Monday, 31 December 2018

Pyro Santa

Hi all
I managed to carve a Santa for my wife for Christmas without her finding out. This wasn't easy because it took about two months to complete using most of my spare time.
Here it is.

He was carved from a piece of lime. The lantern and robin were carved separately and stuck on at the end.  To throw my wife off the scent whilst carving it I pretended that I was doing a carving on a walking stick. Each time I heard the door to the workshop opening I would stick the Santa up my jumper and start carving the stick.

In the end, I almost ran out of time because I underestimated how long it would take to do the pyrography. In fact, it took several hours and almost as long as the carving itself. It would be more difficult to do pyrography in secret because of the smell, so again I pretended I was working on another project, this time burning flowers on a wood egg.

Anyway I got away with it and her face was a picture when she opened it on Christmas morning.

I hope you like it, any questions please feel free to ask.

To celebrate the new year, I am giving away downloads of my book "Bossyboots." To get a free copy and have a good laugh please click this link.

This is probably the last time this book will be offered for free because I an removing it from the Amazon "select" programme.

So let me wish you all good health a peaceful new year.

Thursday, 13 December 2018


Hi all
Just a quick one. I was hoping to show you the carving that I'm doing, but work on it has been very spasmodic due to other commitments. However, it is now coming along fine and I will be putting up pictures of it in my next post. The carving is mostly complete, so it just need some pyrography and finishing.

One thing I have managed to get on with is my latest drawing. I am doing a set of three to put in some frames I got from a charity shop.

Here is the second picture in the series which is about flowers growing on trellis. This is one of some bindweed that was partly inspired by a photo and the rest came from my imagination.
I am pleased with the way it came out. I used 4 pencils to complete the drawing: a9B, 3B, H and 2H
The images measure 5 inches square or 125mm square in new money.

The paper is Arches hot pressed watercolour paper, which I can thoroughly recommend if your aim is to get a very dark blacks.

You may be wondering how come I can manage to do drawing, but struggle to get on with other creative projects like turning wood and carving etc. Well the simple answer is that I reserve time in the evening for drawing and that is not affected by the temperature and other commitments at the moment.

Please watch out for my next post which will include some woodcarving and pyrography.

Just a reminder, here is the first drawing in the series.

By the way, I have surprise coming your way. I am going to have a go at something completely different. All will be revealed in due course but I can't let you know until after Santa's done his rounds.

Thursday, 6 December 2018


HI all,
My woodworking output is very poor at the moment. It is too cold in the workshop even though I purchased an oil filled radiator. The radiator is okay, perhaps not as warm as I would have liked, but it is slow to warm up, so if I am going into the workshop I need to switch it on about a hour before I go in there and stay for a couple of hours to make it worthwhile. The problem is, like everybody else I am very busy at this time of year so can only snatch small chunks of time for crafting. Having said that, I have managed to finish the carving of a fridge magnet Santa.
He looks quite good and doesn't suffer from the flat face that my other carvings have suffered from. I'm giving it to my wife for an extra Christmas present so I hope she likes it.

So my main creative time at the moment is going into drawing. I manage to snatch a couple of hours each evening before settling down in front of that hopeless little box in the corner. I started pencil drawing last winter and did some roses that I was quite happy with.

These are the roses that I did last year. The only issue I have with them now is that they were drawn with a plain white background and they look incomplete. So I am now experimenting with a dark background which I think gives an image a bit more character.

Here is the first of a series of pencil drawings of climbing plants. This one is a clematis, Montana growing on a trellis and was based on a photograph taken in our back garden.
I'm not sure if it is better than the roses but I think it is more realistic. I would love to know what you think about the two images. Which do you like best?

Besides the background colour there is also another difference and that is in the paper. The rose picture was drawn on Bristol board paper, which is very smooth and incredibly nice to draw on.
The clematis drawing was completed on Archie's hot pressed paper, which although smooth does have a bit of tooth. The reason for choosing the Arches paper was because I wanted a really dark background and after a few tests I found that it was possible to get a much darker black on the Arches than it was on the Bristol board.

