Friday, November 10, 2006

Carnival of the Creators #15

I had two blog posts featured in this month's Carnival of the Creators at Mazel Tov! Jewelry Treasures. Cyndi has featured a really interesting selection of blog posts about jewelry for breast-feeding moms, crewel embroidery, writing, corde lisse, photography and of course woodturning.

From this blog, the featured article was the one I wrote about the materials I work with for making salad bowls. The other selection was from my other blog, The ToolRest, which I write with other woodturners in mind. This is not to say that it won't be of interest to customers too, if they want to gain a fuller understanding of the practise of woodturning. In the featured post I take a look at sources of inspiration for woodturners, and how they use it.

I'm pleased to say that the Carnival of the Creators seems to be gaining momentum in it's new monthly format. If you are a blogger who writes about creativity, art, craftsmanship or similar issues, why not submit the best post you write in the next month. It's a great way to gain exposure, new readers and links. You might even want to host a future edition. It really is fun and brings even more benefits upon your blog.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

The stuff that salad bowls are made of

Big salad bowls are made from big pieces of wood. Acquiring this material is considerably more involved that driving to a wood supplier and throwing a few boards in the back of the car.

Earlier this year I purchased six big logs, a mixture of maples, yellow birch and beech. I hired someone with a tip truck to haul them to the spot in a neighbours woodlot where they were going to be sawn. I'd rather not say too much about getting the truck stuck in the mud and the resulting fun we had getting the logs off. Then we needed a tractor to lift the logs on to the brow, a raised platform that the logs are rolled along and onto the saw mill.

The big day came last Thursday when the bandsaw mill arrived. The whole operation went quite smoothly, and in a few hours I had a trailer loaded up with boards and larger sections from which I can easily cut bowl blanks.

First thing on Friday morning the wood was delivered to my yard. It was quite a good work-out unloading them, as they are still quite sizeable chunks of wood. These are the boards, some nearly two feet wide.

I don't have space indoors to store boards this long, so I have to cut most in half and trim off the ends to remove any cracks. Then the ends are sealed to prevent further splitting.

Finally I have this pile of wood which is destined to make salad bowls, some of which will be much larger than anything I have made to date. From this photograph it is difficult to appreciate the size of these pieces of wood, but it is a real challenge for me to move them on my own.

I will post more pictures as work continues to show the many steps that go into making a big bowl.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Black Ash Weedpot

black ash weedpotToday I am able to offer someone the opportunity to purchase a very unique weedpot. Essentially it is a three-sided pot, each face having its own unique texture. It is made from a most unusual piece of black ash and stands about seven inches tall.

This first picture shows the turned face on the left, and it is here that you can see the beautiful grain of black ash. This piece has several horizontal ripples in the grain to provide extra visual interest. The heartwood is lined with a thin layer of sapwood just underneath the bark.

The second side of this pot is the bark of the tree, a coarse ridged texture that is a complete contrast to the finely finished wood surface.

The final side of the pot comes from an old crack in the tree. I think this may have been made by a lightning strike, but can't be sure. No matter what caused it, the result is a calloused area with vertical lines running down along each growth ring.

This weedpot might be used to display dry grasses, but will make a fine addition to your decor or collection on its own.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Triplets II

Last year I told you all about Triplets I. Since then I have created the second in the series, pictured below. They have both received a lot of favourable feedback, both online and in person.

At first sight, many people are baffled by them, but when I rotate the individual pieces and a new pattern emerges their faces light up and they want to 'play' with the pieces themselves. They love to pick them up and examine them individually, looking at how the turned surfaces meet to create edges with quite bizarre profiles. When placed side by side, these edges often give the impression of the pieces having been wrought asunder by violent means. And when the set is arranged as shown in the picture below, viewing from one angle shows one complete pattern while choosing a viewpoint 90 degrees away shows another pattern. This art is really quite interactive, and I encourage people to re-arrange the pieces and view from whatever angle they choose. Looking down on the tops provides quite a different aspect of this work.

But for all this interest, I was beginning to wonder if they would ever sell. So I was delighted when Triplets II was sold the other day.

The very next day the postcards that I had ordered arrived from the printers. They are based on the picture above and I hope they will prove to be a useful promotional tool.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Summer Craft Market

The Pictou Weekend Craft Market has opened for the summer, and that is where you will find me every Saturday and Sunday until September 24. It is located on the Pictou waterfront in the curling club, just across from the ship Hector and is open from 10am to 5pm.

This year I have a slightly bigger booth and have set up a workbench where I can spend time between customers doing some carving. At the moment I am working on decorating a small oak bowl. It is a nice way to pass the time between customers. I'm not very good at sitting around with nothing to do.

So if you are in Pictou this summer, drop by and say hi.

My studio at Seafoam is open daily from Monday to Thursday, 10am - 5pm as a minimum. I am usually open well before 10, and sometimes stay open after 5, depending on what other chores and yard work needs doing. Fridays are bit hit and miss. This is the day I might shut up shop altogether if I have to go out, but I hope that won't happen too often and that the studio will be open as much as possible. If you want to call ahead the number is 902 351 3886 or toll free 1 888 428 3794.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Salad bowl Sunday

Salad bowls are something I only make when I have access to suitably large pieces of green wood. Unlike some of the bowls you will find in stores, these are made from one solid piece of wood. Hauling and handling the raw material is no easy matter, and not something I am really geared up to do on a regular basis. So I don't always have salad bowls for sale, and when I do they usually sell quickly from my gallery during the summer and fall. So they don't usually make it to the website.

