics of the many pieces in the show and tell. Please note I have tried to include the names of makers where possible, but apologies, due to my forgetful nature I have not been able to credit all. 

Stephen Hughes suspended form. 

Animal carvings by Stephanie Ryan, Seed pod by Stephanie, inspired by Jack De-Vose

work by Chris Smith , Chris Gray, Bob Filby, Doug McDiarmid

Box by Ken Wraight (centre of picture), Dough McDiarmid (Right)

Human form carved form in Ply by Greg Lawrence

Robert Jones potpourri bowl incorporating laser cut inserts by Stephen Hughes

This is just a minute selection of the inspiring work on display. 

All great events have great people who work tirelessly in the background to make sure everything runs smoothly. Well Nancy Launer is such a person. Nancy as well as organising the admin side of things also took pictures,  film footage of the event throughout the four days, to name a few jobs covered by her. 

I took to Nancy right away due to her warm, kind personality and fab home cooked biscuits. :-)  

Then it was onto the work where we all mixed in and started on various pieces. Here is a small selection of the pics taken during the four days of work.

 Supply of wood to start new pieces with. 

Selection of work started at a prior collaboration for working on by any one.

Jack De-Vose piece 

Rob Jones working on some of his pieces.

ONe of Robert Jones's potpourri bowls, they are stunning, never seen potpourri bowls like them.

A part finished collaboration between myself and Bob Filby/carver/artists and Rob Jones. 

The jet lag starting to get to me.

Collaboration between myself and Robert Jones.

Derek Pollard, one of those people that always smiles and makes no matter what he is doing. 

some of Doug's work, note even the fruit is creative in Oz.

Ken Wraight, a brilliant guy, good laugh and one of the many I will be staying in contact with. 

Ken's work I describe as engineering in wood and is both amazing and beautiful. 

Some of Ken's work. 

Carriage featured previously in the AAW magazine.

To give you an idea of his skill the finials are turned to less than .5 mm in some places, he uses a special wood that is not brittle, this allows him to make such fine pieces.

From Ken's 'Tie Fighter' series

Graeme Priddle took the air tool outside so he could soak up the sun. After all it was only 29 deg's, it was hell.

Graham Lewis Collaborating with Robin Campbell

Chris Gray doing some detail work.

Jack De-Vose during a tea break.

Warwick Backhouse carving one of his signature leaf's.

also worked on/collaborated with Graham Priddle.

 Kerrie Bear, teaches children woodworking. 

Chris Smith ( Hagrid), Alison Smith,  working on a collab with Stephanie Ryan

Chris Smith, Alison Smith and Stephanie Ryan

Stephen Hughes and Doug McDiarmid

 Michael Lake working on one of his insect forms

Dennis Haddon 

Stephanie roughing out a carving

Greg Lawrence and Charles Broadbent studying the female form !


Greg applying gold leaf to his sculpture.

Rob Jones and Douglas Bell

Alison Smith and Kevin Luff swapping thoughts.

Alison Smith finishing off a piece.

Jeanette Rein with Kevin Luff

Dan Killgallon right, was the speaker that kept us in order (drank lots of tea ;-). Douglas Bell working on one of his beautiful pieces

One of Dan's pieces

Neil Turner 

Liz Mann who produces the most delicate of inlay work working on a piece. 

Collaboration wall hanging 

At the start of the four days we were given a small piece of wood each, around 100mm x 70mm in size. The task being to produce a small individual piece which could be displayed on a mounting with the work of all the members. 

This was my piece that I titled 'Eye of Nature' 
It was produced by scorching the base, using a piece of bark and a seed pod that I found out the back of the classroom. Gold paint added to the inside of the pod, a glass marble added and all glued in place. 

Here are the other works displayed awaiting framing. 

Lucky Dip
Part of attendance was to bring a piece of work wrapped for a lucky dip that took place on the second evening in the common room. No one knew what they were to receive as it was just a case of sticking your hand in the box and pulling out a parcel. 
A great idea. 
I received a beautiful Eucalyptus burl bowl turned by Douglas Bell
Nancy admiring  beaut of a platter with Jack De-Vose
Jeanette Rein took home one of my offset lidded forms
A small selection of pieces received by people, during the dip. 

