Monday, 14 April 2014

Turned my first bowls

I have just spent the last two days on a bowl turning course using a pole lathe with Sharif Adams. Sharif is a very good turner and a great teacher who runs courses from the woodland where he lives with his partner Fern as part of a community in Devon. He has a website and blog. Website Blog with all the info on his courses.
The community live in Steward woods on 32 acres of plantation woodland on a steep hillside, located in the beautiful Wray Valley on the edge of Dartmoor. The community was founded in 2000 and is currently twelve adults and nine children.

They live in temporary structures and experiment with permaculture, land use, woodland management and home education. You can find more information. On their website and please like their Facebook page if you are on Facebook as they are going through planning applications which are costly and they could do with as much support as possible.

I arrived at Steward wood early Saturday morning and was met by Sharif who is very friendly and welcoming. We had some coffee and then set to work turning a bowl.

Sharif showed me how the lathe and tools work and I practiced on a small bowl.

I have never turned on a lathe before and I found it challenging yet very rewarding. Trying to keep the tools at the right angle and operating the foot powered lathe and trying to use the hooks to cut and not dig in, there is a lot to take onboard but I loved it.

After a very nice lunch that Sharif made we started up again and I completed my first bowl.

We retired for the day and had some tea that Fern prepared which was very nice, we drank cider and looked through books and chatted about bowls and design.

The next day I lit the fire and got ready for the day ahead going over the things I had learned the day before. We had some breakfast and we started up again carving a bigger bowl.
I think it was a combination of the talks we had the night before and the inspiration from the very nice swedish bowls from the books that helped produce my second bowl.

As this bowl had a large rim which I wanted to undercut on the inside of the bowl.This is tricky to stop the tools from snagging and tearing through the rim so I asked for some help from Sharif.

The shape turned out rather nice and i was very pleased with my second bowl.

After lunch I started to turn my third bowl.
This bowl was a smaller bowl with less depth and I really was really pleased with how it turned out.

 All in all I had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed the course, I found that sharifs enthusiasm for turning and bowl design very catching and that the weekend carving and the learning of a new craft has inspired me.
All I have to do now is get my lathe set up and get turning.

Here are the bowls once they had dried a little. Once completely dry I will oil
Them and get some more pictures to show.

I would like to wish Sharif, Fern and everyone at Steward woodland community all the best for the future, I hope the planning can see that the work and inspiration you provide inspires the powers that be to let you carry on for years to come.
 Projects like this are vital not only for nature but also for human beings to be able to step back and remember why we are here. 
My visit to Steward woodland community was a very a grounding experience for me.
Good luck for the future and thanks.