This year I actually have some salad bowls ready early. So, for all my on-line customers I am going to make them available on this blog. It's easier to post them here than on the website. So for the next few weeks watch out for 'Salad bowl Sunday'!

Here is this week's offering:

Salad bowl
It is turned from maple and finished with walnut oil, a kitchen-safe oil which is non-toxic and easy to maintain with further applications of oil or beeswax as needed. The rim pattern has been handcarved with a gouge.

The internal dimensions of this bowl are 12.5" diameter by 4.8" deep. Externally it is 13.7" by 5.7".


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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Winter woodturning update

Yesterday was a beautiful day today here in Seafoam. The sun shone all day and the temperature soared to just above freezing. It made me wonder where the winter had gone and what I had been doing all winter.

Apart from making stock for the summer and fall seasons, winter is a time for getting odd jobs done and trying out new ideas. One job was to reorganize the lumber pile that has been sitting in the middle of the workshop since last fall. I extracted all the maple that can be used for inlaid weedpots and bits'n'bobs bowls, and cut it all up into square blocks ready for use. I also rearranged the pile so that the lumber I am most likely to need is at the top of the pile:)

Last month I took a woodcarving course at Carvers in Pictou. There were four of us and we made spirit faces. I choose to use a fairly dry piece of spalted black cherry which added a few extra challenges to the task.

My carving is the third from the left. It still has a few details to work on, but at least it looks like a face. The color or the wood, the spalting and the knots disguise some of the features, but I like it. I think it adds an air of mystery to it, perhaps suggesting that the wood spirit doesn't really want to be seen. Standing behind my carving is Keith Matheson the owner of Carvers and our instructor. I plan on doing more carving this year, so what Keith taught me will be very useful, especially how to sharpen carving tools, a quite different technique to what I use for turning tools.

One of my other experiments this winter has been with woodblock prints. I want to explore the possibilities of creating the blocks on a lathe and using multiple blocks to create abstract prints. Here is one block being turned:

So far I don't have any results worth sharing, but I am intrigued by the process and am confident I will have some prints for sale this summer. I am fascinated by the limitations that a lathe places on the art, but I am equally convinced that I can make some work worth showing.

Yesterday I turned a natural edge bowl out of yellow birch. A nice little piece with some interesting inclusions.

Today I need to finish sanding this bowl and turn the base. Then it will be left to dry for a month or so before it can be oiled and buffed. I have some more green wood in the shop that I want to work on and make a few more green bowls. There are also some big pieces in the yard waiting to be cut up and roughed out for salad bowls.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Carnival of the Creators

Welcome to the very first edition of the Carnival of the Creators, a weekly round-up of blog posts with a creative theme. Each week the carnival is hosted at a different blog and will feature blog posts by or about people who create things - artists, writers, craftspeople......

Lets start by visiting another blog carnival, Storyblogging Carnival XXXVIII, hosted this week at Tales by Sheya. Storyblogging consists of storytelling in blog format. It may be as simple as posting short stories on a blog, serialising a book, or as intricate as blogging as a fictional persona.

Next, the carnival stops at two jewelry maker's blogs. Cyndi Lavin of Mazel Tov! Jewelry gives instructions for making a freeform neckpiece on a sterling silver armature. Meanwhile, over on Indigoskye Bead Fashions, Wendy Van Camp explains the beauty and benefits of Argentium Sterling Silver.

Luann Udell gets down to business and talks about the artist's fear of having their designs copied. Her answer is to Get Ahead and Stay There.

On an equally business-like theme, Edward Winkleman blogs about the current state of collecting art. He discusses one collector who thinks that collecting is an art in it's own right. Edward believes that collectors need to spend more time getting to know artists, and that they should find new ways to open a dialog with artists. He suggests that starting a blog is one option.

For those who like to dress well, this article about the crafting of bespoke shirts is an interesting read. It is by Thomas Mahon, bespoke Savile Row tailor who writes in his blog, English Cut.

It is always interesting to read about how people find their paths in life. Xanthe has posted an article about her experiences with art as a child. Laughed at by her peers, her teacher had some words of encouragement and now Xanthe declares "I Am an Artist". She now makes books and says she has her own special way of looking at things. Elsewhere, Leslie Shelor tells us how her grandmother's spinning wheel and three rabbits helped her start her business, Greenberry House.

It's always nice to see someone using their art in aid of a good cause, especially an environmental one, so over on Acres Wild I talk about Sarah Harmer's song, Escarpment Blues.

And that is a fitting place to end, because next weeks Carnival of the Creators will be hosted at Acres Wild. If you have written or read a blog post you would like to see included, you can do so with this nomination form. I also desperately need volunteers to host forthcoming editions of the carnival on their blog. It's a great way to get links, new readers and make new friends.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

All about Derek

Many of the visitors to my studio or craft-show booth want to know what I did before I started woodturning. Now my blog readers can learn a little about me by taking a look at the lens I made about myself at

Squidoo : Derek Andrews, woodturner