Wednesday, 17 May 2017

A Pear

Hi All,
My wife does a bit of pyrography from time to time and just recently she took interest in doing it on some gourds after seeing some examples on the Internet. For those who are not sure what a gourd is, it is a strangely shaped member of the squash family, which can be dried our after contents have been removed. This provides an hard shell upon which many types of art can be applied, including pyrography. However, there is one big problem regarding gourds in the UK they rarer than having two sunny bank holidays on the trot.

Have you ever noticed how much arty crafty stuff is easily available in the USA. Well it's the same with gourds, they are easy to come by at farm shops and the like over the pond. Anyway, after realising that it was futile to carry on trying locate a supply of gourds in the UK, my wife gave me a commission. "You can turn one for me from wood," she said, "make it roughly the shape of a big pear."

Well I did has requested and turned a piece of 75mm square of lime wood into a big pear. Upon this my wife did a pyrography design and commenced burning it in.

Here it is, the finished gourdy pear thing.
It came out quite good despite my wife's complaint that the shape was all wrong. "it's too big at the top," she said, "pears don't look like that."

"It's no supposed to be a pear," I said, "its a gourd made from wood shaped roughly like a pear."

I don't know if it not being the exact shape she wanted had a bearing on the situation, but after she got about a third of the way through the pyrography, she decided she'd had enough and was ready to toss it in the bin.

"I'll finish it off," I declared, not wanting to see my lovely piece of lime wood going to waste. When it was finished my wife decided it was good enough to go on a shelf in a lounge, but there was a catch because she had another request. "I want you to make a bit of stalk to stick out of the top and then it will look like a proper pear," she said. "I thought it was supposed to look like a gourd," I replied, but then she gave me that look, No need for more word, I'll just make a stalk.

By the way, one on my books can be downloaded free from a amazon, until and including Friday 19th of May.
Just go to the books tab at the top of the page, click on the cover and you will go straight to amazon for the free download.

If you fancy having a go at the pear, please feel free to use the design above. I would love to see how you get on and a picture would be nice.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Stained Pen

Hi all,
 I was very pleased with the needle pot that I recently made. The turning was nice enough, but the finish with the coloured stains really gave the project a lift. Here's a picture of the pot for those who didn't see it.
The stains I used were from the Chestnut sample range and I think it came out very nice. In fact, I became so excited about the colouring that I decided to see if it could be done on a pen.

I chose a Zeta pen kit from Taylors Mirfield because they supply top quality kits and I wanted to do the colouring justice. The wood I used for the blank was maple, which gave a nice light base colour for the stains to sit on. The turning went well and I sanded it through to 2000 grit and applied sanding sealer just like I did for the needle pot.

So far so good, but a sack load of crap was waiting around the corner. To apply the stains I rolled up some kitchen towel and taped it around the middle so that it looked something like a short pencil. I made several of these, one for each colour.

Anyway, I applied the stains as I had done before, working very quickly and to my horror the whole lot just turned into a brown muddy mess. I tried wiping some stain off and then applying some more but it just got worse. The whole thing was a bloody mess and if that wasn't bad enough, in my panic to sort it out, I knocked a bottle of orange stain all over my bench. More panic set in and I grabbed some kitchen towel to mop it up. Of course at this point I wasn't wearing any gloves and orange stain went all over my hands. It seeped behind my nails and went everywhere. I grabbed more kitchen towel and some methylated spirits to try and clean it off but all I manged to do was dilute it. Me and the work shop looked like we'd just been Tangoed

Anyway, after cleaning up the mess I'd made, I sanded the mucky stain off the pen and did it all over again, Only this time, I did it slowly and applied much less stain with each colour.
Here's the pen.
I think it looks great and I learned a lot from my mistakes. The first lesson was, when applying stains do it slowly and methodically and do not saturate the project.
The second lesson was, put the caps back on each bottle after applying each colour so that there will be no spillages. Lastly, always wear gloves when messing with stains.

My wife has asked me to turn a pear for her next so that she can do some pyrography on it. I will show you that in my next post.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Coloured Needle Pot

Hi all, I have been watching a lot of woodturning on You Tube recently and was amazed by a video by a Scottish woodturner called Gary Lowe. It wasn't the actual woodturning that caught my eye, but the result that he got from using wood stains. If you have ever tried using wood stains you will know that they are a a difficult medium to use, especially if you are mixing colours.

Anyway, Gary amazed me with the finish he got on his project, which was as delightful as the best Moorcroft pot I've ever seen. Here is a link to the video, it is about 20 minutes long but worth every minute.

After I'd seen the video I decided to try out what he'd explained on a small project, one that I hadn't invested much time in, so if it went tits up, which some of my projects are apt to do, I hadn't wasted too much time.

So, I turned a small needle pot and sanded it within an inch of its life. Before starting this project my finest sandpaper was 600 grit, which is a bit like the stuff you put in the bottom of a budgie's cage when compare with the 2000 grit I was about to used. I think the fine sanding is one of the key points to make the colouring a success, so if you want to have a go, persevere and make that wood shine like a mirror. Go through all the grits all the way to 2000 and don't miss any out.

The second key point is the use of sanding sealer. After sanding, give it a coat of sanding sealer then give it rub down with some 2000 grit, and then give it another coat of sanding sealer. Now, some of you may be thinking that wood stain should be put on before the sanding sealer, and indeed, that is what it says on the instructions for the stains. The reason for this is that under normal circumstances you want the stain to be absorbed and sink into the wood. However, in this project, we require the stains to lie on the top on the sealer to allow each colour to be blended with the next.

Here is my finished pot.
I used  stains from the Chestnut sample range and applied them with a small pieces of scrunched up kitchen towel. A fresh piece for each colour and to hell with the cost. They were applied in this sequence.
The idea is to dab them on and let them mingle together. You need to work quickly and methodically and not get the whole thing too wet. If you do get it too wet all the colours will mix together and you will finish up with a brown pot. Ask any artist and he will tell you the easiest way to mix brown is to just add a lot of different colours together. Those of you who are old enough to remember, Plastacine (a modelling clay) will recall that when a lot of colours were mixed together the result was brown and that is the colour that most kids finished up with in their Plastacine box.

After the colours had dried I finished the pot with several coats of high gloss melamine lacquer and it came out really well.

Having been successful with this pot I thought I'd try out my new technique on a pen but that certainly didn't go to plan. I will tell you about that episode in my next post. and give you my thoughts on using melamine lacquer for a finish.