(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
78 degrees at dawn, 94 in after noon. Towers over the ocean and to the north. A herd of small clouds raced over, then towers formed over the Everglades and headed west. A nice light breeze helped with the humidity which was not really bad. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department Of Tourism.
I go through periods where I don’t notice clouds at all, then other periods where I watch the clouds for shapes. There are times when the clouds have nothing to see. Most of the time, it takes a whole lot of attention to see a shape in a cloud. Once in a while, the shape is obvious to most people. I am in a period where I am looking at clouds and the clouds have interesting shapes in them. A protrusion or a gap in the side of a cloud could be the start of a face in one’s imagination. This morning I saw a series of connected towers that were leaning in one direction and all had a feint resemblance of dog heads.
One thing with clouds is they can change rapidly. The shape is usually made up of a couple clouds in line with you, small wisps moving, and there is a lot of turbulence where the cloud will boil up and then dissipate fast. While going home from work the other day, a cloud changed shapes into many forms in a short five minutes before it just became a blob. It was interesting just watching the process, let alone follow the change from a hippo yelling up, a old lady, a dog, a man facing the other way. Too bad I don’t take the time to lay in the grass and just watch the clouds. I guess I accidentally became an adult.
The weather report said something about possible showers after two. That told me that it was going to be a very good day. After breakfast, we headed out yard sailing. With Mom driving, we hit 8 yard sales. Some weeks there appears to be a theme of what is being offered at the yard sales. Five of the 8 had a lot of kitchen stuff.
At two yard sales, I found myself searching through cook books. I don’t need any more cook books. With one of the collection of books, I saw a Pasta cook book and was going to see what sauces they had, after I checked to see what other cook books they had, then found some joke books and forgot about the pasta book until we were a few blocks away. I got the joke books, figuring I might find a few good ones in them. The books turned out to be fairly lame.
I was doing really good at spending almost nothing and getting almost nothing until we got to the last yard sale. A couple weeks ago, we visited a yard sale of an artist who is moving out of state. We found her yard sale again. I have no idea what happened or how. I left there with a three-drawer plastic bin of stamping pads and inks, and some water colors. I also had a mini chopper. I found myself walking on an angle the rest of the day because my wallet was a little lighter. Once my head cleared and I checked, my wallet was only slightly lighter, not as bad as I was afraid when I saw the stuff in the car.
Off and on, I have wanted to get into stamping, but the ink pads were the biggest problems. I always only had black. Those are expensive. There was a period where the stamp section of craft stores were a real test between temptation over will-power. Will-power mostly won.
I had watched several episodes of a stamping show and saw that sticking an image onto the paper was not all you did. They smeared and streaked with them, multi colored the stamp, as just a few techniques they used. While I prefer paint, I can see myself doing stamping. There are times when waiting for paint to dry is not a viable option.
We got home and it took a bit to sort through and photograph my finds. The Cloud towers were building up. Radar showed them popping up in place, on the civilized side of the Everglades, and I had no idea which way they intended to go once they built. I relaxed until Lunch was ready. After lunch, about two, I decided that the weather was safe for me to work, so I pulled out the lathe.
I decided that today I would do an experiment. I had some warping of the wood while turning, which caused ripples where the tool dug into the wood after bouncing off the high point, and wanted to find out if the ring direction would effect how much bounce I would get as I turned. Last weekend, I marked two blanks for which side I would start with.
Part way through the first one, I decided my bowl gouge needed to be sharpened. I was doing well but could see the tool was not cutting right.
I powered up the grinder and worked the metal a little bit and then realized I had the angle wrong, too upright Because of the angle of the bevel I already had ground on the tool, the edge was getting ground while the heal of the bevel was untouched. I changed the angle and continued to grind it. In a couple minutes, I had a good angle right all the way around. The metal heated up quite a bit. I went “ouch” when I was to feel the edge to make sure it was sharp. This is one reason it is better to sharpen with a slower grinder.
Usually you have water next to the grinder so you can dip the tip in very often to cool it down to prevent overheating. I sort of forgot about that. We do have a tray of water on the other side of the stuff in the way so after a moment walk, I dunked the end in that water. It was still warm but the edge proved to be sharp. I still used the diamond stone on it for just a little extra honing on the edge.
