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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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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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.

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.

March 16, 2014

MOLLY WINTON – WORKSHOP

Friday last was the day I had been looking forward to for a couple of months. My date with Molly!
Well I was not to be disappointed.
After the 1 1/2 hour drive including having my GPS take me to the wrong address I finally wound up at Bow River Woods. I never did find any sort of sign the establishment but those in the know seem to be able to find it with little directions.
There were 10 attendees in all.
Molly started off, after introducing herself, by asking each of us why we were there and what we hoped to gain from the experience. From there she tried to accommodate all interests. She started by turing a miniature hollow form. Molly turns most of her miniature pieces in spindle orientation and really likes to turn green. This is the type of work she is most known for. Her communication and lathe skill are really good although I believe the small hollow form really didn’t let us get too good a look at all her abilities. Through out the turning she would stop and talk about tools, good design and what works especially for her.

She didn’t have a good torch but described the process of making hollowing tools from Allen wrenches, which she used to hollow the miniature form.

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Once the hollow form was complete we moved back to our tables and were coached in burning techniques and preparation of tools. Then were given some time to practice. From there we were shown her method of making the ‘brands’ she uses to embellish her work. Including a ‘basket weave’ brand and a ‘spiral’ brand. She had both for sale but suggested that we should probably save money by just making them ourselves.

She briefly discussed the tricks she has developed in making her own buying hand pieces, pretty cool. I will certainly try to make a few myself. Just cause I’m cheap!
Molly spirit and easy manner made the whole experience most satisfying, it was almost as if it was just a bunch of long time friends getting together to share experiences.
Molly then demonstrated how she carves the tops of some of her forms to make here signature three cornered top. This was pretty cool and she completed it in the wink of an eye.

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She followed that up with tips regarding a whole lot of specialized finishing and colouring techniques which I found most interesting.

I had taken a strange burning tool I had bought at a garage sale, manufactured in Columbia, which had about 100 brands, Molly as well as other attendees found very interesting,  toward the end, Molly offered to trade one of her miniatures for several of the brands which surprisingly fit in her burning hand pieces. I was most happy to bring one of her signed pieces home.

All in all it was a great day!

March 8, 2014

Molly Winton – Whoo Hoo!!

Whoo Hooo!!!!

Next Friday I am going to attend my very first all day turning workshop, this with Molly Winton.

Molly is an artist who’s work I have admired from a far for a very long time. Here’s and example of Molly’s work, this is  one of my favourite pieces.

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Here’s  a link if  you would like a closer look.

http://www.turningmaven.com

Did I say I am really stoked.

Here are a few pictures of the practice pieces I will take with me in the hope that Molly will provide me with some ideas and techniques to make them really special.

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I’ll be back next week to describe the experience!

November 14, 2011

Bowl Bottom Finder Update

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , — peteblair @ 6:17 pm

Well, it seems the my brain never ceases to keep working regardless of whether I want it to or not, even often as I sleep.

If you read my previous post re the Bottom Finder Jig, then you will know I spent some time trying to come up with the Jig.

Last night while half asleep I realized I had done way more than I needed to. The jig I built will work every bit as good if not better, as a indicator, if the thickness of the bottom of the bowl is measured with callipers prior to mounting on the vacuum chuck.

Like this.

Then after the bow is mounted the Jig can be set to indicate the bottom without the need to measure through the drive shaft.

Next I set the right had side of the Jig arm to the outside bottom of the bowl.

Then I measure the caliper to find out how thick the bottom actually is.

I then mark the arm of the Jig with the width of the callipers as I just measured, and reset the jig that amount.

Here is the jig indicating the bottom of the inside of the bowl. It is again the right hand side of the arm.

No guessing at all now. I can make the bottom exactly whatever thickness I choose and not worry about going through and producing another ‘funnel’.

My first effort was a little over engineered as usual!

I did notice when I used the Jig today that if there is a situation where I can’t use the callipers or for some other reason can’t actually measure the bottom thickness then my first jig will do the job.

Once again, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Sometimes even I, wonder about me!!!

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