Having finished the image I now realise the darkness came at a price. Because the paper has more tooth it does look more grainy and I'm not sure I like that.

My intentions are to do a series of 3 drawings with the theme of flowers growing on a trellis so I will use the Archie's paper for the next 2 to give the series some continuity. However, when they are complete I will probably go back to the Bristol board with some carbon pencil which should give me a darker finish.

In my next post I hope to be able to show you the second flower in this series complete and in its frame.

One really important tip I would give anybody who is is thinking of having a go at drawning. Please don't use cheap sketch pads or paper from your computer. The pads they sell in shops for sketching, are in my opinion, just not good enough for proper drawing. Give yourself half a chance and get a small Bristol board pad for about a fiver. That way you may find that drawing isn't so difficult after all.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Desk Pen

Hi all,
I managed to get into the workshop and turn the desk pen set I was making. Not only that, I also managed to do some pyrography on it and paint it.

Here it is in all its glory.
The pen is just short of 10 inches long but it really makes a statement.
I turned it from lime wood using three lots of tubes to give it some rigidity. The joints are obviously under the first three round bulges. The black line that has been burnt in, hides the joints.

I used the index facility on my lathe to allow me to produce a symmetrical pattern. It was then just a matter of carefully burning in the pattern with my pyrography iron. I used a spoon tip which is ideal for burning lines on curved surfaces like a pen.

Here's another picture.

In this picture you can see that the pen is powered by an humble Biro and that might be a disappointment to some people, but to me it makes sense.

The advantages of using a Biro are as follows.
The reliability of the Biro is amazing, the company has been making pens for years so they are very reliable. If it runs out of ink, all I have to do is take one from another Biro, so it couldn't be simper or cheaper.

 The other issue is that I have made a lot of kit pens, given a few away and have lots of others dotted about my house. Unfortunately, I have to report that a few of the kit pens have stopped working because the mechanisms have packed up. I probably got them from the wrong supplier and because I used several I don't know which ones gave up the ghost. Anyway, I have lost confidence in pen kits and I'm just pleased that I only ever sold one.

Not sure what I am going to do next, but please watch this space. Any comments on the pen are welcome.

Just one last thing, one of my fish books, "Learn From The Tips And Laugh At the Tales"

will be available for a free download from the 27th of November until the 1st of December. To go straight to amazon for the download please click here.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Another Santa

Hi All,
I thought I'd be showing you my latest woodturning in this post, but I'm afraid I haven't quite finished it yet. I've done the actual pen but it seems a shame to show you that without its base. I will endeavour to get it done in the next few days because I can't wait to show it off.

In the meanwhile, I've had a go at carving some faces that are not flat. I want to do a special Santa Clause for my wife for Christmas, so I need to get some practise in.

Here's arandom face I did to improve the shape.
It's a bit rough but I was more concerned about the shape than the actual finish. It's a bit bigger than my usual whittles so the next thing to do was something small. And, seeing as the whole exercise is based around Santa, I thought I try another small one and make it into a fridge magnet. My wife can have that at Christmas too as a little surprise.

He's not painted yet or finished good enough for my painting plans, but at least the shape is there. I especially like the hat.

Doing these quick carvings can be enlightening because although he is pretty good, I can see plenty of room for improvement. Here are a few things I don't like.
1 His nose is too big.
2 He looks a bit grumpy. (perhaps because his nose is too big)
3 The gap between the bottom of his moustache and his nose is fraction too wide.
4 His forehead is slightly too big.
5 His face is too long, Santa has a round chubby face.

Anyway, I'll give him a bit of paint and I'll show you the finished item in my next post.

The next thing I need to do is make a model of the Santa I intend to do for my wife. I will make one out of plasticine and then I can get on with the carving process. It's only about 5 weeks to Crimbo so I need to get on with it. I also have feeling that the weather is going to get much colder so I will be spending less time in the workshop. I have just remebered that I said I'd do a review on the oil fill radiator that I've recently purchased, well, it's beens so mild I haven't used it yet. Perhaps next week.

