Oh well…

I spent some considerable time today playing with a new idea. The initial quick trial worked quite well, and encouraged by it I turned a quick wide-rimmed platter (15″) in sycamore to try it out on later at home. I collected the things I needed when I closed the shop and went home eager to try it out. Well it didn’t work nearly well enough, and I was left with a once nice enough platter with a very messy and unpleasant rim. It would have been easy to pack it away, count it as a failure and move on tomorrow. But I couldn’t. Couldn’t face it mocking me. So as I had to nip out anyway I detoured to the workshop, remounted it, re-cut and abraded it, brought it back home and took the easy, comfortable option…and did something that won’t be a surprise…

I’ll never be happy with this platter because it will always remind of the failure of an idea. Sadly I cannot afford the luxury of too many play time failures, and a tangible result is required to justify those that ended up as fire wood. As this was a nice clean piece of sycamore the fire seemed too good for it, hence the easy option.

Oh well…tomorrow’s another day

 

Another pyro’d hollowform…

This hollowform was turned a few days ago from green maple. There was minimal movement, but a little crack in the pith at the base which was drilled out and CA’d to stabilise. It’s the last before the Big One.

I’ve taken four pictures to show the whole form.

I’ve has a few queries about the process, so here’s a shot of the above during the process…

You can see that the form was blocked out in pencil overlapping squares – just as the brick pattern forms were – and then each block is done individually. You could simply start pyrographing, of course, but I feel the constraints provided by the blocking out force you to be a little more inventive, and preclude large areas of quick filling with big patterns. Just my way. You may find your own.

 

Pyro with colour…

I couldn’t bring myself to colour the HF or vase form, so last night I quickly finished a box I’d turned to do the brick pattern on (and hadn’t got round to) with a view to colouring it today. I couldn’t decide what colour to use for a while, but I knew it had to be stain rather than another medium. In order to keep the burnt areas crisp, and distinct, the colouring had to be sub-surface rather than sitting on the surface of the wood. So stain it was. In an effort NOT to make it black and red and went for orange which seemed to suit. So here it is…and once again opinions (if you count four opinions as indicative of anything!) differ…

As usual Heather had to get in on the act…

So…colour or not?

One thing that these pieces to require is a water-based varnish with an anti-UV additive, or the burn will fade over time. Even with this they will need to be kept out of direct sun light, but then I always advise this for any coloured work anyway. So tomorrow I need to nip to the art shop and get some. In the meantime I’ve another HF to begin this evening.

Related to all this, I received an email today about “doodling” and its use as a decorative technique. The sender attached two images of such doodles, and one in particular was very appealing. With their consent I’ll post them here later.

Right…off to work…

 

 

 

 

 

Pyrography overload…

A friend always claims I “go through phases” (and as a former electrician I suppose he’d know!), and concentrate on something for a few weeks, get bored, and move on. And I suppose I do. Butterfly syndrome, isn’t it?

Well yesterday he noted that I seem to be persisting with the pryographed vessels. And I am because I’m enjoying it. The initial phase, and style, has continued but I realised that it would enable me to do something that’s been on my mind for ages now, so I turned a few hollows and other forms to play with the idea.

The initial idea came from a love of the work of Grayson Perry and Claudia Clare – story pots in essence – but the trouble is I have no story to tell and no particular flag I wish to fly, so how to adapt the idea was the first question. I think I’ve answered it, and I’m working on a plan for the big one. In the meantime I’ve been playing with the format if not the story. It was only whilst playing that I realised there was another inspiration which had previously not occurred to me – lino cut blocks. If you’ve ever looked closely at a lino cut block there are small areas which remain un-touched between the cuts. Patches of surface that remain and are transferred to the eventual print. I often find the blocks as pleasing as the prints. Sometimes more so. And what I have been imagining is akin to this, only achieved with the pyrography machine.

Here are a couple of the first forms: a hollow form in maple 10″ high and about 5″ max dia., and a vase form about the same height and maybe 7″ dia.

The next question is, “colour or not?” Opinion (as ever) differs. I’m inclined to try, but with the HF already accounting for seventeen hours work I’m loathe to ruin it if colouring doesn’t work! I can see a single colour overlay, but also a vivid multi-colour version. Maybe a very small trial piece is called for.

I have never spent so long pyrographing and the process has thrown up a few potential issues which are worth mentioning.

