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.

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