This tool is made of a speed-steel. It has more exotic metals within the steel that makes it up. Carbon steel would have developed bluing when overheated, which is a sign that the temper, the hardness and strength was lost. This speed steel takes a lot more to lose the temper and usually go well past bluing of the metal. Even so, a slower grinder would not heat up as much. If I had thought of it, was energetic and had the time, I would have grabbed the crank grinder and put it to work.
The tool cut a lot better and easier after sharpening than before. It ate wood nicely. With the bottom shaped the way I wanted it, I took the platter off, sat down at the table, and took the time to find the new center of the work. I got a chance to rest a little while doing this. When I put it back on with my marked center, it was pretty good.
As I worked, I nicked the edge. In correcting that error, and correcting the corrections, I made the platter a smaller diameter than I intended. When I took it off I was satisfied enough with the results.
After a short break, checking the radar, I set up the second platter. I worked it like the first. I removed a lot of sawdust easily. Again, I sat down and located the center anew. This time I nearly nailed it!
I finished the platter in what seemed record time. The finish on these are well below grade, but I intend to spend more time in finishing them later. Right now, I am just in the making stage.
I learned absolutely nothing about the warping of the wood. I think a sharp tool and a light touch when I run into it, will solve the problem. The high point will disappear to the light touch without removing a whole lot of wood. I don’t remember fighting the bounce when I made a bunch of these platters a while ago. It might be a result of this batch of wood or I was not in effect the way I was working, or something else. I just happened to notice it this time.
When working metal, unless you are using the hand tools of the 1700s, the cutting tool is mounted solidly on a a tool holder. The big advantage of that is that one can make fine passes, sometimes without changing any settings, and shave away high points that might appear (metal does expand when hot and bend against the pressure of the tool). With that system, one can get ultra fine accuracy in dimensions if patient enough.
With wood working, except for specific situations, visually close is good enough. There are wood workers who use metal working lathes for wood turning. I do it when I make crochet hooks. When I want a specific size or use an exotic (for me) wood
This experiment reminded of something I knew but had totally forgot. The decision to have the rings bend up or down, depends on the effect/look one is after. A pattern forms in the center of the plate based on the rings. When the plate is worked with the rings curving up at the edges, tree rings form ovals because the rings are lowest in the center, where the platter is cut the lowest. As the rings curve up, so does the platter surface so the cuts into the rings get farther apart.
When the rings curve down at the edge, Hourglass forms appear. You are cutting through the backs of the arch which runs from one end of the board to the other so the rings end up going somewhat straight through the piece.
If you really want a good set of platters, one should make sure that the rings curve the same way through all the platters so they really look like a matched set.
One problem with working with wood, is that the only way to correct a mistake is to remove more wood. In wood carving especially, the secret of the master is to know how to hide mistakes so they look like they were intended. It is not uncommon for a prolific wood worker, to have a pile of unfinished work that had some major mistake in them. Actually, they tend to be tossed in the garbage or burned. As they get better, they have less unfix-able mistakes because they know how to avoid mistakes better.
With my first platter for the day, it became smaller because I had to correct an error and then make it right.
I am going to have to get another board to make more platters. That day will likely be used up just in preparing the blanks to work. I do have one more blank unturned. It has knots I want to save and have viewed in the work. It was the first piece I grabbed and could not see where I wrote bottom on it, then I noticed the knots. I do love knots in the pieces. It adds extra interest to the pieces.
I showed a picture of the platters to a friend and he said I should make a set for tick-tack-toe.
It is really unusual for me to be on a binge of making one thing. I always work on something that catches my attention OF THE MOMENT, and this has had longevity. Most seldom last more than a week or a couple weeks if it is one project.
I guess part of it is that I have several goals involved in making them. I want to build skills to demonstrate the making of the platters. I have decided I would like a couple sets of matched plates that MIGHT be good gifts. I am having fun making them, I am learning and redeveloping skills.
I have some things at home to do tomorrow. I have a frozen loaf of bread thawing and a bunch of bones to crock pot. The place will smell wonderful most of the day.
Next week I want to get another board and if possible, cut it into squares.
I will see what I actually do next week.
sine mall, mostly animal stamps.
The inks and paints were all in this drawered bin.
inking pads of many colors and multiple colors
stamping ink bottles
a set of tube paints. I think these are acrylic.
to the left is the first platter I made, Note the oval ring pattern. also note it is smaller than the one of the right where I corrected a nick in the dedge.
The right handed one has the hour glass ring pattern.