28 April 2005

An Egg of a Different Color

At a party last February, a friend called me over to look at a small log from the hostess' firewood bucket. I could not identify the wood, and neither could the hostess, but she graciously allowed me to take the log home with me.

I still don't know what it is, but I cut a piece off one end and turned this egg.

The log was about three inches in diameter, so I mounted the piece on the lathe with the drive and tail centers into the pith on both ends. However, the pith was not exactly in the center of the branch. As a result there is an area of sapwood on one side. It's the pale yellow spot at the top of the picture. I liked the contrast with the darker heartwood.

The dark circle is the remains of a small branch. You can also see tiny swirls just below the yellow patch. I'm not sure if those are the traces of failed branchlets or just "bumps" in the growth rings.

Here's a view of the big end of the egg. There were old cracks in the pith (dark Y-shaped mark) that I sealed with cyanoacrylate glue. You can see the growth rings clearly in this photo. The egg itself is less than two inches in diameter, and there are at least sixteen rings visible. Whatever this wood is, it comes from a fairly dense, slow-growing tree.

I finished this piece with clear shellac (Zinsser's new Bulls Eye French Polish) and then buffed it with carnauba wax.

The "L" above the pith is my woodburned mark. No, the photo is not reversed - I really do sign my work backwards!

26 April 2005

Walnut egg after oiling - view 1

This is what the walnut egg looks like after finishing. I first soaked it in Watco Natural Danish Oil, let it dry, applied a second coat the next day, and rubbed that dry. The following day I applied straight beeswax and buffed it thoroughly. The result is a soft luster rather than a glossy finish. It feels nice and smooth in the hand.

The end result is somewhat darker than I had expected, and there is not as much chatoyance as some walnut displays. Chatoyance is "the quality of having a variable luster." It's the term that describes what you see when a piece is moved in the light and areas that were pale now appear dark and vice versa. Chatoyance is not dependent upon the luster of the finish, but a glossy finish can enhance the apparent depth of the effect.

Most figured maples (quilted, curly, fiddleback, etc.) exhibit very noticeable chatoyance. Some walnut pieces have it, and some don't. This one has only a small amount.

Walnut egg after oiling - view 2

Another side of the egg. Despite the rather flat lighting on this picture, you can see the pale horizontal bands near the top and the equator. These bands shift intensity when the egg is twisted in bright light, an example of chatoyance.

Compare this picture with the "Walnut egg before finishing view 2" below which shows the same side of the egg. You can see where the oil intensifies the contrast in the figure.

Walnut egg after oiling - view 3

This is the best of the three pictures, probably because I had the lighting almost acceptable! I'm still learning about how to photograph my work, as you can see from the other views.

20 April 2005

Walnut egg before finishing, view 1

Here is the walnut egg before getting oiled. The delay in posting was due to two learning curves. First, I am learning how to photograph my work, at least well enough for a viewer to see that it is ROUND. Second, I've been learning about photoblogging tools and how to use them.

Walnut egg before finishing, view 2

Here is a different side of the egg. As you can see, this piece of wood has some interesting color and figure. One of the pleasures of woodturning is watching the figure change under the tools as you shape it and refine it.

15 April 2005

They liked my egg!

The Pacific Northwest Woodturning Guild was first proposed early last year, and since then its charter members have determined the basic structure, written bylaws, elected officers, and registered as an official chapter of the AAW (American Association of Woodturners).

The purpose of the PNWG is to promote the craft and the art of woodturning by educating gallery owners and the general public on what woodturning is and how to recognize quality work. Internally, the guild plans to provide information to its members on all aspects of marketing their work. Externally, the guild will use its web site, brochures, and displays at area shows and in other public venues, to both educate buyers and to promote its woodturning members as a source of high-quality turnings and turned art.

To ensure that gallery owners and the public can expect quality, the guild has developed a rating system that will be used to certify that a member's turnings consistently meet a certain standard of workmanship. Members submit an initial group of pieces for review, and if the determination is that the work meets or exceeds the standard, the member is entitled to use the designation "Certified Member of PNWG" on business cards and similar materials.

Membership in the guild is open to anyone with an interest in creating and/or selling woodturnings, but only those who are both actual woodturners and active members of AAW are eligible for certification. Woodturners who have joined the guild but are not certified are designated as Members, while non-turners, such as gallery owners or tool makers, are designated as Associate Members.

PNWG is based in Portland, Oregon, but it plans to recruit and promote the work of members from throughout the Pacific Northwest. Any interested turner may join, but the majority of members currently are, or plan to become, professional woodturners who earn all or a good portion of their income from selling their creative output.

* * * * *

Now that I've introduced you to PNWG, I'll explain my post title. At tonight's guild meeting, where we discussed our soon-to-be-written brochure as well as our soon-to-be-published web site, I passed around a black walnut egg (approximately Grade AA Extra Large size) that I had turned this afternoon. It started as an irregular chunk, highly figured and almost burly in places, and even unfinished it is interesting to look at. Two or three of the other turners made nice comments about it. Tomorrow (today?) I will finish it with Watco Natural Danish Oil, and when that has cured I'll buff it with wax. I'm expecting the figure to "pop" quite a bit.

* * * * *

I had several near-encounters with wildlife on the drive home, which made it fun. First, a rather large coyote ran diagonally across the road from the berry farm on the left side to a newly cleared field on the right. As I slowed down to let him cross, my out-loud thought was, "My, what BIG ears you have!"

I rolled down my window at the next turn, so I could listen to the Pacific tree frogs that have populated a temporary pool in the corner pasture. Then partway down the half-mile hill, I spotted the green eye-shine of an oppossum. I braked a bit, until it shuffled up the bank into the shrubbery. And I slowed way down once more, on the last straight stretch before my turnoff, for a blacktail deer ambling along the roadside. After a few moments hesitation, the deer turned and "spronged" over a fence and trotted up the grassy slope and out of sight.

Time to sleep. I need to start doing this earlier in the evening! I'll post before-and-after pictures of the egg later.

14 April 2005

In the Beginning

"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow."

Consider this an acorn.