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The Humble Grumble

Jean Turner, RPT

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

Friday, 2 March 2012

Ticking off...

Awareness of Age brings with it an awareness of lack of time, and for some it means they are in an awful hurry to get a lot of things done before their time on earth is up.

Jbt0169 Last time I did some figuring I realised it would take me about 120 years to get through all the items on my list. Despite working hard at it progress at times seems so very slow.

There are things on the list that I have achieved. A tick here and there, but generally there are more things on my wish list than I have hope of starting, never mind doing properly.

There are some easily tick-able things I have already done - for example I have seen sand sculptures on Weymouth Beach, collected a pebble from Chesil Beach, walked in the Sinai Desert and seen the Burning Bush and touched the great pyramids at Giza.

Jbt0169 I have also been through the Chunnel.

When I was reasonably small, I saw an article in a magazine that referred to the making of a tunnel under the channel of water that separates England from France. The concept of one that would work and that people could use was a dream then, but one I stashed away on my mental list of ToDo's for when the time came.

That heavenly and rather romantic weekend trip to Paris on the Eurostar through the Chunnel from London was the fulfilment of a long-term ambition and also signified a number of other want-to-do items being ticked off my list. Jbt0168 I saw the Mona Lisa, the statue Athena and a number of her contemporary marble statues and many other wonderful treasures I had only seen in pictures in books. Athena towered over me in the Louvre and made me cry. The real Venus de Milo (we had grown up with a miniature of her in our house) stood on her plinth, aloofly gazing into the distance, unaware that I was even there. I saw fish decorations from 5,000 years ago and turned and joined wood items from 2,000 years ago and multi-coloured glass beads and jars created during the times of the Pharoahs.

The Musee de Orsee revealed to me that even the most famous Impressionists started out painting things like I do - daisies - and badly!

The Eiffel Tower showed us a beautiful vista on a dark windy evening which was cold enough that the humble vegetable soup served at the top-most level tasted like a five star banquet. Loads of ticks. And then there were the visits to Basil, Cairo and London to see the Tutankhamun treasures and the ancient Egyptian world.

Tick, tick, tick, tickety, tickety tick.

And one more tick was recently added: combining, successfully it seems (if those around me are anything to go by) wood and beadwork in a reasonably pleasing manner.

I first turned some hollow forms.

That in itself required a bit of attention, as they had narrow openings, and I wanted them to be hollowed out till they were light in weight.

Jbt0170 Jbt0170 They were all turned from spalted beech. Two from dry wood and one from wood that was getting there, but still had some way to go. Each of them had a bead rolled on the top outside 'corner' through which I was going to drill a myriad of holes for the purpose of stitching on a piece of pre-made beadwork.

I chose to put an opening in the bottom - 20mm in diameter, which allowed 2mm breathing space either side of the tool bar that I use for hollowing. Once happy with the thickness of the wall, the holes were once again sealed by gluing in the pre-prepared spigots.

Badly, as it happens.

One of them turned an awful dirty looking grey colour as it dried. I discovered that it was caused by me using a nail to seal the hole in the top of the bottle of new-fangled 5-minute PVA glue I was trying for the first time. The nail quickly rusts in the glue and affects it's colour which then gets soaked into the wood when it is applied, causing a discolouration of the join as well as the plug itself. So - scratch one hollow form and about 50ml of brand new glue that I had to squeeze out to get to the cleaner stuff in the bottle.

Jbt0169 The second spigot got twisted as I pushed it in place, and, true to form, I had made such a good job of it that there was no way I could knock it out again to try again. What I learned that time was that one should not try and twist the spigot back and forward into place to spread the instant glue, because once it has gone in one way, the glue grabs and you can't twist it back again! Scratch the second hollow form in terms of perfection.

The third one was the most successful of the lot. Having learned from my time-and-labour-expensive actions of the first two, I turned a different shape (which looks nice), made the bead slightly differently (so I could drill straight through instead of a silly angle relative to the top of the hollow form which made sewing it a whole lot easier), I hollowed it out a whole lot more (lighter in weight, so therefore I felt it was more 'professional' in my view and I felt happier) and I remembered to use the tailstock as a straight edge ram and gently wind the spigot home (it went in aligned and straight so I could re-chuck it and turn the top of the form off before re-chucking and removing the rest of the spigot from the base).

As for the other two, instead of consigning them to the wood burning stove, I reasoned that if I put my brand on the bottom, people will be so busy trying to figure out what they says that maybe they won't notice the skew alignment on them.

Jbt0169 Then came the beading stage.

Well, this opens a whole new can of worms or moments of excitement, depending on your view.

It helps if you go to the bead shop with some sort of idea in your head as to what you want to do and which colours you would like to do it in. Walking into Alladin's cave blows the mind, and without pre-planning, one walks out with a blown purse as well.

Footling around with my new bead stock for a while in the presence of my mother, who is a really experienced and knowledgeable 'Beady', I decided on a pattern, practised it a bit with different colours and finally settled on the combination I liked.

Jbt0169 Thirty hours of beading later I had a band 'thing' ready to be stitched onto the wood and the drilling began. The first hollow form was around 100mm in diameter (more or less) and had an awkward edge circumference of 305mm. For every motif I had worked, I needed to drill two 0.4mm diameter holes (ideally 5mm apart each) and make four passthroughs with the needle and thread in order to stitch the beadwork on. It took a number of hours, and when it was done I was entranced by it.

It was something I have never seen done before, and it was MY baby! Yes - people have been putting beads on wood for many years before now, but never have I seen anything quite like this before. My very own, original piece!

Encouraged, I made two more beaded 'things' and sewed them onto the other two hollow forms, ruined or not, as they were. I was again delighted with the results and will be doing a lot more of this type of combination wood turning and beadwork in the future.

And as for ticking... Well, I have only just started this process and I guess it will take some time before I am really happy to tick this one off, if I ever do.

To see other items like this for sale, please see my Hollow Forms and Other Artful Things page.