Anyway, we haven't had a bad winter so far so let's hope it continues. The last thing we need is another beast from the East like we had last year.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Wooden Vase

Hi all,
At last I managed to do a bit of woodturning, nothing very big but at least I produced something. Here it is.
Like I said it's not very big, approximately 6 inches tall. It is a new shape to me and I think it looks quite elegant. I'm afraid the picture doesn't do the wood justice but in real life the grain really pops. I know some of you will want to know what species of wood it is turned from but I' afraid I don't know. I purchased the wood some time ago and the bit with the label got cut off when I used it on another project.

This vase is the first of  several vases of a similar size that I'm doing for a display cupboard to heat my wife purchased recently. My plan is to turn vases of various shape, using various wood and I might even do some inlay work on some of them. It's nice to have a list of things in the pipeline, because it avoids procrastination. Having purchased an oil filled radiator to keep my workshop warm this winter I will have plenty of stuff to get stuck into.

Talking of heaters, I did say I would do a review on the heater mentioned above, but to be honest, I haven't used it yet because the temperature has gone up. As soon as we have another cold snap I will do the review.

On the lathe at the moment I have a long pen, (10 inches).

I'm still not sure what method of decoration to use on it. It might be pyrography, but there again it might be colour. I hope to put the finish pen up on my next post so we will see.

Last  but not least, I have reduced the price of one of my paperback books. It is the first one in the Fishing Detectives series and is called "Carp Rustlers". It's a fun book and you don't even need to be an angler to enjoy it. Here is the link if you are interested.

In my next post I should also have a bit of carving to show you, hopefully I will have solved the flat face problem.

If you want to see more of my stuff, woodturning, woodcarving, pyrography or art please take a look at my website by clicking here.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Father Christmas

Hi all,
I managed to finish the carving of the Santa shelfie and gave it to my wife to paint. Here is the finished article.
Front view
He looks pretty good from that angle even though I do say it myself. However, the side view isn't quite so clever. The sack is alright but the face lets it down again.
The problem is that once again I have carved a flat face. I know I've said it before, but a flat face is the trade mark of a novice carver. The mitt, the boots and the rest are okay, but the face lets it down. The strange thing is, I carved a really nice Santa face on a piece of scrap wood for practise, so I thought I'd got it sorted. To be honest, I think the problem arose because I put the face too far back on the body which didn't allow me to take off enough wood on the face.

Well that's my excuse we'll see what the next one come out like.

I said I was going to turn a vase and I've got one on my lathe, but it is so cold in the workshop I've abandoned the project in the short term. To resolve the situation, I've ordered an oil filled radiator and when that comes I'm hoping my workshop will be toasty. I will do a review on it when I've got it running because I know a lot of people have trouble with cold workshops at this time of the year.

I hate the cold weather so here is a clip to a nice warming video of my garden which I filmed earlier this year.

Thursday, 25 October 2018


Hi all,
In my last post I showed you the model of Shelfie Santa thatI had made from Plasticine to aid with the carving of one from wood. It has been a bit of a long haul, but today I finished most of the carving.
I've still got to texture his beard with a vainer and the wife is going to paint it. Overall, I'm very pleased with how it has gone even though it was hard work. I started with a square piece of lime wood and due to the odd shape I had to remove a lot of material.

Here is a picture of the Plasticine model and the carving side by side.
The only thing I don't like about the carving is that the face came out a bit flat. This apparently is the hall mark of a novice carver so I'm running true to type.

I have done several carving now and I'm quiet surprised to find that I enjoy carving with a knife, more enjoyable than power carving. I do use a Dremel in a flexi-shaft for a bit of sanding and, tidying up with diamond burrs, but I prefer not to use burrs for major material removal. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I don't feel as I have half as much control when using the burrs and secondly. there is something deeply satisfying about removing wood with a knife. Perhaps it is just instinct, or an urge from our predecessors when a knife was used for many thing, not least survival.

The biggest problem with knife carving for me is that if I do it for too long my wrist begins to ache so I have to limit my carving to about a hour a day. No matter there are plenty of other things to get on with that keep my creative juices flowing.

