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Weekend Projects – Flame-inspired Open Form


Monday 9 July 2018

When creating pieces for decoration it is always best to turn a simple form; this will allow the decoration to sit easily upon the item. For many years I have been fascinated by the flames created in an open fire. Taking this as inspiration, I created this piece with an abstract pattern using a limited palette of three acrylic colours. This piece uses a simple form which can be left natural or decorated using simple shapes burnt into the surface using a high powered pyrography machine; the lines created form a barrier which helps when colouring these areas. When applying the decoration, this should be more intense towards the bottom and more spaced out towards the top of the form. For this project you will need a piece of English sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) measuring 180 x 100mm.

STEP 1

Firstly, take your blank and mount it between centres then make round using a 32mm spindle roughing gouge. Next, using a 6mm parting tool, create a spigot to fit into your chuck

STEP 2

With the blank mounted into the chuck, true the end using a 10mm swept-back bowl gouge

STEP 3

Mark and define the length of the vase and plunge into the wood at this point to a depth of around 25mm

STEP 4

Remove some of the waste timber to create the desired shape; this is best done using a a 32mm spindle roughing gouge as this tool removes the waste quickly. Do not turn the final outside shape at this stage

STEP 5

Using a 12mm fingernail-profile spindle gouge, refine the top radius/edge of the vase

STEP 6

Now you need to drill a hole at the centre to the required depth; this can be done using a drill bit mounted into a Jacobs chuck or with a spindle gouge

STEP 7

Using a dedicated end grain hollowing tool, remove the waste timber from the inside of the vase

STEP 8

Refine the inside using a large shear scraper to remove the slight bumps that may have occurred when hollowing

STEP 9

Sand the inside of the vessel using a shear/self-powered sander and work through all the grades. Avoid generating too much heat as this will damage the end grain. Seal the wood with acrylic sanding sealer, allow to dry then spray with acrylic satin lacquer

STEP 10

Re-mark and define the length of the vase and using a 6mm parting tool, plunge into the wood to a diameter of 40mm

STEP 11

Using a 12mm spindle gouge, create the bottom of the vase turning into the area that will become the foot

STEP 12

At this stage, you need to further reduce the outside of the vase, create a wall thickness of around 5mm and thin the vase wall slightly towards the top; this will give the edge a fine look and will avoid making it appear heavy

STEP 13

Turn and refine the bottom of the vase and create the foot detail. Turn the cove using a 12mm skewchigouge. You can now sand the outside of the vase – final sanding is best completed using a self-powered shear sander

STEP 14

Plunge into the timber at the bottom of the foot towards the headstock to a diameter of around 6mm, turn off the lathe then cut the finished vase from the waste using a fine-toothed saw

STEP 15

Reverse chuck the vase onto a shaped scrap wood chuck, and with the tailstock in place, gently turn a shallow cove into the bottom of the base, then sand to a good finish

STEP 16

The finished turned vase is now ready for the decoration to be applied

STEP 17

Sit comfortably at a bench and draw out your design; I use a watercolour pencil to avoid damaging the surface of the timber. This laying out is nothing more than a guide to help when burning in the design. Begin to burn the design taking care to avoid inhaling the fumes as they are extremely harmful

STEP 18

With the design complete the vase will need to be sanded as the pyrography will boil sap/moisture from the timber and leave a residue on the surface; this needs to be sanded from the surface to leave it clean, before colouring

STEP 19

Using a good quality artist's brush and an opaque ink, apply a base colour of bright yellow; this will make the following colours more vibrant

STEP 20

Select the areas you wish to colour red and apply this to these areas

STEP 21

Finally, apply the orange to more selected areas, remembering to leave some of the yellow showing which will help to lift the design and avoid making it appear too heavy/dark. With the colouring complete, apply a coat of spray acrylic sanding sealer and allow to dry. If needed, gently denib the surface and remove the dust then spray with acrylic satin lacquer – 2-3 light coats is best. It always amazes me how the colour becomes more intense when the finishes are applied

STEP 22

The flame-inspired open form is now complete