05
May 21

Flamed Olive Ash

I have a few blanks of olive ash I got from Home of Wood back before Brexit made a hames of shipping stuff from the UK to here, and they can be a bit of a pain to turn because they’re so hard, but they always make up for it by looking spectacular. So…

Some really lovely grain right on the corner where it’ll be turned away. Le sigh. Also an odd crack that I’d circled in pencil there and a void on the far side. This wood really doesn’t want to make your life simple. I wanted a shape that fitted in the hand well, and wound up going down the amphora road a bit again. I’m not sure this really works that well, but for some reason I keep on cutting it.

Hollowing out that shape is a bit of a pain because of the undercut being half-way into the bowl. But at least the nice bit of grain that I liked is still present.

Also, wow, that figuring. That’s going to look spectacular when it’s done. Assuming I don’t muck it up. So, sanded to 220 dry, to 400 with danish oil, then yorkshire grit and then four coats of hampshire sheen wax, each left for ten minutes to set up before being buffed.

The grain came out nice but it’s the figuring that’s the star here.

I’m guess this must have been from under where the branch was and this is all stress-related figuring but it’s really pretty.
So, reverse the bowl and hollow out, which went well but was a lot of small cuts and grumbling about tearout in odd spots and stress cracks opening up. I really need to get a bottom feeder bowl gouge to handle that transition from side to base and to do a bottom cut rather than a scrape. But it turned out okay. Poppyseed oil and hampshire sheen for the inside so it’s foodsafe.

Then reversed the bowl onto a pushplate and shaped the foot and a bit more danish oil and wax there.

Totally forgot to brand it, I’ll do that later on. For now, it’s done and it fits in the hand well and it’s pretty, so I call that a success.


04
May 21

Cosmic splatter

So I wanted to try turning a nice royal blue bowl with white liming wax. Picked out a chestnut blank, and roughed out the shape, and discovered it had an odd yellow discolouration in the wood that I’d not seen before. Rather unattractive too, not a nice shade of yellow (think bile, not sunshine). And when I stained it…

That’s not the richest of royal blues and it’s going green in places. I tried sanding back and applying a few more layers of stain:

but…

Just not nice. No deep colour, the endgrain’s popping but the rest of the bowl’s not right.
So, if at first you don’t succeed, drop the plan and do something different 😀

Ebonising lacquer all over the bowl (and my wall, my chest drill, me and a bit of the roof. Doh). Two coats of this in fact.

And then the point of this – out with the pearlescent acrylic paints (by Amsterdam in case anyone’s wondering). Dab a bit on the surface, then blow around with an airbrush until you get a very thin layer and a nice abstract pattern. There’s a trend of this in woodturning at the moment – look for “Cosmic Clouds” on youtube and you’ll find it – but I did try to apply the paint with the airbrush as well and I hadn’t thinned it correctly so I got spatter when I tried that first. Not great. Lots of airbrush cleaning followed. I do have some iridescent paints (not the Jo Sonia ones that everyone on youtube is using because those are a bit spendy over here right now, but Pebeo Studio ones) that I must try this with as well, but for now, just pearlescent.

Left to dry for a day or two and the white lines vanish away and the paint’s colours get more pronounced, albeit slightly.

So I figured I’d hollow it out and finish it. It had Opinions on this idea…

The entire tenon snapped clean off when I started hollowing. I hadn’t even had a catch, just some chatter:

Possibly not the best chunk of wood in the storage box. I was able to remount it on the screw drive and turn a small recess in the remains of the foot then grip it with some expanding jaws:

And I was able to mostly hollow it out that way with small cuts, but it’s not exactly as thin-walled as the last bowl. But it’s a test piece using possibly not-so-good timber, so I’m okay with that.

Reversed it and fixed up the foot on the push-plate, and gave it a coat or two of acrylic lacquer along the way as well. Doesn’t look too terrible in the sunshine. Must do another one of these again, maybe with a better piece of timber next time. And the iridescent paints. Or a mix of the two…


03
May 21

Thin walls

So I’d been working on the shape of the bowls I was turning and trying to get the basics down, and a friend who’s been turning a lot longer than I have (hi Tom!) suggested a skill test – turn a thin-walled bowl. I managed to do that on two of my first bowls but I’d not turned anything with thin walls since.

So, trying again a year later with a small chestnut blank.

Nice simple open shape for this, no closed bowls or hollow forms just yet 😀

Using a tenon below the foot because the blank just seemed a few millimetres thick.

Sanded, oiled (just a coat of danish oil), yorkshire grit and hampshire sheen wax. Not doing anything very special because at this point, I expect it to explode mid-hollowing 😀

Reverse it into the chuck, face it off.

And now it gets hairy. Tom’s advised technique was to hollow out the top centimetre to the desired thickness, make all my finishing cuts for that centimeter, then do the next centimetre down (instead of roughly hollowing the whole bowl and then doing a finishing cut, because the bowl would be so thin that it would flex on the lathe, and the risk of a catastrophic catch gets much much higher.

First cm went okay…

Second cm was okay, starting to get stressed….

Third cm down, now just dreading a catch out of nowhere and a ruined bowl. Squeaky bum time. One last cm to go…

And it didn’t explode and I’m rather surprised to be honest. There are tool marks to remove and two high ridges (the pencil lines there mark them) to take care of:

And that’s ready for sanding.

Just over 2mm before sanding at the rim. And the depth was okay as well.

Sanded with poppyseed oil to 320 inside the bowl and hampshire wax to make it look nice:

And then reverse it again and use a push-plate to remove the tenon and shape the foot.

I can’t really get in any further than that even with my finest detail gouge so I carve off the little stub with a chisel.

And a bit of sanding and branding…

And that’s that. One skill test, done. I’ll have to keep practicing this, and a bit more regularly. But it’s nice to know I can do it at all…