Monday, January 7, 2013


The American Woodturner's Association each year holds a national symposium. As part of that, they hold a juried exhibition. That is to say, woodturners like myself send in photos of their work, and are selected for the exhibition based on quality and adherence to the title of the show. This year's title is "Currents," and the rules say it can be interpreted literally or figuratively. The pieces that are selected are sent to the symposium where they are displayed for the attendees to see. Then they tour the country for a year.

This is the start of my interpretation. It is a piece of Cherry, hollowed to about 1/4" wall thickness. The black lines are char marks left by burning lines using a 12,000 volt transformer from an old neon sign. (Disclaimer: Electricity can be dangerous. Please don't try this without understanding electricity, using appropriate personal protective equipment, and understanding the risks involved.) Yes, I know it sounds dramatic, but you know someone will try it, electrocute themselves, and say that they didn't know it was dangerous...duh..... Anyway, where was I....oh yeah...

Once this phase of the project is done, I have more to do with it. I will publish the next step, ... a little added something soon as I get it done, probably later this week.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This is my next project. It still needs hollowing, but the outside is completed, except for the finish. The burn lines were done with 15,000 volts of electricity using a transformer from an old neon sign. Sounds crazy? Probably. But I really like the effect. It needs a little more experimenting, but I think there is some real potential here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Well, I got through it.  All in all, it didn't go too bad, although I would have done a few things differently. This is the first time I have done this particular demo, so a few things could probably stand a little tweaking. I'm sure a few people got something out of it, and that was the point.

I have done one demo a year for the last 3 years. Hopefully, I will get a break next year. I also wouldn't mind taking this demo to some of the other woodturning clubs around the state.

Now it's time for a turning break. As much as I love it, it is really hard to get motivated to turn when it is 112 degrees outside and I am turning in my garage.

Friday, June 8, 2012

About once a year, I volunteer, or get volunteered, to give a demo for my woodturning club. I enjoy doing it, so I'm not really complaining. It just takes quite a bit of preparation. They say never demonstrate what you haven't done, so I have to turn a few practice pieces. Then I have to make sure my presentation fits the time frame. I have to gather everything I will need, and turn a few pieces part way. In a lot of ways, it is like doing a cooking show. You put all the ingredients together, pop it in the oven, and it magically comes out 30 seconds later as a finished dish.

Last but not least, I would like to make it not only informative, but somewhat entertaining. No one wants to sit through a 2 1/2 hour presentation that is slightly less engaging than watching paint dry. All this comes to a head next Saturday, when I do my presentation. I will be talking about different types of tool handles, as well as different ways to make your own, both for turning tools and regular hand tools.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

turning green

A friend recently gave me a large mesquite log that had been freshly cut, or "green." Turning green is great because it is easier on the tools, easier on the turner, and cuts down on the dust. The downside is that you have to turn the log fairly quickly after it is cut, because wood has a tendency to split as it dries.

These are two hollow forms that got turned from that "green" log. They were turned to finish thickness. The platter was from a piece of dry mesquite that had been in the shop for a long time. The number (must have been running through my head, because the short one is 9" wide x 7" high, the tall one is 9" high x 5 1/2" wide, and the platter is 9" wide. The pencil is just in the picture for reference.

The platter has 3 coats of oil so far, and the hollow forms do not have any finish put on them yet.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas gifts

The "whir" coming from my garage has died down for a few days. I had been frantically turning some gifts to give, and some that people had asked me to turn. Anyway, I was in production mode for  a little while, and now I can go back to turning a few things I have had in my mind for awhile.

This set of salt and pepper mills were actually an experiment. My step-daughter wanted a set for her boyfriend's parents, and didn't give me any other parameters to work with, so I took it as a license to experiment. This is what I came up with. They are both from Ash, and both made with the same technique, although very different results.

I have been experimenting a lot with color, and would like to explore it more. The new year holds some exciting ideas I have floating around, so we'll see what I can make of them. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Show Season

Well, it's show season in the Phoenix area. Unlike most parts of the country, most of our art shows/craft fairs, etc., are held in the winter months. When other parts of the country are battling snow and ice, we are just coming into prime outdoor season.

This is an urn I made for a friend's dog. It was a special request for a very unexpected passing of his English Bulldog. I used a piece of Olive I had and filled some cracks with Turquoise. For the top, I used Texas Ebony. I know it's hard to see, but the small "finial" or top of the lid resembles the top of a fire hydrant.

As Christmas approaches, my sales tend to go way up, as well as special requests for items. This is a two edged sword. As great as it is to be able to spend time in the shop, it can get a big hectic making sure I am meeting everyones needs. It can also be a big overwhelming turning a bunch of different things. My preference is to turn one of a kind, larger artistic items such as hollow forms and decorative bowls and platters. However, in this economy, they are sometimes cost prohibitive for people to buy. I find most shoppers are more attracted to the less expensive items such as bottle stoppers and small vases. This isn't a bad thing, turning is turning. I just have to make sure I keep enough of those items in stock.

Finally, my peppermills are really taking off, and more design ideas are flowing fast. That is a good thing. However, finding antique doorknobs on the internet has gotten more expensive, which drives prices up.