Wooden Bowls & Finishing

Interesting developmental week in the workshop this week. I was expecting to get started with the Gothic Kitchen project but did not really think through the logistics of planning and ordering material for such a large endeavour, so that'll probably be next week now. That did give me the opportunity to spend a  bit of time finishing things while I also experimented with one of my personal obsessions - wooden bowls. 

I find making wooden bowls fascinating. The chances that it would have been one of the earliest things humans would have fashioned - way before the "stone-age" there would have been the "wood-age" there are just very few surviving artefacts to study so its mostly overlooked historically. While traditional hand carved bowls often are very beautiful and of course there is the ubiquitous turned bowl (many of which are very nice) - the utility and tradition of these tend to dictate their design. To me that means there is a huge area of ideas to explore with what a bowl can be in terms of shape and interpretation. I find myself coming back it to again and again in my sketchbook. Each bowl I make informs me and while helping coalesce my ideas of the next iteration it often opens up new pathways for other ideas too.

This week I started making two radically different looking bowls - although both from the same walnut board. The one you can see in the first six pictures below emulates some shapes I really like from oriental ceramics. The main body was cut 2-sided from a 60mm thick piece of walnut wood. In addition I cut the base from the same material. I've machined a v-grooved line highlighting the rim which I plan to gold-leaf and the base has a cavity to put some lead-shot to provide it with a bit more heft. This is really quite a formal design and I am looking for a fine surface finish (lots of sanding and scraping). 

The second bowl is a more left-field approach to what a wooden bowl can be. I made what I would think of as the first iteration of this idea when I was working at Vectric. At the time I always planned to revisit and develop this further although that was over 2 years ago - better late than never. The shape emulates the form of material blowing in the wind, it's really sinewy and incredibly tactile and marries with wood-grain to create something I think is incredibly beautiful. I was pleased with this next iteration ( images 7-10 below) and learned a lot from it, its not quite there in terms of what I'm looking for yet though. One thing I did try with this is to minimise the hand-finishing and embrace the machining lines as part of the process and aesthetic of the flow of the design. This will of course save time and so make them considerably more affordable. After one coat of oil I'm cautiously optimistic this approach may work. Lots more ideas to come with both bowl designs and many others over the coming months and year. 

While making bowls I have also been finishing another batch of CeorfanBirds, the Ace of Spades beer catcher (shown below complete) and a small project with the some hand-undercutting for a memorial poppy. (last picture below). So its been a useful week of chipping along a number of things. Next I need to try and bring some of these things together and look for ways to make these things available to purchase. I need to start with a bit of a re-format for the website first though...