Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Mr Snuggles

Hi all,
I'm slowly getting back into doing a bit of woodwork. My first project for the year was very small but it involved a little bit of turning, some carving and a touch of pyrography. Here is the result, nothing sensational but he's kind of cute.
He's supposed to be an hedgehog that is all snuggled up for the cold weather. I've called him Mr Snuggles and my wife thinks he's lovely. He is very small, about 40cm tall and he is carved from a small block of lime wood.

The thing is, I really like carving these small pieces. Not as intricate as doing a netsuke, so they don't take up so much time. I intend to increase my skills in woodcarving to the point where I am able to carve a realistic bird but that might take some time. I have purchased a book about the subject called "Carving Realistic Birds" from amazon, written by David Tippey. I got it second hand for 1p plus P&P. I think it is a real bargain because it is a great book.

Anyway, one of the things he advocates in the book is to make a model of the bird in Plasticine before carving any wood. So I tried it on Mr Snuggles, I got a block of newplast modelling clay off
amazon for £3.65 and gave it a go. It was funny to be working with Plasticine again and it took me back about 60 years. Actually, I think this newplast stuff is better than the Plasticine we had in the old days, it models very easily.

I was well pleased with doing the model first because it only took a couple of minutes yet it gave me so much confidence before I carved it in wood. Having something in 3D to referr to made the carving process so much simpler.

For my next carving project I'm going to do a small owl before moving onto something bigger. Any comments or questions are welcome.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Just Plain Ugly

Hi all,
I'm still struggling with the cold in the workshop. Not that it is cold everyday, but as soon as the weather is nice I have other tasks to do in the garden. No matter, over the past couple of weeks I have managed to complete a project. Probably the most ugly project I have ever done, but at least I managed to accomplish something.
 So without further ado, here is a picture of the ugly bugger.

Have you ever seen such a monster of a mechanical pencil? The whole thing was an epic failure at least from an aesthetics point of view and here is how it came about.

I like to do a bit of drawing and have spent many pleasant hours during the cold winter do just that. It was while looking at pen kits on line that I saw some  mechanical pencil kits for sale on a website called Prokraft .The price looked good at £3.30 a pair I thought I give them a go and make myself a couple of really stylish pencils to do my drawing with.

I watched a you tube video  to see how it was done and found the instruction very simple. The only difficult bit is in the drilling of the hole through the centre. Not only did it need to be straight, but drills of three different thickness were needed to accomplish the task and the depth of drilling needed to be pretty accurate especially at the nib end.

This is where I came unstuck. Because I intended on doing some carving on the body, I choose a piece of lime wood and mounted it via a collet chuck.
Step one was to drill a 4 mm hole straight through the blank, this I did, using a Jacob's chuck in the tailstock, quite easily. Now here is the hard bit.
Step two required me to drill through the blank again with a 5.5mm drill, but this time, instead of dilling all the way through I would need to stop it 3 mm short of the end. Now if you can see where the end of the hole is going to be it isn't too bad, but I was dilling blind. I marked the drill bit and hoped for the best. Then another bigger drill bit, 6mm in width, was put about 75% of the way down the same hole. This gives clearance for the top of the pencil to work.

Anyway, I parted it of and found that the pen would not assemble because I hadn't got enough thread sticking through the nib end to allow me to screw the nib bit on. The reason for this was that I hadn't drill the 5.5 mm hole quiet deep enough. Easily cured I thought, I put the 5.5mm bill back in the hole and gave it a couple of twists by hand. Perhaps if it had been a harder wood I would have been alright, but because it was lime it came straight through the end.

At this point I was a bit miffed to say the least but I was not going to be beaten. I decided to make it a pencil of two halves. I would carve the back end and do some pyrography on it and make a new piece for the front. I would stick them both together and it would look great. Has you can see it didn't. The carved flowers are horrible and the sapela wood at the front end doesn't go with the pyrography at the back. The kits are great, and very inexpensive it is just my skills that are lacking. Doing a carving on something this size is out of the question beacause it make it too chunky.

