Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Needle Pot

Hi all,
I'm a bit late with this post, I made the needle pot that I am featuring here just over a week ago. The sharp eyed may have already seen a picture of it on the woodturning's page but I thought I'd give it a mention here. As usual time is short because my wife is always thinking of ways to keep me occupied, while I'm working on one task for her, she is busy adding to the list of other things that she need doing. On top of that, Spring is here and the garden also needs my undivided attention.

Ah well I shouldn't moan. I decided to do a needle pot, I call it a needle pot even though my wife has filled it with tooth picks. She has never been big on sewing.

Anyway, I thought a needle pot would be a change from making pens, but at the same time be relatively quick. I did a quick sketch of the shape I was aiming for and did a leaf design that I would burn into the pot with my pyrography iron.
Here's the sketch.
I would turn the wood from a 35mm square spindle that would finish up about 75mm tall. The species of wood is unknown because it came from a bag of off cuts that I recently purchased when visiting ockenden-timber.
If you haven't been to okenden timber I can recommend it. The prices are fair and it is in a beautiful part of the country on the Welsh border near Church Stoke. It takes me the best part of 2 hours to get there, but it a lovely journey.

One of the things I liked about making this needle pot was that I didn't have to hollow it out. I just put a large forstner bit into my jacobs chuck and drilled the inside out.

Once the pot was turned, I drew my leaf design onto it freehand and then burnt it in with my Peter Childs pyrography iron, using a spoon tip.
Here is a picture of the finished pot.
It looks quite nice but I'm not 100% happy with it. Firstly, the leaves on the lid are a bit bigger than the leaves on the pot and this ruins the harmony of the piece. The second thing I don't like is the colour of the leaves, they are just too bright. I would have probably been better to leave them plain but I was experimenting. I had read in a couple of places about people using sharpie markers to colour their wooden projects. This seemed to me to be a good idea and easier than messing about with stains so I thought I'd give it a go.

I was aiming for an Autumnal look, so I coloured them mostly with a light yellow marker and just put a dab of orange here and there. After applying the marker colours the pot looked pretty good, however, the problem with the colour arose as soon as I applied the first coat of finish, which in this case was CA or superglue as it is generally known.

The CA must have reacted with the colour in the marker pens and it left me with a decision to make. Should I live with the colour or should I sandpaper it off, which would take most of the pyro work with it.

I choose the former and decide to finish the pot as it was and learn by the mistake. Has it happens, my wife really likes the colour so it didn't turn out too bad. If you have and comments about the pot please let me know.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

New page added

Hi all,
 Just a quick one to let you know that I have added a new page to this blog. If you look along the tabs at the top you will see one called wood turnings; on it you will find a selection of the stuff that I have turned and burned since buying my lathe last May.

Please take a look.

I will be doing another post in a few days and I will show you a needle pot that I have just finished, which turned out really well.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Light Pull

Hi all,
Last week my wife asked me to put my newly found woodturning skills to good use and make her a light-pull for the bathroom. She wanted some flowers on it it go with the rest of the decor was the only stipulation, other than that I could do whatever I wanted.

I opted for a simple pear/gourd shape and decided to burn some daisies onto it. These would then be painted with acrylic paints to make them stand out.

Here is a picture of the turning, which was done from a piece of tulip wood. On it you will see that I have randomly burnt a daisy pattern. Also note that I have not parted it off yet because I need to put it back on the lathe to finish it. (for non woodturners, the last sentence means that the big ugly lump of the wood at the bottom isn't part of the light-pull, it is the means by which the turning is attached to the lathe.

Because of the shape of the wood, tracing daisies onto it would be very difficult so I just draw them on by hand. They are easy to draw if you follow a simple procedure.
1 Draw a small circle for the centre.
2 Draw a single petal at 12 o'clock.
3 Draw another petal the same size at 6'oclock
4 Then another at 9 o'clock
5 Then another a 3 o'clock
6 Now just fit another petal in each of the four gaps
Practice on a piece of paper first and you'll find that once you have done a 3 or 4 it will become very easy.
If you have a go at doing something like this don't be tempted to leave it like this and call it done. When I first started doing pyrogrphy I did a lot of outline work like this and was scared to do any more in case I spoiled it. Now however, I rarely leave my pyrography at the outline stage.

