It was -12 at home last night and it was well below freezing all day today in the workshop. I am sometimes asked how I manage to work in an unheated workshop all winter but to be honest once I am peddling the lathe I do keep warm. The one thing that is a problem is the hands, I can’t wear gloves as I need to constantly feel the bowl to check the thickness and finish and as I am always changing from one tool to another they never warm up. Bare hands on cold steel is not nice, though I love the clear frosty weather.
Last week I finished turning my porringer blanks and cut up another disc of beech. This gave me about 50 blanks, some more porringers and star bowls. These are copies of a 15th century design, I was first asked to do a copy by a historical re-enactor 7 or 8 years ago and since then they have been one of my most popular designs particularly as a wedding gift. I particularly like doing them when demonstrating to the public as I turn them on the lathe then carve the scallops with an axe before smoothing them with a sharp knife. Few people realise that an axe can be a precision tool when used with skill. I am really pleased with the markings in the beech when finished and oiled these will be beautiful bowls.
When I made my first one of these I marked the scallops out evenly with dividers and it ended up looking like a piece of engineering, just too regular. Now I just start cutting as accurately as I can by eye, the scallops vary by just the right amount to be pleasing.
I posted off an interesting parcel yesterday containing these bowls.
“Our forthcoming production, The Magdalene Mysteries, will embark on an epic journey across the historical depictions of Mary Magdalene, through text, vocal music, contemporary dance. It will be staged in different venues in London, including a site-specific version at St. James Church in Piccadilly. It will then tour to the Brighton Fringe Festival and to Rome.
Key in our production is the use of twelve small bowls and one large one to represent Jesus and the disciples. These will be incorporated in the choreography at different stages in the play.”
As always with theatre companies they were on a tight budget and deadline but because I liked the idea I have sent these on loan for free. More details of their production here.