However, I will not be beaten. Two kits came and two pencils I shall make. Please watch this space to see how the next one comes out.




Monday, 12 March 2018

Mirror Carp

Hi all,
 At last the weather has warmed up a bit. For a few days I thought a second ice age was upon us.
A couple of post ago I shared with you the first stages of a mirror carp that I was carving. Well I am pleased to confirm that it is finished.
I'm very pleased with the outcome. It was carved from a piece of lime using hand tools and a Dremel. I then used my pyrography iron to burn in the details. The biggest challenge was the eyes, which I made with some punched card using my wife's leather punch. It worked really well. I glued them on using Superglue and also used that to seal the cardboard. I wanted to keep the painting subtle because I didn't want it to look like plastic, so I used some diluted inks The only exception was the large mirror scales which I did with a metallic acrylic paint.

All in all it was a satisfying process and outcome and I may well do another spiecies. Now that the warmer weather is here I should be banging away at another project but it will have to wait a few days. We have just had some new garden fencing and my wife wants me to make trellis for the top so she can train some roses up it. So she has put an order in for 50 feet of the stuff, which means I'll be busy for a while. Who knows perhaps we'll get some rain and I can get back into the workshop.

By the way, 2 of my books will be free to download from Amazon over the next 3 days. The first is called "Fishing, Learn From The Tips" and the other is, "No Fishing In Here, Just Short Stories."
Please download a copy and have a laugh. All you have to do is, click on the books tab at the top of the page and then on the appropriate book cover. That will take you straight to Amazon for the download. Please enjoy and I will be back soon with another project.



Sunday, 4 March 2018

Hip Hip Hurrray

Hi All,
At last it looks like the cold weather is finally going. It's been a very cold and long winter, I'm in my sixties and can't remember a worse winter than the one that is just ending. There may have been of course, but I can't remember weather like we had last week.

The only good thing that has come out of my cold enforced with drawl from my workshop, is the fact that my art work is getting better. I have been experimenting with acrylic inks and pencil sketching.

The image above is a clematis that I did with acrylic inks. I use them like watercolours but find that the colours seem much brighter. The downside is that they dry very quickly and once dry you can't do anything with the pigment because it is permanent. That is why most watercolour artist stay away from them. To me it is a blessing, because once they are dry and permanent I can put another glaze over the top and be sure that the layer underneath won't be disturbed. In the past, when I've done this with watercolours, the bottom layer has mixed with the new layer and the whole thing turned a bit muddy. This doesn't happen with acrylic inks.

Here's a couple of anemones also done in acrylic ink.
I have also been doing a bit of sketching with a pencil.
These are fritillaries and were quite fun to do.

So I have enjoyed the benefits that the cold weather bought, but I am desperately hoping to get into my workshop this week to make some shaving. Please keep come back to see how I get on.




Sunday, 11 February 2018

Tulips

Hi All,
Sorry that it's been so long since my last post but this damned cold weather just won't go away. I know it's winter and cold weather is expected but we should have a had at least one or two decent days this year. I guess I've spent about three hours in the workshop since Christmas and I'll show you the results in a minute.

You may be wondering how I'm spending my free time while I'm not turning, carving or burning wood. Well the answer is, I've been concentrating on drawing and painting. I'm getting old now and unable to stand at the lathe all day so I need a hobby which allows me to be seated. My thinking is that over the next few years I will do less turning and more artwork.

Anyhow, let me show you a couple of the arty things I've done while taking advantage of the cold weather. Here's a couple of tulips that I did recently and I'm quite pleased with them.