While I was resting from the Santa, I was doing another egg for my collection. This one is meant to be a bit like cherry blossom. I drew the flowers and leaves on by hand and then outlined them with my pyrography iron using a spoon tip. Then I painted the flowers using Derwent Intense blocks. I used Inktense because they have a brilliant range of colours and when they dry they are permanent.

After the painting, I gave it several coats of melamine lacquer to protect it and give it a bit of shine.

Just a reminder, if you want to see more of my creative work, which includes, woodturning, woodcarving, pyrography and artwork, please visit my website and take a look at the galleries.

Not sure what will be in my next post yet, but I feel the need to spin some wood so it might be a vase.

Thursday, 18 October 2018


Hi all,
I haven't done much turning lately due to a succession of jobs that the wife wanted me to do, including the sighting of a freestanding cooker, but more about that later.

First I would like to show you my new shelfie.
I carved it from lime and allowed my wife the pleasure of painting it. She did a good job eventually. I say eventually, because her first attempt was dire. She did it in dark green and red which made it look glum. I had to sand all the paint off and let her do it again. Anyway, all is well that ends well and it now looks very nice in the bathroom.

My next carving is going to be a Santa shelfie but I have a feeling it is going to take quite a while to do it. I've gone as far as making a model from Plasticine.
If you are thinking of doing any carving I can tell you that making a little model is invaluable.

I've also got it in my mind to turn another long desk pen that I have just started so I will show you that in my next post as long as my wife doesn't come up with too many jobs.

Last week saw me fitting a new freestanding cooker. The old one was built in with a separate hob which meant that I had to cut the work surface. I didn't fancy the task one bit but had no choice because the electrician, who was disconnection the supply to the old cooker and wiring up the new one, said he didn't cut work surfaces in case something went wrong.

The jig saw that came with my second wife 25 years ago didn't look like it was going to do a good job of cutting a straight line so I shelled out £40 for one from Screwfix . It said it had a laser light for accurate cutting, I thought this was just a gimmick but it worked well beyond my expectations and the job was a success. The only sad part was the fact that I purchased 2 metal strips to go on the ends of the work surface between cooker and the work surface. I paid £8 each for them from B&Q which I thought was a bit steep for a very thin piece of metal.

Anyway, I cut them to length, smeared them with a bit of sealant and screwed them on. I then found out that the gap where the cooker was going was now too narrow to accept it. I do wish designers would get their act together. The cabinet carcass I took out was 600mm wide and the cooker I purchase was 600mm wide which meant there was no space between for the metal strips which were only 1mm thick. If I was designing a cooker to fit in a 600mm gap I would make it 595mm wide to give the customer a couple on mm to play with.

Ha well, it's in now. If anybody wants to buy a couple of work surface endstrips in black, please let me know.

Lastly, I just want to let you know that I have revamped my website. It was very confusing before and now I have made it better. It is now easy to find pictures of my work in galleries. If you go there you will find galleries for my woodturnings, pyrography, artwork and carvings. Here's the link please take a look an let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Book and Egg

Hi all,
Just a quick one to let you know one of my books "The Reluctant Pom" is currently free to download from Amazon. Here is the link. Please grab a copy now and have a good laugh.

I mentioned in my last post that I was doing another Pyrography egg, this time with a harebell design. Well here it is, finished with several coats of melamine lacquer.
It has come out really well and you can see that I have used the none outline method and I think it works really well. Please let me know what you think.

Well that's it for now, short and sweet because I just didn't want you missing out on a free book. The free offer is open from today until Saturday, I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, 5 October 2018

yellow pen and shelfie

Hi all,
In my last post I said I would show you the pen I was about to turn and another shelfie. Well here is the pen.
Yellow and black and puts me in mind of wasps, of which there are many at the moment. I keep a swatter by my side at all times whilst sitting in the garden. I know there a few people who are of the opinion that if you leave wasps alone they wont hurt you, well if you think that, I' sorry , but it is only a matter of time before you get stung. My mother in law and my step daughter were both in the live and let live camp until they were stung this year. Suddenly they have gone off wasps.

