Monday, 30 May 2011

Latest foray into arbortech art

Arbortechs come in a couple of different models. The one I most covet costs around £120 for the blade, so I make do with the baby attachment which I needed first and bought some years ago. This one fits onto a standard angle grinder by means of a plastic housing and a wheel which drives the cutting blade by means of a little rubber band.

The idea is you turn your item and either stop the lathe or start carving at it while it rotates. A face shield is a necessity, as are ear muffs and a strong set of arms to hold the dancing apparatus steady enough to make it do what you want it to do.

Sunday is the day when I turn for pleasure - the rest of the week is for production work. Here is a 'Playtime Platter':
Called :  Approaching 50
Wood: Sycamore
How it was done:  Turned, dyed and ebonised, arborteched while stationary. Remounted slightly off-centre (a miniscule amount) and arborteched again while the lathe was spinning slowly to get that worn away effect. Cleaned up with a brass brush and hand sanding, then spray lacquered.
 The underneath was arborteched while the lathe was stationary, then ebonised and lacquered.

I was pleased with this one.
The African Blackwood stand you see in the pics is not part of the platter. It is my 'lifter-upper'.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Huichol Beadwork

The Huichol tribe of Mexico survive by making and selling the most intriguing art work - using yarn and beeswax to create colourful paintings. I have known about this for along time. What I discovered more recently was an extension of that style of art where carved wooden shapes are covered with a layer of a beeswax/resin mix and glass beads are then pushed into the wax in colourful, intricate patterns. I decided to try and combine this form of Huichol art with my own wood turning and have been researching and experimenting with the process ever since. Having come up with a beeswax mix that satisfies me, I turned a little hollow form from field maple to give it a try. The results were satisfying to say the least. Setting this little ring of beads (about 1000) took a mere 2.1/2 hours...

Beech or Field Maple...

A couple of weeks ago, my son called me at home...

"Can you come and fetch me please - I've got a piece of tree for you, only it's really heavy."

He'd gone for a bit of a walk - about 10 miles in his language - and found a piece of freshly cut tree around 10" dia and about 3 foot long. Around 50-60kg in weight, he'd carried it around 3 miles to the end of the track, thinking I may like to turn it.

I was parked in so Dad and little brother had to go to the rescue. They came home with a boot full of log.

A couple of days later I had a number of part-turned bowl blanks, all covered with PVA and set down to dry alongside loads of wet cedar bowls in my work space. Some are moving nicely turning into ovals, but one showed signs of cracking along the end grain. In order to not lose it completely, I put it on the lathe on a re-turned spigot, and started turning it down to around 6mm wall thickness in stages, wet-sanding with oil as I went.

Finished with sanding sealer and beeswax, it's gradually going more oval, and the cracks are progressing slowly as it moves.

With a bit of luck it will stay in one piece and my son can get to keep it as a reminder of his enthusiasm and thanks for his big heart, but I still can't decide whether it is a very light coloured beech or field maple...