Freezing in the workshop and turning star bowls

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.

These are for a small theatre company “Vocal Motions” and this is why they want them.

“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.

2 Responses to Freezing in the workshop and turning star bowls

  1. TREEWRIGHT February 21, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    Know what you mean about the unheated workshop in winter Rob ! Perhaps you could get a stove if you weren’t giving away bowls ?I thought I had a comment yesterday and got a bit excited – turned out to be a link to download Britney Spears – “Hit me baby one more time”Love the look of those knives – were they expensive?

  2. Robin Wood February 23, 2008 at 8:41 am #

    Hi Robin,Nice to know someone is reading this stuff, you never know when you write it do you, having said that I am finding it quite interesting at the moment, a bit like writing a diary, it makes me reflect on what I am doing at work and take the camera in to record stuff a bit more too which is good.Yes the knives were very expensive, rather an extravagance. Though not as expensive as the Ray Mears bushcraft type knives that many folk buy at £250 plus for a simple ground slab of O1 steel that cost £2. These are proper Scandinavian forged blades, and the handles are made with mammoth ivory and mammoth bone (recovered from melting glaciers in Siberia) I have learned an awful lot about knives and the turning tools recently, the effect of slightly different sharpening methods..interesting stuff.