Anyway, back to the pen. It wasn't supposed to be that colour. When I first turned it and cut in the beads I tried to make it look like basket weave. So, I coloured in a pattern with red and black markers and left some of the squares the natural wood colour. I'll be honest with you, it was crap, so I lightly turned the colours away and re did the pyrography lines. I'm very pleased with the pyrography, the long lines were marked out using the indexing facility on my lathe, and burnt in with my Peter Childs pyrography iron. The lines which go around the pen were burnt in by holding a piece of veneer in the groove that was left by the beading tool. The colouring was done with a yellow Winsor and Newton pro marker and I think it has come out rather well.

Right, onto the Shelfie. This one is a little bit smaller than the first one I did and he has his eyes under his hat. I made it small because I wanted to see what he looked like painted.
Here is the original that I recently posted.
And here is the new one, which I have painted.
Not sure which is best, so I'm going to do one the same size as the first and paint that to see what it looks like. I'm also working on a new pyrography egg for my collection. This one has a harebell design on it. I will hopefully show you them in my next post. My only problem at the moment is time. My mrs has a list of jobs for me to do including fitting a new cooker. Not an easy job because it will entail cutting a space in the work surface, please keep your fingers crossed for me and I will tell you how I got on in my next post.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018


Hi All,
Sorry I know it's been a couple of weeks since I've done a post but I have been really ill with the cold from hell. I'm getting on for seventy years old and I've had my fair share of colds and never resorted to calling them the flu, I've had the flu and believe me it is twenty times worse than a cold. Anyway, this cold was the worst I've ever had, it lasted almost, 3 weeks so you can tell how bad it was.

Still, I did manage to do a bit of whittling. I wanted to try more figure carving, so I followed a video on youtube made by a carver called Gene Messer. Below is the result and not bad considering he doesn't show any pictures at the beginning, so you have no idea what the finished result is supposed to look like. until you are done. I call the figure "The foreman" miserable as sin and hands in his pockets is what most people think of when you mention a foreman.

If you fancy having a go, here is a link to the video.

I quite enjoyed following the video and I picked up a few tips along the way, and armed with that information I decided to have a go at doing a shelf sitter of my own design. If you are not familiar with the term "shelf sitter," it is just something that sits on the edge of a shelf usually with the legs dangling down. I don't like the term shelf sitter so I called mine a shelfie.

He was carved from a piece of 1.5 inch square lime wood.
I think he looks kind of cute even though his face is a little bit flat. Flat faces are the trade mark of the novice figure carvers, so I've obviously got a lot to learn. I have been surprised by how much help there is on youtube for  those who would like to carve figures. I would recommend it to anybody because it has all the ingredient of a great pastime.

1) Very little equipment is required, a carving knife that cost about £9 and a carving glove that cost a fiver. is all you need to get started. You will need a lump of wood of course but you can start with pine from your nerest DIY shop.

2) It takes up very little space. You can even do it in the lounge if you want to by catching all the shaving on a lap tray. While the weather has been sunny I have been sitting on a chair in the garden whittling away without a care in the world.

3) It is a great hobby for those who want to be creative. You can either follow plans and patterns from books or design something of you own.

4) Your creations can be used to decorate your own home, used for gifts or even sold.

5) Raw materials in the form of Lime wood is relatively cheap especially in small sizes if you get it from a proper timber merchant like G and S timber.

Anyway, it is certainly one of the best hobbies that I have tried and I've tried quite a few.

So what's next? Well I've got a yearning to turn another pen and I've had thoughts about that shelfie. Part of me wants to paint it because I think it might look better, but I'm worried about spoiling it. So I will probably do a similar one and see how it looks when it has been decorated. I will show you them both in my next post.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018


Hi All,
Just a quickie to you know that I have a free book offer running that might be of interest to some of you. The book is called "Carp Rustlers" and is the first in a series featuring, "The fishing Detectives."

Please download a free copy from Amazon and have a good laugh. I hope you enjoy it. To get your free copy just follow this link.

The book will only be free until Saturday 15th of September so why not do it now.