Firstly, heat. The pen on a pyrography machine can become VERY hot, especially when using high heat for prolonged periods. I don’t know for certain, but would imagine that high heat on the same points of you fingers for a long period could be an issue. Cooked flesh? So if using one for a long time, rest every ten minutes to give the pen a chance to cool and your fingers to recover. If you have a machine like the  PPHA03 this situation is helped by the air feed through the pen set. I’ve come to rely in this more and more whilst decorating these forms, so John Wood’s machine is finding itself plugged in more often than the burnmaster.

Another potential issue is the wood smoke. Now I’d never have thought wood smoke to be an issue, especially in the relatively small concentrations produced when pyrographing, but I think it could be. At one point I certainly felt quite sickly, but after plugging in the charcoal extractor John loaned me the smoke was removed and filtered and all was well.

Other than those two things I haven’t come across anything else that would seem to be an issue, unless you count the potential for RSI, but frequent rest periods and some finger stretching should take care of that.

So…next step is to complete a few more trial pieces and then move on to the big one. But this may take a while! All in all it’s been a lot of fun watching these forms come to completion (or near completion as they require a finishing treatment yet). When you begin you think you’ll never get to the end. It’s a long process but for me at least it’s been worth it.

 

 

Pyrography update…

In answer to several queries, no I haven’t given up on the pyro-brick vessels and forms, I’ve just been busy with demonstrations and other woody things.

I’ve continued developing the idea and think I’m at the point where I can start to make the versions I want to end with. I’ve used both machines pretty much the same, and honestly cannot choose between the two. Each has at least one aspect that sets it above the other, but either would serve well as a lone pyrography machine – especially if you’ve not had the two to play with! The good news, for me, is that I now have the two to use. Anyway…an update was requested so here it is…

I thought I’d try the pattern on a bowl rim, and this is the result:

Having completed this one I wondered what it would look like all over the interior of a bowl. The problem was quite heavy scorching on the exterior, so I treated this with a new product, an acrylic metal “paint” that crazes. This hasn’t proved to be to my taste and will not be used again. But if you don’t try you don’t know.

And not much good for soup!

After this I thought I’d incorporate the pattern on a hollow ball as I enjoy turning these and have used them before. But what to do with the ball? Well, as a matter of course I remove a ring from the exterior of bowl blanks whilst turning the outer shape. These would normally end up as shavings, but can be useful for all sorts of things, like chapter rings on clocks, for instance. Here I used one as planetary ring for the hollow ball.

The rock came from a Welsh silver mine and was given to me by a friend, Rosie, a silversmith in Suffolk. I thought the colour (once modified) suited the sculpture, but opinions differ!

I’m just about to start on another evolution, but it will be a longer process and may end up on the fire.

I was “pulled up” a few days ago for “breaking” my “own rules”. The complainant wondered why I’d decided to “completely obliterate the wood”, after stating in the past that I “liked to see the wood” even on coloured and textured work. Hummm. Well, I suppose the answer is that you move on. If you restrict your self to such an extent it makes life very difficult. These forms, decorated in this fashion, are not about the wood, but about the finished object. I make no apology for them or my actions, but I do understand that some turners don’t, won’t, and possibly, can’t, ever find anything positive to say about them. That’s fine, because I didn’t make them for them. I never have done.  (Well, perhaps that’s not strictly true – perhaps I did for the first year of turning).

Interestingly, not ten minutes after being “pulled”, another turner thanked me for a course he attended (with others) much earlier in the year. Since then, he told me, he has been using the colouring and texturing techniques detailed on the course, and has been producing some non-utility, decorative, items, and said that at his regular craft shows he is selling three of them to one of his conventional turnings! (he must be the one of a few selling anything at the moment!)

The fact is that one style needn’t preclude another. There’s room for it all. But for me I need the challenge and interest of something new to try. If that offends the sensibilities of some, then…well, you can guess, can’t you?

Right…I’m off to paint a lump of prime burr oak with black gloss house paint and call it “Solstice”…

Pyromaniac at large…

The last few days have been a little wearing for John, the stained glass maker who shares cobwebcrafts with me, and I think all this talk of pyrography has got to him…he’s invented his own system powered by his earpiece battery…

After using the system throughout the day I can happily recommend it. As the Burnmaster was a gift off two good friends I shan’t be getting rid of it, but the woodart machine will be staying on as well. You can never have enough options can you?

Now I have two pieces to pyro this evening, so i’m off to work again now…pictures may well follow…