- slabs from using a chainsaw to cut off the corners of the log
- shavings, shavings, shavings
- a cone-shaped piece that comes out of the center of the log
- a round piece, flat on top and bottom, that comes from the other end
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Saturday, November 16, 2013
But this year, I have faced the unavoidable reality that "a long, long time" is not forever. Someday, it will not be possible for me to do this. Without speculating too much about which capability will be the one that diminishes and makes it impossible, it is pretty clear that I won't be doing this work when I am 80. Even age 70 seems like a stretch, to believe that I can keep it all together and be standing at my lathe for hours, carving away mountains of shavings from massive logs and getting the precise results I get now.
Now, every time I feel a "ping" in a muscle or joint, I wonder if the moment has come. at least on occasion, I feel very mortal and fragile. For example, a couple of nights ago, I woke up with a discomfort in my left hand that grew to something that kept me from sleeping. It kept me from working the next day. And that thought arrived once again: "did I create my last lampshade yesterday?" This is an awareness I am coming to terms with, and it doesn't make me crazy or depressed. Not at all! I love what I do, and it is a huge part of how I identify myself. But I ALSO know that I have an amazing life outside of woodturning, and I have zero doubt that whenever the page turns to the next chapter, I will be fulfilled, challenged, and happy.
And the funny thing is that this year of turning sixty has been the most fruitful of my career. Even more than before, truly amazing commissions and clients started to materialize. And most inexplicably, this all started almost exactly on the date of my birthday last December. I hope to be writing more blog posts soon about some of these projects, but for the purposes of this post, the most succinct thing to say about is that in my 30+ years of being a full-time craftsperson, I typically have had in front of me one to three significant commission projects at any particular time. And at this moment, I have nine projects lined up to create before next summer! Some sort of tipping point has been reached. It is incredibly exciting for me, a dramatic new phase in my work and my creativity.
So, all the more reason to stay healthy and focused. The opportunities are there, and I will find a way to outsmart Father Time and "keep on keeping on" for as long as I can. This is my life's work, and it is not done. Hooray. Being 60 and being a woodturner for 30 years are BOTH things I am proud of, and always always always, appreciative for all the people and good fortune that makes it possible!
((OH..., and by the way, my apologies for neglecting this blog for so long. I feel inspired to get back to posting here more often, with news about commissions, inspirations, collaborations, and whatever else comes to the fore.))
Monday, July 30, 2012
Sunday, November 13, 2011
It began as a drawing I made five or six years ago, but we never actually built it. I have always liked the concept, but since it is more three dimensional than our other pieces, the sketch could not do justice to the essential forms, so we never got a client interested in commissioning this piece. This year, we took the leap of faith to build it for the LWC exhibit, and it could not have been a bigger success. David and I love the way it came out, and it opens up a whole new branch to our growing portfolio of designs. It also won two prestigious awards at Living With Crafts: Best Collaboration, and Best in Contemporary Design. There were so many amazing pieces in the exhibition, so we are honored to be selected by the jurors.
An interesting bit about how the design evolved: the original drawing was quite a bit taller and proportionally narrower, and that form is equally dramatic. But it would only be appropriate for a room with a very high ceiling. In coming up with the final drawings for LWC, it was obvious that it needed to be re-scaled to suit the exhibition hall. In doing that, we realized it could easily be scaled in many ways: wider or narrower, taller or shorter, and with shades as small as 10" diameter or as large as 18." All the variations we played with looked good! What we settled on is a fairly small rendition, which was appropriate for the space and also the Terry Moore Table over which it was going to be placed.
When we had it all built, we realized it needed a name. Originally we had been referring to it as "Tri-Icicles,"
One other note about this piece. Working on two dimensional paper to draw three dimensional forms is limiting. The interplay of lines sweeping through space is entirely different depending on what angle the piece is seen from. And even if I can imagine what the lines on the paper mean when it is translated to three dimensions, it is far from an ideal way to present to a prospective client – the dynamic range of dancing shapes is confusing and ambiguous. So I am now learning how to make 3D models out of copper wire and tubing, annealing the metal so it bends sinuously, and soldering the joints. I still have to work out some tricks for how to hold the odd shaped pieces together while I solder, but the process of bending and arranging the components is fascinating. Just a simple thing like taking three arc-shaped elements and holding them together in different ways provides for infinite choices. The aesthetic and functional results are fascinating. I have no doubt that this new way of designing is going to open up a lot of new project opportunities.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I have been working with Banksia Seed Pods for a couple of years, since Kathy and I went on a trip to Australia and actually saw the pods "in the wild." They grow on a hardwood tree native only to that country. There are actually 175 varieties of Banksia, most of which produce pods that are much smaller, acorn to plum size, and the ones we saw in person were very small. But in the deserts of Western Australia, Bull Banksia (Banksia Grandis) is much larger, from 4-16” long. When flowering, they are even larger, since each of the tiny bumps on the surface sprouts a long spike of flower petal forming a shape that is like a giant bottle brush in yellows, greens, and reds.
Interestingly, the Banksia name comes from Joseph Banks, the famous botanist on Captain Cook’s vessel, The Endeavor, as it circled the globe in the 1700’s in what is rightly considered one of the greatest missions of geographic and biological discovery.
Banskia pods resemble pine cones in a general way, but they are much more dense and heavy. That makes them strong and substantial. They are extremely difficult to carve, since the internal structure is brittle and honeycombed with the empty seed cavities. And they are also impregnated with micro-grains of sand from their desert habitat, and that dulls tools quickly. So I mostly work them by literally grinding away the material to get the best form for my purposes – not the most fun way to turn wood, but the results are so stunning, and I keep going back to this material.
There are several layers to a Banksia pod. The outer crust is grayish and bumpy, punctuated by smiling lips at the edges of the seed cavities. Then right after that is a layer of crimson felt that almost seems unnatural in it’s softness and perfection. Under the felt is a rock-hard core that radiates out from the central pith. Each pod is different in shape, arrangement of cavities, and coloration of the core.
Until this spring, the largest pods I could obtain in this country were maybe 8" long, great for candle lanterns. But this year, I found a source for a few extraordinary pods that were 11-14" long. That made it possible to make a lamp base using a single pod, with a wider base made of a different kind of wood (Teak in this case). The results are stunning, with the light shedding down over the varied surface textures of the pod in ways that really picks up the felt areas, the dark cavities, and the wild grain textures.
What a dramatic combination for the warm glow coming thru the side of the shade.
The photo at the top is of the table lamp that will be in the Living With Crafts exhbition at the Sunapee Craft Show (more accurately known as the Annual Fair of the League of NH Craftsmen). Hopefully you will get a chance to see it there. But since making that one, I have made four others using these pods, with different forms and different companion wood for the bottom disk. The photo below shows a whole seed pod.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 04, 2009
FYI, the pair is available for $4000 for the set. If they do not sell together, they can be purchased individually at the end of the exhibition. We are very excited about the results of this collaboration and would entertain other commissions in this general style.