By the way, I've also finished another pen that should have been turned from a piece of holly. The bloke next door knew I did a bit of wood turning, so when he cut down a small holly bush he asked me if I wanted the trunk. You could hardly call it a trunk because it was only about an inch and a half thick at the most. Anyway, I accepted it and promised to make him a pen from it. This was about a year ago, I knew it would be no good doing it straight away because the wood would be too wet and it would crack when it dried out.

Anyway, I left it for about a year and then at the week-end I decided to give it a go. I cut two pieces to be used for pen blanks, turned them down a bit and then drilled the holes for the tubes. At this point I didn't know if the wood would still crack, so I didn't glue the tubes in yet because I didn't want to wast them. I decided I'd wait a couple of days and see what happened. Well I'm glad I did because the very next day one of the blanks had a big split in it.

I know some people get pleasure from turning wet or unseasoned wood, but I'm getting too old to be bothering with wood the splits. So now on it will be season wood only for me.

To rescue the situation, I made a pen from fully seasoned piece of lime.
The black lines are pyrography and the colouring was done with markers. It then had several coats of melamine lacquer. Looks nice enough for me and the bloke next door said he was chuffed with it so everybody is happy. I've been doing a bit more carving and will show you that in my next post.
PS, Don't forget to download the book.

Saturday, 8 September 2018


Hi all,
Some of you may know that I purchased a lathe so that I could turn my own pieces of wood for my pyrography projects. It has worked out very well but sometimes there is no need to bother with wood turning at all. Recently, my wife ordered some eggs off Amazon with a view to painting them, I said I could turn her some but didn't want to put me to trouble. When the eggs arrived I was amazed at the quality and the price so I nicked one for a bit of pyrography.
I drew on some honeysuckle and set about it with my pyrography iron and it came out well. The price of the eggs was so cheap and certainly not worth me making them on the lathe. Here is the link on Amazon

These eggs are perfect for pyrography and I have decided to do a bowl full of them to sit on our coffee table with a variety of designs. I did another one almost straight away, but this time a drew a random flower pattern on the egg.
I also tried a different pyrography technique. Usually, and in the case of the honeysuckle egg, my process is to draw the flowers and leaves and then outline them with my spoon tipped pyrography iron. I then shade in the rest.

However, for this flower pattern, I didn't bother with outlining and just went straight in with the shading. It is hard to pick up the difference from photos, but in reality it gives a much more pleasing effect. It certainly takes away some of the harshness and leaves the object smooth to the touch. I shall be trying it again soon.

If there is one difficulty with doing pyrography on eggs, it is the finishing part. I like to give mine a couple of coats of melamine lacquer to give them some shine and protection, but they are difficult to hold whilst applying to lacquer. So seeing that I'd decided to do a bowl full of them, I made myself a little jig to make the finishing easier.
Here it is in all its glory. A couple of nails glued into dowels and a frame to support them. It only took about a hour to make and works wonderfully.

All comments welcome.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Carving a Whoot

Hi All,
I've been busy doing something a little bit different. My wife has written a children's book about some imaginary creatures called Whoots. That's fine, the only trouble is she has asked me to illustrate it for her. It will be a bit of a challenge because although I'm not bad when it comes to drawing trees and flowers etc, I'm haven't got a clue when it comes to figures, especially ones that reside in somebody else's head.

I did manage to draw something along the lines that she thought would suit the illustrations in her story, but it was very static. So to give me some assistance when it comes to drawing figures in more active poses and not just in profile or a front view I thought I would carve a set of figures and use them for the basis of any future drawing.

I hope that all makes sense.
Anyway, here is the first character from her book. His name is Samlore.
He is carved/whittled from a piece of lime and his clothes are accentuated with pyrography. Basically he is a bit of a doggy type thing in a posh blokes clothes. He isn't anything special but the Mrs likes him. Now all I have to do is a full family of them

I'm finding this whittling/carving quite interesting. I does keep the grey matter turning as you try to imagine the shapes you are trying to create. I also find it very soothing for the soul. Perhaps it's because some of it takes me back to my childhood. Having spent my younger years in the countryside, I always had a knife and was always whittling things out of wood.

 It's funny how times have changed because back then most of us lads had pen knives and some of us had sheath knives that we wore attached to our belts. There was never any trouble and nobody ever got stabbed, but now kids can get locked up for even daring to look at something with a sharp blade.
It's a shame how the world has gone, but that's life.
 I am now halfway through doing some pyrography on a wood egg, so I will show you that in my next post. Eggs are great for pyrography and all sorts of decoration plus they are cheap. I'll give you a link in my next post.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Triffid Desk Pen

Hi all,
I finally managed to finish the desk pen that I started a few week ago. It has been a long process but I believe it turned out alright. So here it is, What do you think?

My wife isn't sure about it. "It's either great or hideous," she said then started laughing. That knocked my confidence a bit so I put images of it on a couple of forums to see what other users thought and almost everybody liked it. One thing is for sure, there isn't another one like it anywhere. in the whole while world and that feels good.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I like it. Granted it might not be every body's cup of tea but they don't have to live with it. The thing is, I've now started getting other ideas for long desk pens and holders so keep an eye on this space, you never know what will turn up.

The project I'm working on at the moment is something completely different. A couple of years ago my wife wrote a children's book, but before publishing can happen it needs illustrating. I volunteered for the job but then realised I didn't know how to draw figures. I'm okay with roses, flowers and that sort of stuff but when it comes to figures I haven't got a clue. To make matters worse, the characters in her book are in her imagination so trying to get that down on paper is very difficult.

So, my solution is to make a set of wooden figures that I can then use as models for the illustrations in the book. Might be a daft idea but I've started the first one and will show it in my next post.

Any questions or comments please fire away.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Back Trouble

Hi all,
I'm afraid there's been little progress on the desk pen. I did have the flower head on my lathe but then I managed to do my back in, so any further turning was out of the question. I've had a back issue for years now and ever now and again the muscles feel like they've snapped and it takes about a week to get straight again. The thing is, I wasn't even doing any lifting at the time, I'd just bent over to pick up a piece of paper and that was it.
Here's how I left the project on the lathe. You can see how the flower is taking shape.
You have to imagine the flower siting on top of the base.
With the pen sticking out of it.

While my back has been bad I've tried to keep productive with things that I can do while sitting.
To that end, I thought I'd have a go at a bit of whittling. I had seen this guy called Doug, on youtube and he does some great little figures. I'll put a link to his channel at the end of this post.

One of the things he whittles, he calls a 5 minute wizard and here's how I got on with it.
It took me longer than 5 minutes but I was well pleased with the result. It is carved from a piece of lime about 1 inch or 25mm square.

I found there was something very enjoyable about whittling, not least because it requires few tools and can be done whilst sitting down without even the need for a table. I just sat on a chair in the back garden and whittled away like an old cowboy. In fact I found the the whole process so soothing that I purchased a book about carving Santas by a man called Tom Wolff and did this one of his.

It was just a bit of fun and I was more concerned about the process than the finished product, but it ain't too shabby. He's the miserablist looking santa you ever saw, but perhaps he just hates chimneys.
I was amazed at how much detail I could get into a small carving with just a knife. My head is now full of ideas for whittlings which will incorporate turning and pyrography so please keep watching this blog if you want to see how I get on.

A word of warning, If you are tempted to have a go at whittling, please purchase a safety glove because slashing a finger is not something you want to do.

In my next post, if my back allows, I should have a desk pen set to show you, so I'm looking forward to that.
 Here the link to Doug Outside's channel please enjoy.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Pen Holder

Hi All,
The desk pen and holder are coming on well, especially now that the horrible hot weather has gone.
I know some like it hot, but I find it unpleasant and it stops me doing creative things.

Anyway here's a reminder of what I was hoping to carve out of wood.
This is a model made from Plasticine which will give me an idea about how to create the right shape when I carve it from wood. I hadn't got a chunk of lime wood that was big enough so the first thing I did was to stick three pieces together.
I then drilled a hole in the middle to accept the stalk. After that I drew a sketch on the wood and then began roughing it out to make sure everything was going where I wanted it.
I know it looks like a load of crap at this stage, but I was hoping it would get better once I'd started some proper carving.
Now it's starting to look like something half decent. I've also done a trial run of some pyrography texture which will form a backdrop for the leaves. I do all the carving with a mixture of tools, knives and a Dremel. I know there a purist carvers out there who use either hand or power tools, but I'm getting to old for that sort of stuff. I just go for the tool that will do what I want it to do, be it a traditional chisel or a power tool.

Here it is after the carving was finished and the pyrography was done.
I'm very pleased with how it has turned out. Now all I have to do is turn a long elegant pen and then carve a flower for it to fit into.

If you are interested in the outcome please watch this space and if you have any comments or questions they will be welcome.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Desk Pen

Hi All,
My next project will involve several skills. Drawing, pyrography, wood turning and carving. I is probable my most ambitious project so far .What I have in mind is a desk pen with a pen holder in the shape of a flower
The pen itself will be long and hopefully elegant and carry a pyrography pattern of leaves.
The base and pen holder will be the most difficult because it will have carved leaves and a flower to hold the pen.

The first thing I did was have a practise run to see if I could turn a longer than average pen and to see what my intended pyrography design would look like. The pen below was turned from a piece of lime and had a hole drilled into it to take a Bic pen insert.
The pen above is 7 inches long and about the limit that I can achieve in one piece. The problem with going longer is the drilling. I have an extended drill bit, but once the drill goes past about 5 inches, it starts to wonder off centre because it tends to follow the softest path in the grain of the wood. This means that to make the longer pen that I had in mind, I would have to make it thicker if I was to avoid turning into the drilled hole which would be at an unknown depth in the blank.

A thicker pen didn't fit in with what I had in mind so I decided on a compromise. When I make the actual pen, which will be about 10 inches long, I will make it in 3 sections. It will be much easier to drill straight holes through blanks which are just over 3 inches long each.

Having sorted what I was going to do with the pen part of the project I turned my attention to the base. The first thing I did was make a model of what I had in mind from some Plasticine. It won't be exact but will give me a good idea of how to go on when it comes to the carving. I am relatively new to carving and this will be something new to me. Anyway, here's the model of what I have in mind.

The hole in the middle is where the stalk that will hold the flower will  go. All I've got to do now is make it out of wood. Please keep an eye in this space for updates.

Thursday, 19 July 2018


Hi All,
I said in my last post that I was going to make a couple of pens to give away as gifts. Well here's the first that I turned from a piece of lime.
It's click pen with a Harlequin design. Most small pens have a twist mechanism that I don't particularly like so I thought I'd have a go at a clicker. Unfortunately, click pens have a bad reputation because according to some turners the click mechanism isn't very reliable. Only time will tell with this pen, which is working fine at the moment. It was going to be a gift for a friend but when my wife saw it, she bagsied it and said I could make my friend another pen. Charming.

For those that are interested, the dark lines are burnt in with my Peter Childs pyrography iron, using a spoon tip. And the colours are Winsor and Newton pro colour markers. I find it much easier to use markers rather than painting the colour or stain on with a brush. The black pyrography lines help to stop any bleed between the colours.

The second pen I made for my mother in law. She likes bright things so I made her a happy pen.
She thought it was great, she loved the colours and said that the extra thickness made writing much easier with her 85year old hands.
Details are the same as the first pen. Turned from a piece of lime, black line burnt in, this time with a wire while the pen was still on the lathe. And the colours were the same as the pen before. In both cases, the finish used was melamine.

The happy pen doesn't have a mechanism. The ink is supplied via a bic pen. I just took the pen part out and threw away the plastic tube. The piece of lime is drilled out to 4mm to accept the nib and ink tube. Drilling it out is the hardest part of making this typr of pen because it needs a long straight hole, and being wood drills often veer off because they like to follow the softest grain.

I have just started a new project which will involve, turning, carving and pyrography, so please watch this space if you want to see how I get on. It is a unique project and you won't see another like it anywhere.

Just before you go, one of my books, "Carp Rustlers" will be free to download from Amazon until Saturday 21st July. Please grab a copy and have a good laugh. click  here to go straight to Amazon.