Whilst everyone else was glued to their TVs watching the royal wedding I was hosting some Japanese woodwork tourists. These were representatives of the Japan Green Woodwork Association and they wanted to see my workshop and learn a little about bowlturning.

We only had 3 hours at the workshop but they all had a go on the lathe, I forged a tool and took them through the process from tree to finished bowl.

This is Masashi Kutsuwa who worked with various woodworkers in the UK for 4 years before returning to Japan.

They also brought with them a gift from my friend in Japan Tomio Imaru he has taught himself bowl turning on the pole lathe after buying my book and seeing my turning on youtube. The first things he made were very European but these gifts were very exciting for me as they are quite Japanese. First a small vessel with a carved spout, perfect I think for serving soy sauce.

And now this piece has instantly become one of my most treasured possessions, I love it dearly. It was turned by Tomio  and then the lacquer done by Masashi’s wife. She built up 4 layers of urushi lacquer with different colours. I love the texture, I love the way the way the turning marks show through the lacquer but it still has a deep glow. Urushi is a natural lacquer but before it is cured it causes sever allergic reaction in some people. Once cured it is water resistant but also heat and alcohol resistant.

Much Japanese lacquer-ware is made on superfine turned vessels so that when finished you can barely tell that it is wood underneath. I adore this bowl, it has taken a little of our European technique but it is very much a Japanese form and Japanese finish.

Back to my own work, I have just bought a rather nice large beech tree. This came from the Chatsworth Estate and will make fine bowls and plates in due course. I guess it weighs about 3/4 of a ton which is a fair weight to move about by hand but with big levers and a little planning I can unload a tree like this on my own.

Author Robin Wood

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