woodbowlsandthings

May 20, 2017

Inspiration is where you find it

I am lucky that I seem to be able to find inspiration for my art everywhere I look but lately I have been trying to use nature’s beauty to embellish my work. It all started last fall while I was exchanging some pieces with the Kizmit Gallery in Fort Langley I noticed that there were some fabric scarves on which an artist (whose name slipped my mind) was using leaves and flowers to enhance her pieces. I was so impressed that I wondered why no one in my art space was doing the same thing. And so it began. I immediately started experimenting with methods to transfer vegetation patterns to wood.
I was lucky enough to have been given quite a large quantity of Silver Maple that for the most part is very light in color and has little character. This of course means I get to add my own embellishment.
Fall in BC provides a multitude of natural color options and I began by trying to ‘pound’ leaves from a small maple tree onto some of my work with limited success. Firstly, the wood I was using was not as light as I would like but non-the-less I was encouraged that I was able to get some crude patterns and colors onto a few pieces.
Recently I have made some inroads and am becoming, at least in my mind, a little bit better at getting a reasonable likeness onto wood.


I use a multitude of aids, mostly various types of paper, from wax to paper bags both brown and white, copy paper and paper towels depending on how ‘damp’ the petal is. Sometimes I get a better transfer to the paper than I do to the wood. I’m sure I haven’t exhausted all paper options but for now I seem able to get a reasonable transfer.
I use a small hammer I purchased from Lee Valley which I believe is Japanese and has on one end a slightly semi-rounded face, which seems to work about the best for me. I have tried tapping and rubbing with steel ball bearings of various sizes, rubbing with a short section of smooth drill rod and I continue to experiment.
Here is a shot of the items that I am currently experimenting with.

The process begins by turning a piece of wood with little color and grain. I think a cup or vase shape works best. I have found that if I leave the hollowing for later it is easier for me to do the transferring on a mostly solid piece of wood. I did discover that the surface that works best for me is one that is convex. I generally sand to about 800 but have had some success with 400 as well. After my recent experiments where I tested on wood from straight from a skew to 600 grit I believe better detail is achieved on the more highly sanded wood.
Next I choose a flower petal or petals, so far, Pansies have worked the best particularly dark ones with lighter highlights.

The process is fairly simple, I place the petal or petal cluster on the object where I think it will look the best. If care is taken a small piece of masking tape on a stem might secure the petal. I then carefully cover it with whichever paper I have chosen, wrapping it around the piece and holding the ends of the paper tightly with my fingers without any wrinkles. Masking tape might work to hold the paper here as well.

Now comes the difficulty/exciting part. With the small hammer or other tool, gently tap tap tap the petal trying not to pound too hard while still tapping all parts of the flower. It is easy to pound too hard and wind up with a sort of mushy mess. In the end, the petal or flower part is stuck to the turning and I gently pick it off with a pair of fine tweezers.

Sometimes it doesn’t all come away cleanly, in those cases I don’t scrape it with the tweezers I just leave it to dry and then gently rub it off with a finger or paper towel.

I would still like to be able to add leaves etc. but to date have had little success. I think this is mainly because leaves are too moist. I am presently experimenting with drying them a little in a microwave or just letting them sit for a while before using them but with little success.

If you decide to try this technique please let me know about your successes and failures.

A good way to test this process is to turn a cylinder of the same or a similar wood to that on which you want to transfer and do tests on it. Take notes and then you can later refer to this sampler.

It is quite easy to re-sand and start over and I’m certain that you will have quite a few failures. Keep notes with details such as time of year what wood and which paper you used especially for the times when you are able to get it just right.

Here is a shot of the ‘aftermath’ of my experiments yesterday. I did get some good results and after I let out Pansies produce few more flowers I will be ‘imprinting’ on a few more pieces.

Incidentally, last fall I discovered that I had to hit the item a lot harder to get it to transfer than I am doing this spring. I suppose the colors have set or at least have lost some of their moisture.

 

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April 17, 2017

Gravenstein Apple Wood

A few days ago my wife pointed out that someone in our small community was trying to get rid of some fresh cut Apple wood. The party was offering it for free as fire wood. I contacted the seller and asked if she still had the wood and if I could come and pick a few pieces to turn on my lathe? At the same time I offered to make her a small item from the tree as a token of my thanks. Fruit wood is one of my favourite wood to turn. Its dense and hard and turns like a dream when wet. A few of the pieces were too large for me to lift and get to my truck and the yard was suffering from all the rain we have had and was pretty muddy and slippery!

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Early today I began cutting the 9 sections of the tree that I had hauled home. Below is a photo of the last three pieces in the bed of my truck.

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I just love cutting turning blocks from green wet wood. My chainsaw seems to just melt through it as long as I cut with the grain (rip) and don’t try to cut across it.

In a few hours I had processed it all and was ready to coat the end grain with a lumber sealant to try to minimize checks and cracks. Fruit wood is notorious for cracking so badly it is at times almost impossible to use.

