Much of the woodturning I do, involves me responding to the characteristics of the wood and how it interacts with the lathe. Many times it is only when you get into the wood that its character shows up and my design for the piece has to change. But sometimes I also have the opportunity to channel my profession, Operations Research, working to find the best solutions to peoples problems.
Creating Your Own Traditions with Napkin Rings
My neighbours' napkin rings at the cottage were inscribed with the parents initials and they decided that they would like to create their own traditions and asked me to make a set of six napkin rings. After checking to see what was a good size for the internal circumference, I produced a prototype in cherry and with approval made six more.
Making the Most of the Wood
One of the satisfying things about woodturning is taking a piece of wood that is not useful for building and transforming it into something useful. One of the challenges then in making a large bowl is looking at all the wood chips you are creating and thinking it could have been a smaller bowl. I got a bowl saver which allows you to "save" the wood from becoming wood chips and the picture left shows the results of my experiments with a birch burl.
My daughter requested large coasters to use on her glass top desk to minimize noise. I used the same piece of cherry to create the four of them. To add a decorative element, I decided to put dragons on them as she is fond of dragons. After considering various methods of doing it, I decided to use a black permanent marker after some initial finishing. I was able to find some royalty-free designs to trace onto each coaster. The designs were carefully coloured in and then a couple of layers or varathane was added to protect the coaster followed by some buffing.
In Japan, Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer that is dusted or mixed with powdered gold. One summer I had a number of bowls that had split while drying or had some weak points. I wanted to salvage my work so I inserted bow shaped joints and then filled with epoxy resin. This was not easy to do with curved pieces. Not all efforts worked, and for the ones that did, the bowls had to be be re-turned. People recognized the beauty in the imperfection and those bowls sold well
Retirement Walking Stick
In the spring of 2021 I was approached to make a special walking stick for the retirement of a local ophthalmological surgeon. Dr. Laroche, an avid walker, had invented a surgical tool (shaped like a hook). His staff wanted to get him a walking stick that was shaped like his surgical tool and I was commissioned to make it. The walking stick is made of maple with a removable hook top (10") with a second knob piece that can be used in more rugged environments. Lee Valley hard ware was used for the screw joint and brass bottom (which includes a spike tip for the icy months).
Segmented Creation Urn
In March 2020, my mother died and my father wanted me to make a cremation urn for her. I choose two pieces of wood that had meaning for her - the beloved ash tree at their cottage and the maple tree that damaged their car during Hurricane Dorian. The woods were glued together alternatively and the layers were turned slightly so that the wood formed a spiral pattern.
My Neurologist neighbour asked me to create a wooden reflex hammer (either tip of the "hammer" end is commercially available and needs replacing after whacking so many knees). I worked with him on the design, creating the appropriate weight. The lovely red wood is jarrah, an Australian wood that was once part of my barbecue stand. I have since been commissioned to make additional ones by specialists that have admired his.
Planting Pot Jigs
The Miltonvale Park Senior's Program had seen some planting pot jigs online but when they went to place an order in early spring, they were unavailable. The jigs are used to create paper planting pots for starting transplants. Working from a picture and a reference to using a tomato paste tin for size, I was able to make them a couple over a weekend. Canada Post delivered quickly and they were able to start their transplants.
How many in our lifetime have the opportunity to work on a genuine Irish shillelagh. Sometime after it came to Canada with the client's husband's ancestor it was modified to tuck under the truck seat. I was able to source some blackthorn from Europe and return it closer to its original glory.
Miltonvale Park wanted to display their flags during Council meetings but the flag poles were missing holders. After some experimentation, the two maple flagpole holders were off to do the job.