Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lathes - Towers and Things


Having decided that bowls were not ideal, I looked at some easier (smaller) work.

These kumihimo bobbins were made from green cherry wood, which was part of some prunings from my prunus sakura tree in July 2008.  They are about 40mm in diameter and about as long (~1.5").

There was no real reason for these other than practice, so I put them aside when done.  By good luck as much as anything else, these turned out well, even though the heartwood runs through all of them.  Over a year later, I made these bobbins into part of the staples of two new shawms which I will write about later.

About this time, the local (SCA) Baron and Baroness made a call for donations of largesse for use as gifts to visitors, etc to the Barony.  I had nothing in hand to offer, but it triggered an idea.

The result is shown here in the form of a pair of candle holders, being a tower on an island surrounded by a moat.

These were made from more old rimu stock left over from house building.  The platters are rather smaller than the bowls mentioned in an earlier post, and turning did not offer any major problems.

 I don't have a photo of the finished holders, showing the gilded towers on the green island surrounded by the blue water, but you can get some of the effect from the photo here, during painting.  In the "water" in the moat was some glitter paint which I initially intended as wavelets, but realised were actually reflections of the stars above.  I realised that I had recreated the content of "Long May She Stand", which is the Baronial anthem song. This made a nice narrative to accompany these presents when they were eventually given to the Baron and Baroness of Ildhafn when they stepped down a couple of years ago.

More Towers

The tower thing has some significance in the local SCA group, so I saw scope for some more work here. Having done turning mostly with well seasoned wood, I turned to using some green wood.

Here are a couple more towers as candlesticks, turned from a freshly pruned cherry branch.  The original branch was about 100mm (4") in diameter.

The turning went so smoothly, like peeling an apple.  And the finish was only about as smooth as a peeled apple.  The wood was too soft to put any finer finish on, so I put them aside to dry and harden.

I knew that shrinkage during drying was going to be a problem, so I bored out the centres to remove the heartwood and perhaps give some space to shrink into.

All for nought. A week later, things had changed as you can see.  The localised shrinkage was more than the wood could bear, and "Crack!".

So, although these turnings were ruined, it was a good learning experience.

I went back to some old wood for the next set of towers.  These were designed as decorative finials to set on top of the Baronial pavilion.  They are about 300mm high and 100mm across the base.  The wood is a locally grown oregon, with quite a pink tint, that is not very obvious in this photo.

As I found, this is not a great wood for turning.  It has softer and denser regions, and the grain tears quite easily, making it hard to get a particularly fine finish.  Since these towers would be painted, I was not too worried about this.  The photo shows plenty of filler to smooth over the nasty bits.






Once these were painted a garish canary yellow with decorative highlights in black, they were presented to the local Baron and Baroness on their accession during Canterbury Fair in 2009.



 Here they are in action, as it were.



This pretty much ran out that particular tower phase, but it may come back again.  From here, in late 2008, I went on to start making my first shawm, which has been described in the first set of posts to this blog.

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