Thursday, October 23, 2003

World Rainforest Week

Continuing my search for information I have found a few websites worthy of note. has a whole section on forests and forest destruction. Not only does this site have a good directory of relevant websites, but also a sidebar full of links to current news items.

The Rainforest Action Network website is a valuable source of information. And did you know that this is World Rainforest Week? This year they are focussing on Indonesia and encouraging a young persons letter writing campaign against Georgia Pacific.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Working with exotic woods - a dilemma

Most of the wood used in my shop was grown in Nova Scotia, and some from elsewhere in North America. A very small percentage though are exotic species, mainly from South/Central America and Africa. It is this last category that causes me some misgivings. Whilst it is very pretty wood, and very popular with customers, I do wonder what impact my use of this wood is having on the forests where it grows.

Some say that properly harvested woods help save the forest because it makes the local people see the value of the wood and leads to sustainable management practices. Surely this is better than burning the forests to make way for agriculture, which the local soil can only sustain for a few years. Also I have read in the past that large quantities of these timbers are used for low-grade applications such as construction (often for shuttering which is later discarded) and pallets, so does my contibution metter? Getting a balanced picture of the situation is not easy, but I think it is reasonable to conclude that rainforests are becoming seriously depleted.

Over the next few days I plan to investigate some of these issues, but in the meantime you can help save the rainforest by visiting The Rainforest Site and clicking the Save Our Rainforests button. Sign up for their daily email reminder service by following the Remember to Click link.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Why is this bowl so expensive?

That question was asked of me today about a very nice bowl that I took to the craftshow. One of the biggest hurdles many craftspeople face in their marketing is educating the public about the value of their work.

I must say straight away that this piece was turned from a very unique piece of wood, in that the branch had made a complete U-turn as it grew. This has resulted in some interesting figure and a bark inclusion right into the center of the bowl. This was one of those pieces of wood that are difficult to mount on the lathe, and not without risk once it starts spinning due the 'defects' hidden within.

The natural edge around the rim of the bowl not only adds to the interest of the piece, but also requires considerable skill to turn. As the wood spins on the lathe, the handheld tool is alternately cutting wood then air, making it want to bounce around. Much skill is needed to overcome this and ensure that the tool doesn't jam in the wood. This is most definitely workmanship of risk, and a moments inattention can lead to the work being totally ruined, or worse.

Then there was the skill that went into identifying the unique features of the piece of wood, designing a form to suit these features and then working skillfully to overcome the challenges that woods of character often present. This bowl is most definitely a one-of-a-kind piece of art that took a lot of skill to make. In my opinion it is worth every penny I am asking for it. Until the day that a customer agrees with my opinion, I am quite happy to keep this piece in my studio to admire myself and as a talking point for visitors. It certainly drew many admiring comments today.

Friday, October 17, 2003

A windfall

Hurricane Juan left a trail of detruction in its wake as it passed over Nova Scotia. One casualty was the arboretum at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.

A friend of mine who used to work there was kind enough to salvage some Honey Locust for me. The lumber looks quite interesting, and I am looking forward to being able to turn it. According to my Textbook of Wood Technology, "it has many desirable qualities such as attractive figure and color, strength, and hardness but is little used because of its scarcity". One of its traditioanl uses was for wagon wheels.

testing email delivery

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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Salt and vinegar?

The chips have been flying in the shop today as I try to turn dibbers. I say 'try' because the power has been a bit iffy due to the high winds. Its not easy when the lathe keeps stopping and starting. I guess I should get some practise on a pole lathe.