These two mountings are from two previous collaborations and are displayed in the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery

 Neil Turner,  one of the members of the collaboration, a very creative and well known turner and furniture maker in Australia invited me back to his home, a ten acre holding he shares with his wife, Suellen. Their home is nestled amongst trees next to a golf course (yes it was a beautiful place with a large on sight workshop). I had promised my daughter's that I would get them some pictures of Kangaroo's and Neil told me there were a few near his home. The roo's were very tame and could be walked up to, (although I kept a bit if a distance ), some of the golfer's playing on the course had to poked them gently with the handle of their putting irons to get them off of the green. :-) 

This one was chilling out in the sun.

These two youngsters were learning how to box.

This was just plain beautiful to see, a mother and joey.

All rest and no play plus building diplomatic relations

We had during the evenings the use of a large common room where we would all meet, relax and chat about the days work over a few glasses of wine or chilled beers. 

It was decided that Graeme and myself being the only internationals would take on the power of Australian pool. This turned into a full scale competition of around twenty games over several nights. 

Here are a few pictures of the hilarious side splitting time we had.

Frank (8Ball) Evans, the biggest bandit of the pool table I have ever met, and hilarious taboot.

Hard to get Frank (8Ball) Evans off the table due to his awesome potting power.

Evening visit to Bunbury Regional galleries

Bunbury Regional art gallery supports the SW Collaboration by holding an exhibition of works produced by the members.  We all attended to view the work and sample a light dinner and drinks provided by the gallery.  Also exhibiting at the gallery were various other artists covering various media.

All copyright of design and picture remains the property of each maker and pictures taken with kind permission.

Chris Gray

Matt Dickman

Richard Barkman

Greg Lawrence

Neil Turner

Neil Turner, Chris Smith (front right).

Chris Smith

Neil Scobie ( back), Andrew Potocnik (front left), Jack De-Vose ( front right).

Jack De-Vose ( close up of front right).

Graeme Priddle ( back), Andrew Potocnik (left and front).

 Simon James

 Alan Burdett

Tony Davis

Robert Jones (Potpourri bowls), incorporating laser cut inserts by Stephen Hughes !, Beautiful.

Jeanette Rein

Nik Sergeev

Liz Mann

Simon James

Jeanette Rein. 
This was an installation at a nearby hospital not far from the gallery. In Australia a percentage of the building cost for public buildings is put aside for the inclusion of artwork by local artists. My poor photography in no way shows them off to their full. Take a look at Jeanette's web site here for much better pictures.

The day following on from the gallery visit it was back into the workshop for finishing of pieces and cleaning up and a final chat about how the four days had gone. 

Then is was off to the auction to which various people had been invited to view and potentially purchase pieces made during the collaboration. The proceeds of which go to the following collaboration.

An initial look to see what was available. 

Robert Jones and Frank ( 8 Ball) Evans, get the auction underway.

It was a very successful day and a great deal of money was raised for the next collaboration.

We all then emptied out rooms and made the trip back home. 

For me it was to go back with Chris and Alison Smith's to get ready for a day off and a demo together with Graeme Priddle on the Monday. 

So Sunday I went shopping for presents to take home. 

Pictures of the demo the following day at in Chris's workshop. Where I was privileged to turn some of the most difficult, gnarly  hard headed, stubborn bloody wood on the planet, :-). Apparently though by Ozzie standards it was soft, by our's it was like concrete.

Hard gnarly Mulberry on the left was amusing to turn and I had a good laugh in the process.

Then it was Graeme Priddles turn. It was a privilege to watch him and draw from his inspiring demo which is one of the best and most valued I have ever watched. In short he is a genius in what he does. 

Graeme wanted everyone to get involved so we gathered round to watch him working close up. 

Then it was a BBQ in true Aussie style a few beers and to bed, getting up early for a final look around the Perth area. 

With a visit to Canning dam, which at the time was only 33% full. 

The view around the waters edge, normally well below water level looked like the surface of a distant planet. ( not that I have been to a distant planet, but have watched a few films :-) . 

An Aussie toilet, which well, went into the bush. I am sure if you kept walking you would find a proper toilet, but there wasn't one that I could see.

The a trip back down to pick up my suitcases and make my way to the airport. 

A view of Perth from the hillside.

Perth Airport

 On the way down in the car Chris stopped as this small snake was slithering across the road. It wasn't very big but apparently if it bit me I would not have lasted very long. The smaller the snakes the more poisonous, it even at one point stopped and raised it's head at the car, big balls for a little snake, but then it knows it packs a punch.

To all the great new friends I have made, to Chris and Alison Smith, Robert Jones, Nancy Launer and all those that shared your time and hospitality with me, thank you is an inadequate word to explain how much it all meant to me. 

What a great country. 

Now being a member of the collaboration I will be back in a couple of years. 

Happy days. 

Friends, until next time.