Hanging Vessel

Monday 9 July 2018

My work has often been influenced by what I have seen and experienced. Much of this is subliminal, often being influenced by ancient cultures.

This hanging vessel is not a complicated piece to turn and has a very definite oriental feel; this is magnified by the stand. For me, it represents the vision of what I see as a 'ceremonial offering bowl' that may well have been found outside temples in ancient Tibet or Japan. Here I am thinking of images in my mind and no specific place. The reference may even be distorted and also holds images of Raku fired ceramics along with salt glaze effects, but this all helps me create the piece I can see in my mind's eye.

In addition to turning tools opposite, you will also need a flexible-shaft rotary tool, an airbrush, and a variety of acrylic paints.

Tools used: swan-neck hollowing tools, specialist end grain hollowing tool, 3mm (1/8in) parting tool, 6mm (1/4in) parting tool, 6mm (1/4in) round skew or 100mm (4in) parting tool, 10mm (3/8in) round skew chisel, 12mm (1/2in) round skew or parting tool, 6mm (1/4in) spindle gouge, 12mm (1/2in) spindle gouge, 10mm (3/8in) long-grind bowl gouge and 32mm (1 1/4in) spindle roughing gouge

Step 1

The timber required for this project is a rough turned English maple (Acer campestre) blank measuring 180mm x 110mm (7 x 4 1/4in). The base should measure 200mm x 125mm x 20mm (8 x 5 x 5 3/4in). For the legs, the dowel should measure 140mm x 235mm (5 1/2 x 9 1/4in); the top should measure 20mm x 40mm x 200mm (3/4 x 1 5/8 x 8in); and the cross/beam should measure 60 x 60 x 168mm (2 3/8 x 2 3/8 x 6 3/4in). The blank for this project should simply be turned to a cylinder with a 25mm (1in) hole drilled to depth at the centre, then left to dry. If the blank becomes too dry it can be soaked for a day or two in a solution of washing up liquid and water in a 1:1 ratio mix. This will rehydrate the blank and make it easier to turn. I would advise you to make the stand before you start turning and decorating. Firstly, mount the blank in the chuck and make round using the 32mm (1 1/4in) spindle roughing gouge

Step 2

Use the 10mm (3/8in) long-grind bowl gouge to remove the material at the base to create the curve

Step 3

Reduce the diameter at the top to 70mm (2 3/4in) using the long-grind bowl gouge. Create a gentle curve from the bottom to the top, then shear-scrape with the 12mm (1/2in) round skew chisel. Here you can clearly see the previously drilled centre hole that was created when rough turning the piece

Step 4

Gently begin to open the vessel using your preferred end-grain hollowing tool. Starting in the hole working towards the outside, work progressively down the wall until the piece is completely hollowed to depth. A wall thickness of around 6mm (1/4in) is ideal with a slight thinning towards the top edge of 2mm (5/63in) – this will give the piece grace when the sections are removed

Step 5

With the hollowing complete, shear-scrape the inside to remove any bumps that may be left from the previous step

Step 6

Now sand the inside taking care to avoid overheating the abrasive or the end-grain. If excess heat is generated, small radial cracks will appear in the end-grain

Step 7

Hand-sand the outside working through all the grades to achieve a good finish

Step 8

Measure 55mm (2 1/8in) down from the top and mark a 3mm (1/8in) bead

Marking out

Step 9

Using a 6mm (1/4in) round skew chisel, turn a bead and then sand the piece. Now measure the internal depth of the vessel

Step 10

At this stage, use the indexing head to mark 24 equal sections then sub-divide into three, then nine, then three, and then nine. Mark a line 8mm (5/16in) from the top of the bead. Next, find the centre of the nine sections then mark and create a balanced curve to create the area that will be cut out to create the 'handles.' You could create a template to make both curves identical


Step 11

With the piece removed from the chuck, create a jam chuck to match the top diameter, then reverse-chuck the vessel. Accurately mark the final outside depth required and plunge into the wood using a 6mm (1/4in) parting tool. Now the waste wood at the base can be removed

