Archive for the ‘Wood’ Category

Treen at TLCA show opening September 11th

Monday, August 31st, 2015

These smaller items will be at the Tri-Lakes show in the Affordable Art display.  We turners call this kind of work ‘treen’ or useful stuff made from trees.

The bowls are emerging from solid maple burl blocks, and carved with scalloped edges–4 or 5 inches diameter.

The canteen with the medallion is walnut, the teardrop canteen is brazilian cherry.

All of these woods are wonderful to work on the lathe.

The show is called ‘From the Earth’ and features wood art in all sizes, including furniture.

Do you Tangle?

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

It was cold and slippery the weekend of our Studio Tour holiday sale, so I brought along some blank versions of these aspen ornaments.  Nancy, Ginny, and Kathleen all spent part of the afternoon sitting by the fire, drawing their designs  on the aspen.  (See all of their work on the Front Range Open Studios page)

It turns out that Zentangle® designs are everywhere!  This creative drawing method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas.  You can find materials, instructions, and list of Certified Zentangle teachers on their website,   There are hundreds of ornaments with these types of designs on the internet.  I think ours were the most fun, however, because we made them with friends.

Time for Empty Bowls

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Dennis and I are working together to make at least 40 bowls for the fundraiser on October 9th.   100% of the $20 admission goes to the food pantry at Tri-Lakes Cares.  Years ago, when I made pottery bowls, I wondered who needed public assistance in the Monument/Palmer Lake region.  Now I know that hunger is among us, no matter where we live.    The volunteer doctor for Tri-Lakes Cares, Dr. Bob Gibbs, is our woodturning friend, and he supplies most of the wood used to make the wooden bowls at the event.

Dennis often turns the bowls, and I add some decoration.   

Once in a while, the design is already in the bowl, as with the little bird.  A knot forms his eye.

Leaves are already perfect in nature.  It is difficult to choose an arrangement that doesn’t look natural!

All of the decoration is done with woodburning and acrylic colors.  The artwork is sealed with acrylic.  Acidic foods and washing will degrade the color.   Although it is non-toxic, the artwork and finish polyurethane will eventually wear off with use.  The bowls are not dishwasher safe!

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

We have deep snow under the pine trees, but there is a whiff of Spring in the air.  I listen to the Russian Easter Overture for a reminder that Easter sometimes includes sleigh bells!   The three cupolas are an original fabric sculpture suppported by wooden bases turned from cherry.  They can earn their rent by serving as pincushions.

Wood provides a wonderful way to craft a shape for painting.  This candlestick carries two Easter Lilies and a 5″ coach-sized pillar candle with a ‘clean linen’ scent.    The design was burned and painted with acrylics on a ground of milk paint.

Inside the white lines

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Fish Cube quilt

Silk painting uses a resist line to prevent the spread of the paint.  When the resist is removed, a white line remains around each area of color.  The white lines are a record of the way the painting was done.   Block printing can also produce a white line.  American printmaker Blanche Lazell used white lines for both abstract and pictorial prints (From Paris to Provincetown–Blanche Lazell and the Color Woodcut by Barbara Stern Shapiro, 2002, MFA Publications.)
The white line is something reserved by the process.  It is related to the preservation of white areas in watercolor.  In the Lazell seascape and landscape woodcuts, it adds a light and airy element to the work.  For quilting on silk, it creates a similar watercolor feeling.  Silk is a very luminous fabric, so the white lines organize perceived light in the work.  This method is visible in photo of the Fish Cube quilt.
For a free-motion quilter, the lines become a drawing that invites a clear or white thread to give texture to the work.  As in woodcuts, the quilt is a harmony of shapes. The lines are more fluid than seams, providing the quilter with the ability to create shapes that would be difficult with patchwork.
I have recently discovered a way to convert the lines and textures of pyrography into a white line on wood.  After the design is burned and color is applied, I rub a white liming wax into the texture.  The opaque wax fills the incised lines and eliminates the heavy burn marks of the pyrography.  The photo shows a detail of a platter made of ash.

detail from turtle platter

Studio Tour inspires plans for 2013

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Lace Two Ways

Hanging quilts and bringing out woodturnings for the September Studio Tour was a great way to take stock of what I have made, show it off, and plan for new projects.

This quilt, started in a class with Katie Pasquini-Masopust in 2003, was my introduction to moving images from photos into textiles.  The small photo on the left shows a vessel decorated with the shadow of lace webbing.  I transferred the shapes and lighting in the photo to the quilt, using a palette of three colors in seven different values.

Many of my quilts started out as paintings or drawings.  Quilts bring them to life through color, texture, and levels of scale that were not possible in the original image.

Of course, this photo is also an image, so the limitations of the medium apply here, too.

