Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Drawing the Bowl

One of the more difficult things for a wood turner to learn is where to watch the lines form for a turning. Most of the time we like to look at the tool edge to see where the action is and likely to watch out for a catch.

One of the problems with this is the tendency to over compensate for a cut that is not quite right and make the wrong move with the tool. This produces a dig that needs to be cleared up and produces more work than necessary. What is desired is to be able to see the lines of the piece develop and to make small adjustments in the line of the result. An artist on paper would tell you not to look at the pencil tip but rather at the line.

So a wood turner needs to look away from the tool and seek instead to watch the line of the developing piece. This would then appear somewhat as in the accompanying video. The tool is not seen, just the "ghost" of the piece. This is quite dramatic in this instance as determined by the shape of the piece.

In a very real sense, this is drawing in three dimensions. The only thing is, once a line is in place, it can not be erased except to make the piece smaller. It also leads to a style of turning similar to the broad styles of sketching.

Some artists sketch with a bold line from the top of the subject to the bottom. Others work in short lines. Generally both refine after the main idea in in place and perhaps ink and color as well. Similarly, some wood turners make broad and long cuts down the side of a vessel while others nibble away in small sections and blend it in later. Most of us combine the two.

In a case like this I seldom have a final idea of the shape of the piece except in general terms. This is after all, a bowl and not a vase. However, there may be undercuts or ogee curves or opportunity for carving or piercing or the like as the piece progresses. This is simply the fun of the turning.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Darrel,

I think this is a great video and a great tip for begining bowl turners and eve spindle turners... I indeed catch mydelf, looking at the tool all the time instead of at the "ghost" or the forming profile, and this is an important reminder.
A small comment, before doing this turners do need to feel comfortable with their cutting technique - otherwise it could lead to bad results...

Thank you!