Time on my hands!

Published by Les on

Since lockdown eased sufficiently for my woodturning tuition sessions to recommence, things have been rather busy and I’ve had to restrict the sessions to two per week; although it must be said that I’ve given in, many a time, and fitted three sessions into many a week’s schedule.

Back in early June we bought a new-to-us caravan to replace our old one, and we spent a few nights on Anglesey, at a superb new site in the grounds of the Gwesty Gadlys Hotel. There were fine views over the bay, at Cemaes, and just a few minutes walk from the caravan to the beach. In fact, we liked it so much that we immediately booked another slot for a full week in July.

The view of Cemaes Bay from the Hotel.

The weeks in between the two visits to Anglesey were very busy indeed, with lots of projects around the house and workshop, as well as the regular tuition sessions, so when it was time for the second trip, we were more than ready to get away. Our family joined us for 4 of the 7 nights that we were there and we spent a couple of hours on the beach every single day.

All good things come to an end and by the time that we got back home, there were gaps appearing on the shelves in the galleries where I sell my work, and a friend who supplies me with batches of interesting timber, was waiting for me to make a batch of clocks, so once again, the workshop became busy.

I’m not a great lover of making turned pieces of work which incorporate commercially produced components, such as clocks, pens and all manner of other “craft” pieces. I feel that the opportunity for design and freedom of expression can be limited by the prescriptive nature of the components. I’d far rather mount a huge lump of wood on the lathe and just cut into it, revealing its inner beauty before I decide what its outcome will be, but as I mentioned, I needed to get some clocks made.

So here’s a small batch, the first of which is now on my display stand at Ty Siamas…

…not the best of photos; just a quick snap taken in the workshop, propped on a plastic tray full of abrasives, nonetheless, it’s a beautiful piece of spalted beech.

Next came a large piece of weathered oak burr, which the friend who wanted a clock had sold me a few years ago, with the addition of walnut beads to show the hours. I’d had the wood stacked outside allowing nature to take its effect and even though the wood was fairly well seasoned, it split and cracked, warped and twisted, which all adds to its amazing character. Let’s call it a wonkey-clock!

Next, another piece of spalted beech, but this time with natural edge from a junction of two branches. The mixture of confused grain patterns and dappled colours makes an amazing effect, and once again, walnut has been used to make small buttons to mark the hours.

I have a batch of off-cuts from laminated ash kitchen worktops, and these make excellent blanks for large diameter pieces, as they are so stable and rarely distort after turning. Here’s a 43cm diameter clock, so it’s a good size! This time with the hour-buttons made from reclaimed teak.

…and finally, a modest little kitchen clock. Once again, laminated ash, but this time with a sealed mechanism covered with a glass front. It’s about 23 cm diameter.

Not much else has gone through the workshop in the last month or so, besides a large batch of fir trees. Note….these are not Christmas trees because such a name would limit their sale to the November/December period. They’re called fir trees so that they can sell all year round!

There has, however, been one main project, an interpretation of an ancient Greek amphora with a steam-bent stand, made for the pages of Woodturning Magazine. This was great fun to make and was the second part of a two-part article, looking into the process of steam-bending timber and then applying that knowledge to a small project.

A couple of weeks ago I had the enormous pleasure to discover that my amphora had been selected as the “Turning of The Week” by Woodturners Unlimited, and this is what they had to say in their social media page…

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