Apple often has a really dark center or section surrounding the heart wood of the tree with provides a nice contrast to the light outer wood. This tree had been growing almost parallel to the ground and as a result had the heartwood way over on one side. I have never seen a tree with the heart so much off center. This worked to my advantage as it allowed me to get larger pieces with out the pith!

After I had coated both ends with Log Sealer I put it all under a small deck in my back yard and covered it with a sheet of plywood. I am having a lot of trouble with mould on wood that I cover with a tarp so decided to try the plywood instead to see if it would let a little more air inside. If you look closely you may see that most pieces now have a sort of orange bloom. Not sure what that is about.

Was able to find a little time today to spin a few small pieces. The plan was always to make a couple of small items to give to the family in thanks for sharing their tree with me. Never know how green wood, especially green fruit wood will dry and if it will crack or not and as a result I never know what I will give back to the Tree owners until a piece is complete.

The top three photos are a small bowl and the last three are of a ‘cup’ shape which I hope to try dying. I turned them pretty thin about 3/16 or a little less and set them on my boot/wood dryer to speed up the drying process and to see if blowing air inside a form will help it dry without splitting.

The apple is almost dry and has not split but has chosen a really nice organic shape that it wants to be. I found it interesting that as it dried the dark centre or heart wood became quite light colour. I’m hoping that when a finish is applied it will darken again.

I then made a small handle and a sphere which will be joined but a string to make a game of skill where one tries to swing the ball up and catch it on the handle. I am making this for the young lad who lives at the home where I got the wood. Apparently he was really attached to the tree and I’m hoping that this game will give him some pleasure.

 

I next put the ‘cup’ form back on the lathe and dyed it black. When dry I will sand most of the black off and apply a blue dye which I hope will highlight the grain!

Here’s what it looked like before I started to apply the final finish.

It was pretty cool when I began spinning this piece as I was surprised with a ? mark. Could it be the wood wondering what I was going to make?

February 16, 2017

To Brand or not to Brand

Filed under: Art, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 7:49 pm

I wonder how many other artists have wondered if a ‘brand’ might be a good idea? I know there are a lot of Artists whose work can easily be identified but for artists like myself this is a real long-shot!
I really like to identify my art with my name and a number. The number primarily for me to keep track of where my art winds up and to be able to keep a data base of information.
The problem for me was that on occasion I make smaller things to sell and often don’t have the inclination or space to actually sign them.
For about the last 2 years I have been adding a ‘brand’ it is a stylized icon combining my first and last initials. P and B. i have been burning my ‘brand’ with a pyrography pen which is a real pain if I am ‘branding’ 20 or 30 items at a time!
Here is a shot of the ‘brand’ I just bought on line. I was able to purchase just the branding end as I already have a Weller soldering iron I wanted to use.
I am now using on all my art work. I still sign my better pieces, and add the brand, but for craft type items I can now brand a bunch in a very short time.

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February 10, 2017

Cut and Paste

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 6:42 am

This is part of another piece that I can’t seem to get finished. I needed, I thought to post them here so I could use the photos on a turning site but I can’t get it to work. At any rate, the first shot is the sail which I cut from a platter of Horse Chestnut the other photos are the sail boat assembled. The hull started out life as a bowl from the same wood, all of which I was given by John Spitters, the end grain was so punky I was unable to cut it cleanly so I removed it and glued the two remaining sides together for the hull. Hopefully, one day I will get my act together and finish the piece.

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February 8, 2016

Which came first?

This question has been asked about the chicken and the egg for a long, long time. I think I finally have the solution.

If you have followed my blog at all, you will know that I really appreciate the art and turning skill of Betty Scarpino. I sat in on a wonderful all day Demo of hers and the next day was lucky enough to spend the day in a workshop with her as well.

Betty informed us that during the workshop we would be making and egg which would be finished with Liming wax, a pod and a candlestick holder.

After watching her demo I had a hard time sleeping that night as I was determined to use some or all of her ideas but bring my own slant to them. After all, I sure didn’t want to do a Scarpino, because no one could do one as good as she.

Sometime during the night I came up with a plan.

I would make an egg as per her suggestions and make a pod but my pod would be turned with more than two centres and would house the egg.

A little head scratching during the work shop but in the end I came up with this piece.

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The pod is maple, turned and hollowed wet. I finished it with a light coat of yellow glue and wood filler to give it some texture. Usually we texture by taking material away but a fantastic turner by the name of John Keeton suggested that I should try adding texture instead. The feel of the pod is really interesting, what a great idea John. Then with acrylics I painted the inside, added the branch from my driftwood collection and put the egg inside.

My solution to the age old problem is, the egg came first, it came from a pod . . .

 

Thanks Betty!

December 17, 2015

Seed pods

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 4:01 pm

After spending some time in the presence of a really wonderful person and great turner
Betty Scarpino. I decided to try my hand at making seed pods.

Here are a couple of pictures of one I made in which I found a stowaway!!