Step 12

Use a 10mm (3/8in) long-grind bowl gouge to remove the waste wood to create a pleasing curve at the bottom of the vessel, then sand

Step 13

Measure 65mm (2 5/8in) from the bottom of the top bead. At this point, turn a second bead and the area between will become decorated

Step 14

Use a 10mm (3/8in) fingernail spindle gouge to turn away as much waste wood as you are comfortable with. With the lathe stationary use a fine-tooth saw to cut through the small spigot at the base of the vessel – this will avoid any witness marks being left by twisted fibres. This is also a more controlled method to remove the piece from the lathe. With the piece removed, hand finish the bottom to a high standard

Cutting & shaping the top of the vessel

Step 15

Decorating should be carried out when you are comfortable in a chair at a table with good light to your side. Using the jam chuck as support, drill a line of small holes in the waste area. Do this for both sections that need to be removed

Step 16

Once the piece has been removed from the jam chuck, use a piercing bit to work from one hole to the next – this will remove the areas marked for removal. All you need to do now is to join up the dots

Step 17

Fit a small drum sander and tidy up the edges working back to the line you marked earlier. Pay careful attention to the angle at the top edge – it needs to be at right angles to the edge or it will look wrong

Texturing & holes

Step 18

Fit the flex-shaft with a small spherical burr and run at a slow speed, as the bit will then cut and not burn/burnish. Be aware and work sensitively, avoiding any diving that may occur when encountering soft spots as work progresses. Here, you will be layering two textures over each other. Texture the body of the vessel between the two beads

Step 19

As work progresses, remove debris and fuzz with a soft brass bristle brush. Don't be too aggressive as the brush can damage the wood

Step 20

Here I am creating the second texture, which is considerably deeper than the last. It is going to create the deeper gullies that you can see on the finished piece and will help create the illusion that the piece has been through some sort of ceramic firing process

Step 21

Drill a 8mm (5/16in) hole at the centre point of the 'handles,' but be very careful. Ideally place support behind the drilling position. With the piece textured, use a radial sanding brush to soften the texture and remove any fuzz that may have occurred


Step 22

I decided to keep the colour palette to just two colours: black and red. I wanted the red inside the vessel to almost glow and even thought of gilding the interior. I chose to use a different method of application for this piece – an airbrush – as it makes colouring the inside much easier and cleaner. Begin to mask/protect the areas that will become black later, and then spray the outside red followed carefully by the inside. You may need to apply several coats to get the coverage you need

Step 23

When the first colour is fully dry, remove the masking and re-mask the areas you want to remain red. If it is an edge, apply the masking tape and carefully trim using a scalpel to achieve a clean edge

Step 24

Load the airbrush with black paint and spray the bottom first. Several coats will be required here

Step 25

Inflate a small balloon inside the vessel to allow you to get a very clean edge. This will avoid you getting any black paint inside the vessel

Step 26

Take some black acrylic artist paint and dry brush the high points, taking extreme care and avoiding the beads at either side of the panel. Colour the textured area until you are happy with the coverage and it appears to be even. Once fully dry – ideally overnight is best – spray the entire piece with satin lacquer. Again, multiple light coats are best, then allow to dry. I decided to add a boundary line using a fine liner artist pen, which helped to frame the textured area and frame the piece. This will give the vessel a more pleasing look

The stand

Step 27

The stand is an essential part of this project, as the piece simply does not stand up with out it. It is very simple to create but the finish has to be the best you can make it. Use a template to create the shape for the top, cut it out on a bandsaw, then shape it on a disc sander and a belt sander until it is the shape required. Again, ensure it is well sanded. Mark all the holes as per the drawings and drill the holes as accurately as possible, cleaning up around the hole as needed

Step 28

Once the stand is assembled and glued it can be sprayed and lacquered. The cross strut to hang the vessel from is simply two long stirring sticks glued together. Again, hand finish to a good standard then paint black using matt black car paint and satin lacquer