Four Candlesticks

Candlesticks made of wood are something of a contradiction.  Most of the antique ones in circulation haven’t held candles, so they are the much fancier sort, in which the stick is something of a substitute for the candle in its place on the mantel.

I have been working on shapes that work to support some of the shorter, stouter candles available in the marketplace.  Some of these are quite fancy, so the candlestick should not compete for attention.  The round candles seem to work well on all of these shapes.  The three taller ones look good with standard tapers as well.

Leaves for September work

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Leaves provide everything I need to decorate a bowl or a quilt.  Already perfect in nature, they fall gracefully into a bowl, or scatter across a silk painting.  For the Studio Tour on the 15th and 16th, I will have a collection of work featuring leaves.  For all the details of the tour, go to Front Range Open Studios.

Boxelder leaves on boxelder bowl

the lightness of being

Monday, October 17th, 2011

In the five years I have been turning bowls on the lathe, I have resisted the woodturning doctrine which says that a good bowl has paper-thin walls and a shiny finish.  From my backgound making pottery bowls, I find that a functional wooden bowl even 1/2″ thick is already light compared to its ceramic counterpart!

Returning to the potter’s wheel in the past few weeks, I must admit that it is the pottery bowls that need the most help to achieve a sense of lightness, or a kind of liveliness.  Not the weight, per se, but the sense of lightness is missing from most of the bowls I have thrown over the years.

My clay bowls carry the weight of their initial forming on the wheel, which requires that the base stays stuck onto the wheelhead.  After they stiffen up, I flip them over on the same wheelhead and trim the outside of the base.  The inside, however, remains unrepentant.  The result is a series of bowls that have a somewhat squatty relationship to the table.   [and I am not the only potter who routinely achieves this outcome!]

Bringing the clay bowls to life needs at least two remedies.  The first is to find the way that clay is fundamentally different from wood, and feature that difference in the forming process.   The second is to experiment with using wood-forming standards in the clay medium.

Clay has some properties lacking in wood.  Elasticity is first among these, so I have been working with ways to stretch and shape the inside of the bowl after it comes off the wheel.  It is possible to get a very round base on the inside by stretching it with a rib.  Many traditional hand-building artists stretch or paddle the form to create a strong vessel wall of uniform thickness.  After this process is completed and allowed to dry for a bit, I then trim the base again, but this time–to match the curve of the inside.  The woodturners usually form the inside first, and then shape the outside to match, so I am transferring this thinking to the ceramic bowls.

The new bowls now have the gentle curves of a handbuilt base, and something of the lightness of their wooden counterparts.

Lightness means both weightlessness and luminosity in English.  Thinking about the question of lightness, I am reminded of Calvino’s wonderful stories about the Moon.

I was turning a very light-weight slab of spalted pecan, and I found that it was only a fraction of the weight it appeared to be–it was quite dry and very porous.  I turned it to  a shape that reminded me of the full moon, with a cross-section deep enough to be a crescent. The finish is a white matte acrylic.  It features peach-colored highlights, and eliminates the normal yellow color of pecan:

Production cycles

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Artists are some of the original dumpster divers.  William Gibson, the novelist, writes in his short story, ‘The Winter Market’ that folks who can recycle stuff into art are the one who don’t read the manuals.  I find that my grandkids are terrific at picking up pieces of cast-off stuff and seeing a new use for it.  This week I found some thin squares of aspen trimmings in the wood bin.  It was a short jump to seeing them as prototype paper pulp.  And the size was just like a post-it.  So I made a post.  The eraser is some sandpaper glued to the bottom board on the stack.  

Carpenter’s Post-It Notes

about 4″ tall, recycled aspen scraps with a post turned from maple

I won some old pine lamps in a raffle at the woodturning club several years ago.  I had never done any spindle turning, so these were some of my first turnings of that type.  When I had cut through the old finish and starting rounding off the squared-off shapes of the lamps, I found that they were made of glued-up pieces of plain construction pine.  The curves of the turning process created some ovals and curves from the glue joints.

The pine turned out to be full of knots, which added a lot to the character of the lamp.

Lamp:   ‘Naughty Pine,’  22″ tall

Christmas lamps

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Sea urchin shells always seem somewhat Victorian to me.  When they are painted, they seem very much like oil lamps.

I found the proportions for turned wooden lamp bases in a book of projects for industrial arts students published in 1926 by Earl W. Ensinger (Problems in Artistic Woodturning.)

There are endless variations on table lamp bases that make each ornament a new way to investigate spindle turning for furniture on a small scale.

The woodturning community just lost our friend, Paul Thode, who was the master of 1/3 scale furniture.  These ornaments for 2010 mark his passage for me.

The wood for these ornaments is spalted hackberry from the Owl Creek Mill in northwestern Missouri.  The lighter woods are easier to see on the Christmas tree.