About   |   Donate   |   Store   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join AAW
Woodturning News: General News

EVANSVILLE COURIER & PRESS: Indiana Kentucky Illinois Woodturners help keep craft alive (11/04/2016)

Friday, November 4, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share |
EVANSVILLE COURIER & PRESS: Indiana Kentucky Illinois Woodturners help keep craft alive (11/04/2016)

There is something enticing about the silky surface and warmth of a piece of turned wood. Earthy, yet elegant; artistic but utilitarian; plain and austere or elaborately carved. Turned pieces have universal appeal. Maybe it's rooted, simply, in the soothing round shapes all turned pieces share.

“Woodturning is a fairly broad category in terms of the types of materials you can use and the size and use of the finished pieces,” said Eric Gourieux, president of the local IKI Woodturners. “Yet it is specific because every piece is spinning on a lathe to be formed, so it must be round, or have something round in its form. When people ask me what I make, I tell them round stuff. Bowls, vases, spindles, long skinny things like pens or Harry Potter-style wands, they are always round, whether they are skinny or hollow, cupped or flat.”

At a recent IKI meeting, Gourieux demonstrated how to turn a bowl from a chunk of rough wood. About 20 members congregated at Duncan's Woodworking in Newburgh to see the demonstration, share tips and talk about new creations.
Eric Gourieux, president of the IKI Woodturners, demonstrates

Eric Gourieux, president of the IKI Woodturners, demonstrates the technique for forming a simple turned bowl on the lathe. (Photo: Aimee Blume/Special to the Courier & Press)

Gourieux explained, later in an interview, that to begin, a turner must choose the right piece of wood — or other material, which could be acrylic or even a soft stone such as alabaster.
ADVERTISING
inRead invented by Teads

“First you choose the right wood or material for your project,” he said. “This could be wood gathered from local trees that have been damaged or cut down or a more exotic wood ordered for the purpose. We love burls because the texture and grain are very interesting; one of the fun things for me is that I often don't know what the wood is going to look like until I start turning and getting into it. But sometimes a woodturner doesn't want an interesting grain pattern. If they want to add a stain, burning, texturing or carving, they'll usually choose a bland piece of wood so the pattern doesn't take away from the finished piece.”

Bowls are probably the most commonly turned item, but they are never made from a simple cross section of a log. The interior of a log tends to be pithy, so it is not used. The bowl is formed from a fairly fresh, high-moisture chunk of wood near the outer edge of the tree and usually not with the grain running vertically, for the sake of a more interesting pattern. This chunk is roughed into a disk shape to begin and then placed on the lathe, a machine which will spin the disk on its central axis as special tools are used to carve the shape of the bowl.

Fragrant curled wood shavings piled up on the floor as Gourieux slowly peeled away slivers of wood from the exterior of his demonstration chunk to make the shape of the bowl emerge. Next, he turned the form around on the lathe and began hollowing out the center.
After the extra wood is carefully shaved away from

After the extra wood is carefully shaved away from the exterior of the bowl, the shape emerges. The center will be hollowed, and then the piece will be sanded. (Photo: Aimee Blume/Special to the Courier & Press)

Hollow items take a lot of skill to turn, he explained, especially the taller and narrower versions such as vases or anything with an opening narrower than the hollow bowl of the piece. The sides and bottoms must be of even thickness, and great care must be taken when hollowing out the centers.

“It takes a different set of tools to do hollow forms like a vase in contrast to a bowl,” Gourieux said. “It's hard to stick something way down inside a narrow vase. We have long poles we use to get in there. I have one that's six feet long. It can be dangerous, but I really like to make the big vases, I enjoy the process. My tallest one is 36 inches; you really have to reach down in there.”

After a piece is completely shaped, the surface is rough sanded and painted with a sealant to permit the wood to dry slowly and evenly. Some carvers place plastic wrap around the edges to keep them from drying too quickly and cracking. Only after the piece is uniformly dry can the surface be finely sanded, polished and then oiled, stained or decorated in any fashion the artist desires.
Turning can be done with materials other than wood.

Turning can be done with materials other than wood. This fanciful acrylic lidded box was made by Brian Hart. (Photo: Aimee Blume/Special to the Courier & Press)

After Gourieux's demonstration, members unpacked the new pieces they brought to share and discuss. They brought out plain, smooth bowls and pen casings; vases; pieces with lids, knobs, and even some square elements finished after the turning process was complete. Colors ranged from the deepest walnuts to pale maple to some colorful pieces by turner Brian Hart, who specializes in small fanciful lidded boxes of mixed materials including bright acrylic, wood and metal.

IKI stands for Indiana Kentucky Illinois Woodturners, and the 60 members come from southern Illinois, Kentucky and around Evansville up to Fort Branch. The group meets once a month, has a website and newsletter and participates in various woodworking shows and other exhibits around the area. Some of Gourieuxs pieces can be found at Nance Gallery and the Evansville Museum.

“We like to support the local groups like the Evansville Arts Council so people can see what we do,” Gourieux said. “A lot of people don't know about woodturning, and we want to get our stuff out there. Anybody who wants to come to a meeting to watch or get involved is welcome, and we really enjoy the opportunity to do demos for groups, be it a church group or school.”

View source and photos.

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal