Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Quickie

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

Eggs

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

Gifts

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.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Basket Illusion

Hi All,
I don't mind admitting that I'm fed up with this hot weather. Throughout the winter my workshop was like a fridge, but for the last few weeks it has been like an oven. Needless to say this is curtailing my creative desires in a frustrating way.  I have to grab what time I can early in the morning, but that ain't much because life's other boring duties jump over each other to get in the way.

Anyway, that's enough moaning because it could be a damn sight worse. When I did get a bit of time to myself I thought I had a go at a bit of basket illusion. No, relax, I haven't taken up weaving of the willow, basket illusion is a woodworking term used when decorating a piece of wood to make it look like a basket.
Above is a picture of the one I did. It is very small and is turned from lime with an African blackwood knob. The horizontal lines were made with a skew chisel and then burn in with a wire.
The vertical lines were done via the indexing facility on my lathe. I marked each position with a pencil then drew lines between them. Once I was happy I carefully burnt them in with the pyrography iron.

The red and black colours were applied with Winsor and Newton pro markers which made it very easy. Regarding the pattern, I just experimented on square paper until I got something that looked half decent. After the colouring I gave it several coats of Chestnut melamine lacquer.

I'm quite impressed with the outcome and found the whole process to be very enjoyable. I have even purchased a Robert Sorby bead forming tool to make the line marking simpler and more effective. I am looking forward to making something similar, but slightly bigger. In the mean time, I've got to turn a couple of pens for gifts. So please keep an eye on this space if you want to see how they come out.

If you want to see more about basket illusion, here is s link to an expert on youtube


Monday, 2 July 2018

Another Duff Pen

Hi all,
Sorry it has been a long time since my last post. I've been trying to teach myself video editing and it has been a very steep learning curve. I will leave a link to show you my efforts later in this post.

So, following on from the disastrous eggshell pen project, what did I do next. Well silly me had the notion that I could get a decent effect by using small mosaic tiles. Without further ado here is what it turned out like.
Granted, it is better than the eggshell jobby but it still isn't what I was hoping for. The tiles, which I got off amazon, are 3mm square and 2mm thick. I stuck them on with PVA glue and grouted them with some grout also from amazon.

There are two reasons why this pen doesn't look as good as it was supposed to.

Firstly there is too much grout showing between the tiles. The gap between the tiles is as small as I could get it, but due to the small diameter of the pen the tiles just had to have big gaps at the top even though they were touching at the bottom. A thicker pen would have looked better because the angle between the tiles would not have been so acute. If I did another one I'd make the pen thicker and probably colour the grout so that it didn't stick out so much.

It was a tedious project because I had to do the tiles one row at a time, placing the tiny tiles with a pair of tweezers, then wait for the glue to dry before doing another row.

The second reason the pen looks wrong is because I put the nib end of the pen on the mandrel the wrong way around. This meant that because it is a modified slimline design, the tube that the nib fits into doesn't go all the way to the end. So when I came to assemble it I had no tube to press the nib into.

Ah well, you can't win them all.

Going back to the video. I fancy putting a few of my projects onto youtube so like I said at the top of this post I'm trying to teach myself video editing. I have had a practise run by videoing my garden, here's the link any comments will be welcome.

My next project is about basket illusion so please keep an eye out for my next post.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Failed Pen

Hi all,
Sometimes things go right and at other times they turn to a bag of crap. Let's start with the good stuff. I've done a bit of turning and made a couple of vases. The first of which I decided to colour up with a band of polymer clay. If nothing else it would be a change from pyrography bands. I shaped the vase then using my parting tool I turned a groove about 6mm deep. Then I mixed some blue and white polymer clay together and while it still had some separation I filled the groove in the vase with it. Then I fired it in the oven and then turned the shape and finished it.
The pound coin gives you an idea of scale, so you can see that it is a small vase. I guess the outcome was ok but nothing special. It was turned from a piece of sapele that was in the scrap bin so you can't expect too much from a bland piece of wood.

Then I thought I'd make another vase for the fridge, but a different shape to the last one. I thought a bit of segmentation might be alright so I did a couple of light wood bands in the middle.
I was going to flatten one side so that it could be stuck on the fridge but my wife said it was too nice. She stuck a viola in it and put it on the windows sill in the kitchen. So I'm not doing too bad overall, but here is the failure.
.
Inspired by something I'd seen on Youtube, I decided to have a go at eggshell mosaic. Further to that notion, I decide that it would look nice on a pen. Anyway, I turned a pen fro African blackwood and recessed it a little in the area where I wanted the eggshell. By the way, this project looks better with white eggshells which I didn't have, so after a full English I grabbed the brown eggshells, before my wife could stick them in the bin, and painted them with white acrylic paint.

I then stuck the eggshells onto the pen in a random pattern so that the blackwood would show up behind. It was a tedious, tiresome and frustrating thing to be doing but I perceived. Luckily I decided to do just the top first and finish that so not to waste time on the bottom part. Am I glad I did, because the CA glue that was supposed to seal the gaps between the eggshells and give me a crystal clear, glossy finish just didn't happen. For what ever reason it went all milky on me. So here is a photo of the mess.
The sad thing is, up until when I put the super glue on, it looked quite promising. So I won't be messing with eggshells again any time soon. It seemed like a cracking idea (pun intended) at the time but we all make mistakes.

To save me wasting the pen blanks and tubes I had another idea. Why don't I cover them with nano mosaics? I will show you how I get on with that idea in my next post.



Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A little Vase

Hi all,
I thought you might like to see this little bud vase that I made. I saw the idea in a woodturning magazine so I thought I'd have a go. Not only is it a small vase but it has a insert which allows it to hold water and thus keep alive any little flower that are put into it. Plus, I have flattened the back  and inserted a magnet so that it can stick on the side of the fridge.

The wood is sapele and I have burnt two circles around the vase. The flowers are fairy foxgloves and have been in the vase for 4 days now and don't show any sign of drooping. My Mrs is well pleased and wants me to make a load more.

It was easy to make and I enjoyed it, so I might just do her another couple.

By the way, one of my books, "Bun In The Oven," will be free to download until Saturday 9th of June. Please grab a copy and have a good laugh. To get the download just go to the book's tab at the top of the page and click on the cover. That will take you straight to Amazon for the download.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Carved Rabbit with Pyrography

Hi all,
I've just finished my latest carving. It's a rabbit and it was a little more difficult than I thought it would be.

I roughed it out first from a piece of lime wood.
At this point it is still attached to the main piece of wood. I do it like that so that I have something to hold on to whilst most of the material is removed. The rabbit was roughly drawn onto the piece of wood and then I carved away most of the material with a selection of Saburr tooth burrs.These are very good at removing a lot of wood quickly whilst still poviding some control.

The rabbit was further refined with diamond burrs, rifflers and various grades of sand paper.
Here is the finished rabbit after the details were burned in with my pyrography iron.
I kept the finish simple, using several coats of Danish Oil.

This will probably be my last carving for a short while because I have acquired a ganglion on my wrist. The doctor's advice is not to do much repetitive work for a while so carving is going to go on the back burner for a bit. I'm seeing the doctor again on Monday with a view to having said ganglion removed, but we will see.

For those who have not come across a ganglion before her is my description. It comes as a large swell on the wrist in the area wher it joins the hand. It looks like  a marble has got inder the skin. It's a bit like a cyst, with the cause being unknown. Generally it is not painful unless you knock it and then it is absolute murder. I also get pain when my hand gets into certain positions so I am learning to avoid them. It's a stange old world, one minute I've never heared of a ganglion and now I've got one, still i guess its better than waking up with a gammy leg.

I shall continue woodturning so please watch this space for my next post. I'm also thinking about doing some video work of my projects, but it is early days yet.

I did do one of my garden to see how it went. I know next to nothing about video editing but here is a link to youtube and my first decent attempt. It's even got background music




Monday, 21 May 2018

Torquise Inlay

Hi All,
I have been meaning to have a go at a bit of inlay work for a long time. I have done a bit with polymer clay a couple of years ago. Here are some hare bells an the lid of a box.
And, I have even done a few bits with wood. Here I inlaid some tulip wood into the top of a box with a mahogany lid.
However, I haven't tried inlaying gems stones even in dust form. So, I turned a small lidded box out of what I think was rosewood. I bought it over a year ago so I can't remember, and I'd already used the end of the blank with the identification label on. Whatever it was, it turned very well and provided the perfect background for the turquoise.
It turned out very well, in fact, I was pleasantly surprised how simple it was. After I'd turned the lid of the box I used a thin parting tool to make a groove a couple of mm deep. Then I carefully poured the turquoise dust into the groove and soaked it with thin CA glue. Once it had dried I used a round nose scrapper to smooth the turquoise so that it was level with the wood and then I sanded it in the usual way by going through all the grades. I then gave it a coat of wax and polished it up. I'm afraid the pictures don't do it justice because the lid is super glossy and super smooth.

On the carving and pyrography front, I'm having a go at a small rabbit. I'll share that with you in my next post. If you have any questions about any of the inlay stuff above, I'll be happy to answer any questions.



Friday, 11 May 2018

Wise Owl

Hi all,
Ive finally managed to get a couple of projects underway. For a simple start I thought I'd turn, carve and burn a small caricature of an owl. Here is Oliver, or Olly if you want to shorten it, he won't mind.
He looks kind of cute and I quite enjoyed burning the feathers on. It will be good practise for when I try to do a realistic bird in a few weeks time. If there is one think about it that I don't like, it's the beak. Especially from the angle I've photographed it from because in the photo it looks more like a pig's snout. Perhaps I should have called him Porky.

Anyway, for those who are interested, this is how he was made.

Step 1:  I made a rough model out of Plasticine.
This gave me something to follow when removing wood. You may notice that the finished article is a bit taller and on a plinth. The reason for that is, the plinth is actually the bit that the wood was mounted to the lathe with and I kept it on during the carving process to give me something to hold on to. Anyway, I like  the look of the plinth and decided to keep it.

Step 2: I took a square of lime wood and turned it to the overall shape of the owl. By doing this I removed a lot of wood which saved me time when doing the carving.

Step 3: I roughed out the shape.
Once I was happy with it what I'd done, I refined it and sanded it to the final shape.

Step 4: I drew on a few feathers with a pencil and once I was happy with the style I did the rest with my pyrography iron. I also burned the plinth to give it some texture and some colour.

Step: 5 I wiped it down with rubbing alchol to remove any surplace carbon/soot that was created by the burning process. Then I gave it seveal coats of melamine lacquer.

My next project is a small box with a turqoise inlay. I've not done this before so I'm waiting to see how it turns out. All will be revealed in my next post.






Sunday, 29 April 2018

Slow Start

Hi all,
Getting going again after the long winter is turning out to be very difficult. Eventually the weather has warmed up enough for me to get back into the workshop, but there was a list of things to be done in the garden so I have been delayed.

Anyway, to get myself back into woodturning mode I made my wife some earings so that she could decorate them. She has started making paper beads and wanted to have some earings so that she could make a set. She decorated a couple of bangles and made some beads for a neckless and then decorated the earings I made her.
I think she has made a really good job of them. The trouble is that she now wants more earings so that she can make other colours to go with her many outfits. Hopefully, I will be able to do something fo myself soon.

I have a small wooden owl in mind and I should be able to show you some progress in my next post.

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.