George Lailey died 50 years ago today

George Lailey was “the Last Bowlturner”


He made wooden bowls on a foot powered lathe the same way they had been made in medieval times. He died 50 years ago today aged 89.

He forged all his own turning tools which are kept with his lathe at the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading. He could turn nests of bowls, one cut inside the other and get 4 bowls out of one block of wood. 30 years after his death I saw those tools, learned to forge copies of them and then to turn bowls.

For about 10 years I was the only pole lathe bowlturner. After demonstrating and showing lots of people how it is done there are now plenty of people who can turn a few bowls and the craft is safe for the future.

I spent today turning a very special big nest of bowls as a kind of tribute. I don’t do many big nests any more but it was really a very good experience. Nicola did a video which we will put on youtube.


and this is alongside one of Lailey’s bowls


This nest will take about 2 months to dry before being oiled and finished, then it will go in the gallery on the website. I think I shall make one of these every year on the 15th of December, quite a limited edition.

Edit Nicola finished a video of making the bowls

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