This photo shows how I go about shading in around the daises.
And here it is with the shading complete.
If you compare the first photo with the one above I'm sure that you'll agree that the shading in makes all the difference. The next step was to paint the daises, I use my wife's system 3 artist acrylics but any decent acrylic paint will do. Don't use watercolour paints because it will come off during the finishing process.

I know my wife likes things to be super shiny so I decided to put a CA finish on it. CA, or superglue as it is commonly known, is used for finishing turned pens, but I thought it might work on something this size just as well. Whether or not it stands up to the steamy atmosphere of the bathroom is another matter and I will let you know if it goes tits up.

Here is the finished light pull hanging in its place.
Ignore the black blob underneath because that is just the head of a screw that is holding the dado rail to the wall. Anyway, I like the pull and my wife was very pleased with it too. In fact, she was so pleased that she asked me to make two more, one for turning the shower on and another for the shower extractor fan. Ah well, it's nice to be appreciated, perhaps I'll get chance to turn another pen one day soon. If you have any comments, or questions about pyrography, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

My Method

Hi all,
I said in my last post that I would explain how I go about getting a pyrography design burnt onto a pen. Here goes.

The whole thing really starts in my head. I get inspiration from the most unlikely places, but once I get an idea I write it down or make a quick sketch. It is easy to think that I will just remember my idea, and sometimes I will. However, more often than not in days gone by, if I didn't write it down I would just forget it.

Anyway, nowadays I'm a bit more disciplined, once I have an idea, at the soonest opportunity I do a sketch of it in a book that I keep especially for my pen designs. It is a small sketch book and I have two pen designs per page.
First I draw the outline of the pen like the one on the left above. Then, I do a pencil sketch of my design. Once I am happy with the design I ink it in with a fineliner pen. This gives me a pretty good idea of what the finished pen will look like. It would be nice to be able to trace the sketch and transfer it straight to the pen, but due to the shape of the pen I find it impossible. The best way I have found is to use the sketch as a practice piece and draw the image again straight onto the pen with a pencil.

This is probably the hardest part of the process because of the shape of the pen makes it difficult to draw on. The good news is that when it comes to the burning process it is actually much easier. The reason for this is that the tip of the pyrography iron digs into the wood as it burns, and this makes it easier to do the drawing than it did with the pencil.

One of the best tips I can give you is to leave your pen attached to the mandrel while you do the drawing and pyrography work off the lathe. This will give you something decent to hold onto while you do your work on the pen.
Here is a photo of the actual pen that came from the sketch above of the pen with the harebells.
Here is another of some bullrushes (reedmace) and one with some leaves.

Here are the pens that I produced from those sketches.
Here are two more
I haven't turned the one on the left yet, but here is the one on the right which features some tulips.
And here is two more. I haven't done the one on the right yet.

So that is how I go about getting a pen design from my imagination onto a pen. They are all burnt using a Peter Child machine with a spoon tip which in my view is essential.

I burn the outlines of the images first on a medium heat setting to avoid over burn. Once the outline is done, I turn the heat up a fraction and shade in the background using a circular motion. Another tip is to blow on the iron tip as you make contact with the wood, this will help you to avoid getting dark black scorch marks on your work wherever you put your tip down first. It also helps to keep your tip moving, it is better to go over an area twice rather than to try and burn it too dark in one pass.

Like everything else in this world that is worth doing, practice as much as you can and the movement of your pyrography iron will soon become second nature.

Please feel free to use any of my designs above, all I would ask is that you send me a picture of your creation. If you have any questions please feel free to ask and any comments are welcome.