Monday, April 14, 2014

The Artful Turn: embarking on more artistic work/The Catalpa project-discussion and plans

I've been working like a maniac lately producing kitchenware and I would like to begin taking some time out of my turning schedule to produce more artistic work.


Wood turning as an art form has been a part of the art world for a number of decades here in the US and beginning in the late 1960's-early 1970's, a number of important artists began to produce serious work utilizing wood turning lathes. I've been collecting books for a long time on wood turning as an art form and at present turners in all parts of the world are producing amazing and truly beautiful turned wooden forms. I would like to take my work to the next level and begin to produce more artistic work too.

Now, I don't have any artistic training and that is a big drawback so I'm going to begin taking some art classes this fall and learn about lines, form, color, and painting. In the mean time I'm going to begin working on some artistic pieces to get a sense of what that is like and to begin to identify the technical challenges in turned wooden art.

I've long been intrigued with the buildings designed by Frank Gehry. The irregular shaped panels that make up the exteriors of his buildings are unique and very eye catching. I'm going to try to produce a bowl that will have several "panels" along the exterior and possibly interior of the bowl that will, I hope they will, appear to look independent of each other and reflect light at different angles and work in harmony with one another. We'll see how this goes.


When I went shopping for wood last week, amongst other things, I purchased a small block of catalpa wood. Catalpa trees are found all over the US but are native to the eastern portion of the US. It's not endangered. It's easily turned and it kind of resembles ash but instead of the yellow color of ash it is a medium golden brown. The block I purchased is about 2 1/2" thick and about 10 inches in diameter and this would be an excellent start for an artistic piece. I'm not sure at this point what kind of finish to apply. 

Here's today's photos:

Here is a photo of the blank that I began with. It's not heavy or very dense and it has a golden brown color and a nice figure:

Here is a photo of the underside of the bowl. I've given it a wide, thin foot so as to lift it off of the surface of a table or shelf.   I've begun to turn the rest of the bowl:

Here is a side shot. You can see the all the exterior surfaces of the bowl here and I've trued up the side. This portion of the turn went very well:

Next, I turned the first section which is the band of wood on the right hand side of the bowl. I want this section to flair out from the bowl a little. The second, wider band will flair out in the opposite direction:

Here's what it looks like:

Time to take it off the lathe and see what it looks like:

Here it is outside:

I'm inside right now and the bowl is sitting on my coffee table at the moment. I think narrower band needs to be made a little narrower, by about 1/8 of an inch. I think it overpowers the rest of the exterior of the bowl. I'm going to have some lunch and go back down to the shop and narrow it down a little bit. I'll be back in about an hour.


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