The tulips are very colourful but sometimes it is nice just to do a sketch using graphite and pencil. Here's a couple of fritillaries done using that medium.
Right, going back to the three hours that I managed in the workshop, here's what I've got to show for it.
I'm having a go at carving a small wooden carp that is about 2.5 inches long.
Here it is after cutting it out on my new scroll saw.
After that I managed to carve the main shape and sand it down a bit. I have also marked out the space for the eye.
For those of you who don't recognise the shape, it is going to be a mirror carp and I' hopefully going to do the scales with a gilding past. Not sure how that will work out and I'm not sure about the eyes either. Should I buy some, try making some out of resin or just paint them in? I'm not sure myself yet so please watch this space to find out.

I've got lots of projects waiting to be tackled as soon as the weather warms up, I'll keep my fingers crossed, perhaps it will be next week.




Sunday, 21 January 2018

Last Earings

Hi all,
You may be pleased to note that this will be the last earring post for the foreseeable future. Not that there is anything wrong with earrings, but I need a change.

Here is a pair I turned from a walnut pen blank.
They came out rather well and look quite nice on my wife. I also made a pair out of an ebony pen blank; I love working with this wood. I wanted a white band in the earrings to contrast with the black of the ebony, so I cut a thin groove with my thin parting tool and filled it with white Milliput. Milliput, if you don't know, is a two part epoxy putty. You simple mix equal amounts of the two parts, fill the hole, or in this case the groove. Then leave it overnight to let it set, then you can carry on turning in the normal way.

Here are the finished earrings.

They look quite classy even though I do say it myself. So that was it for the end of the year and since then I've only managed one other items. It has taken the best part of three weeks to complete because the amount of time I can spend in my igloo cum workshop has been hampered by the ridiculously cold weather we have had this winter. Or am I just getting nesh?

Anyway, I decided to have a go at turning a pen and carving a snake on it.
The markings are done with my pyrography iron and I think it came out well. I'm not sure about the head of the snake, I think that could have been better, but for a first attempt it isn't bad, certainly a change from earrings.

By the way, the inspiration for the snake came from a You Tuber called Mike Stinnett, who carves snakes on walking sticks. Here's a link to one of his fantastic videos

So that is us up to date. Rumour has it that we might be getting some warmer weather this week so I might be creating something. Not sure what yet but if you come back in a few days who knows what you might find.

If you've got any comments on the snake or anything else please let me know.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Earings and Pendant

Hi all,
The weather is still grey and cold and my workshop is still colder than a penguin's pecker. I haven't turned a stick since Christmas and I'm getting lathe withdrawal symptoms. I promised to show you a few of the jewelry items that I turned for my wife's surprise Christmas presents so I will do that shortly. However, before that I'll show you what I've been doing indoors to keep myself sane.

Some of you may already be aware that I like doing a bit artwork. Not that I'm good at it, but it keeps me happy and in the warm. I'm trying to improve my skills by doing a bit of a sketch everyday and here is one of the first that I have done.
It's a goldfinch painted using Winsor and  Newton water colour markers. I hadn't used watercolour markers before, and to be honest, I couldn't understand why anybody would use them instead of traditional watercolour paint. My wife gave me a a set of 12 for Xmas so I had to give them a go. Actually, I was quite surprised at how easy they are to use and so very convenient, especial if like me, you have a shortage of working space. All you have to do is put a bit of colour down and then blend it in with a waterbrush. They work like magic and I'm very pleased with them,

The reason I did a bird was, (if ever the weather warms up) I'm going to have a go at carving a bird out of wood, so I thought that drawing one or two would give me a feel for the shape when the time comes to get my knife out.

Right, back to the jewelry I made my with for Christmas. The first is a pair of earring, turned from a piece of sapele and burnt with a wire.
They came out quite nice although I did have trouble with the CA glue finish. I had to revert to friction polish to get a good shine.

The next thing I made was a pendant, which the photograph below fails to show properly.

Although it doesn't look like it on the picture, I can assure you that it is perfectly smooth with a CA finish that came out like glass. It is a really nice thing and just goes to show what can be turned by sticking a couple of pieces of 6mm plywood together.

I'll save the other two pair of earrings for my next post because I've seen this weeks weather forecast and it's going to be another cold one. Roll on Spring and I might be able to get some more turning done.