JbT Squirrel Logo

The Humble Grumble

Jean Turner, RPT

   ...the sporadic annoyances & humble mumblings of a Jeannius.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Clowning About

Clown1 When I took over the raffle at our local woodturning club, I felt the need to put my mark on it. So I bought two raffle books instead of one, and I started something called the Test Valley Challenge.

The idea was that the winner of the last raffle ticket of the evening would be presented with some sort of object - it could be wood, it could be something sold to be used in wood turning, such as a pen kit, or it could be something completely wacky. The intention was to promote creative thinking, and stimulate a little bit of original design and promote skill development in the members of the club (nothing like necessity being the mother of invention).

Clown4 It was a bit slow to take off at first, nothing like this had ever been done at the club before, but gradually it has built momentum and been accepted as a valid part of the monthly raffle proceedings. We have had some rather beautiful things made and brought to show.

Of course, being the person who runs the raffle, I am also the person to choose the rather obtuse, and sometimes downright challenging elements which the lucky? winner gets to take home and work with. I also laugh at the apparent misfortune of those who are chosen by chance to endure the pain of creativity and original thought.

Clown2 A few months of the Challenge passed, and spectacular and very original items had been made and shown at meetings. Along with a happy acceptance, the timing of the prize had changed from one that was forced onto the last ticket winner to being available for choice at any time during the raffle proceedings. What was interesting to see was that the challenge has climbed ever higher on the ladder of choosing.

And so it was that my raffle ticket came up - and the Test Valley Challenge was sat on the table amongst all the other (very nice) prizes, asking to be picked. It was a nasty combination that I had come up with that month - a 50mm diameter hinged gold plated ring, normally used in ring boxes or eggs, and a gaudy, bright purple bamboo wood pen blank.

Some bright spark shouted 'Jean should do the challenge!', and so, girding myself, I picked up the items I was so happy to give to someone else to challenge them.

Clown5 My children are a constant source of good ideas, and when I showed one of my sons the gold ring and bemoaned the fact that I had to make something spectacular with it, he asked what it did. I took the ring, pretended to be a boy-eating shark, and opened and closed it a couple of times, saying 'Nyar, nyar, nyar' at him. As he gave one of his delightful deep belly laughs, the inspiration for my clown jolted into my consciousness.

It is made of a piece of very pretty American Hard Ash, so light in places that it looks like the grain has torn out and not been sanded properly. In fact, it's very smooth! The hair is made up of some special No 13 beads that I bought many years ago from a little bead shop in Port Townsend, in the States. They are stitched on through many little holes drilled through the lid, which is turned to about 2.5mm thickness.

Clown8 The inside of the base looks a bit square in the photo, but it is in actual fact pretty oval shaped inside. It is deliberately left on the heavy side, as the beads that make up the hair are reasonably weighty, being glass, and the structure needs to stand up even wen the lid is fully opened.

The nose is a piece of the bright purple bamboo. It was to have a white ring of leather between the nose and the body of the clown, but I haven't found the 'right' piece yet. The nose is therefore not glued in, but it sits pretty tight, and if it stays like that for the rest of it's days, that's also allright with me.

Clown7 It was just a bit of fun, and gave a laugh when I took it back and showed it at club.

The best of it to me is that at the last wood turning club meeting, a raffle prize winner walked up to the table, viewed the prizes left, and looked so disappointed as he said: 'Has the Challenge prize already been chosen then?'