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June 28, 2014

Re-cobbled

The continuing saga of my path to discover an ‘easy’ way to sand the inside of hollow forms.
If you read the previous post and are following along then here is the next edition.

I previously purchased a rock tumbler at a garage sale this is a much faster turning devise than either of the BBQ motors I was trying earlier.

With the increase in speed I can in two days get the same revolutions I was getting in 2 weeks. I do realize that at some point if it spins too fast the glass will just cling to the outer walls and not tumble or grind the inside of the hollow form as I intend to.

The rock tumbler uses a 1725 rpm motor connected to a 1.5″ dia pulley which is then connected with a vee belt to a 9″ pulley. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but by my calculations this devise now spins my hollow forms at  287.5 RPM. I wondered if it might be too fast but I can hear the glass and marbles (yes I have included marbles this time around) sliding and grinding as it spins. I am certainly not a machinest and the part that is in between my chuck and the shaft of the pillow block is not a tight fit and as a result the chuck ‘wobbles’ a little which i believe may add to it’s ability to sand.

Here’s a shot of my ‘re-cobbled’ devise.

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I tip it slightly toward the bottom and alternately the top in an attempt to get the glass and the marbles working more on the ends where the torn grain is. I try to tip it about about 2″ and run about half time with it tipped each way.

Here is a comparison shot of one piece before sanding and after about 300,000 rotations.

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And a closeup of the one on the right.

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I think you can see quite an improvement as far as sanding and removal of ridges goes but as you can see it hasn’t cleaned up the torn end grain.

If I was to do a finished Hollow form I would spend a little more time with my tools to try to minimize the torn grain prior to using my sanding devise.

Please feel free to email me if you have any comments or questions.

Great Store

Filed under: Art, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 2:20 pm

I have just reached an agreement with Cathy Goodman to sell some of my pieces in her new store here in Ladner at the  “Muddy River Landing”.

She has a wonderful store offering BC Coastal Curios and Bling including lots of local artists work!

If you live in the lower mainland of BC and would like to see or purchase any of my work this would be a great place to see it first hand.
Cathy has also kindly offered to exibit some of my whimisical wooden walking sticks.

June 16, 2014

Sanding the inside of a Hollow Form

Occasionally I really want a really good finish on the inside of a Hollow Form no matter how big the opening is. An example would be when I want to pierce the form with some sort of art that would allow people to get a good look at the inside. Another might be when I make a Hollow Form influenced by harvey Fein. His work frequently has openings in the shape of slits or slots that go all the way through the piece.
To this end I read somewhere that if pieces of broken tempered glass are put inside and slowly rotated they will eventually finely finish the inside.
I am presently experimenting with this process and have rough turned the inside of a couple of blocks of Birch. I used my Kobra hollowing system and made no attempt to get a smooth interior. I did perform a final light cut with a freshly sharpened cuter. The intention was to leave some roughness and some ridges.

The blocks are about 3″ square and 5 1/2 long.
Here is a photo of the devise I cobbled together with parts I had laying around.

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It enables me to angle the turning if I want more finishing done towards either end. The original BBQ rotisserie motor turned twice as fast as my current one. I had planned to turn a week with it slanting towards the top and a week towards the bottom but during the process I decided I needed to keep track of revolutions rather than days/weeks.
Here is a picture of one of them prior to beginning the process.

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Here is a photo comparing the one on the left (unsanded) and on the right the sanded one.

This was accomplished in about 8600 Revolutions.

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As you can see the section on the left does have a much nicer finish and actually feels as if it has been sanded quite well. It did not however remove much of the ridges. I think I will devise a faster turning model and give it a try again. Sanding with more revolutions this time.

On another thread someone suggested the addition of marbles along with the glass and this I will try next.

May 26, 2014

More of Molly’s Influence

I continue to enjoy making miniature and smaller size hollow forms adorned with some of the pyrography techniques which I learned in a all day workshop with Molly Winton. This series includes Orca Whales.

Thinking about Molly’s influence I am not too sure how she feels about the work I am producing in her shadow. Sometimes I wonder if the artist(s) whom influence my work would really rather I didn’t mention their names or if they might be embarrassed by my attempts to incorporate some of the details which they use. At any rate, until I learn differently, I shall continue to list those whom have influenced my techniques and design features in the pieces I show here.

I have apparently started a series, not planned but because there are some similarities I will also post a series on this blog.

of  related Blogs.

This piece is the first in the Orca Series. It includes a four ‘lip’ opening influenced by Molly(she does a 3 point) as well as the sort of basket weave that she uses on the lower part of the piece.

On this piece I used a small round “writing point’ burning point to detail at the dark parts of the Orcas. I then stained the maple around them. This left the whiter parts of the Orcas the natural maple color although not as white as they are in nature.

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I have completed a few others in this series but will post them individually.

My work can all be seen on my Web Site woodbowlsandthings.com

Please feel free to comment or send me a note if you wish to discuss my work or would like any more details.

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