Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Good wood or bad wood?

Please note that this is intended as a guideline not as gospel and doesn't allow for personal allergies etc that can arise. 

Certain woods are often used for making things that are for use with food that are potentially dangerous. Some are obviously not good such as yew and laburnum, both of which have potential dangers inherent in their makeup. As a simple guide, traditionally things for food have always been made from beech or sycamore, both because of their ability to withstand washing etc and because they are known to have no harmful substances in them. There are those who say that most woods are sterile after being cut but personally I would be wary. It may be a myth but there is a story of the Romans coming over here and seeing the druids drinking out of goblets made of yew. Yew was one of the woods that was sacred to them (the druids). The Romans went ahead and made cups etc from yew and found that with prolonged use they were poisoning themselves. The druids apparently only used them for ceremonial use. If you ere to Google 'toxic woods' you would probably frighten yourself off ever using anything of wood again but be sensible. Something that is going to be taking a pounding such as a mortar and pestle or a chopping board will inevitably have something of the wood in the food so stay safe and stick with beech or sycamore. Hazel is also a safe wood but isn't often found in large enough sections to make things like these.

For those who have access to it (North American turners) maple ( of which sycamore is one) is also considered food safe as the tree family apparently has some anti bacterial properties in it.
Other woods that can be used include cherry and birch (birch sap is used to make a drink as well)
The greatest danger from wood being used for food stuffs is however not so much from the wood as the finishes used. Drinking vessels were traditionally finished off by melting beeswax into the cup so that it impregnated the grain. Modern finishes would include melamine or an oil such as liquid  petroleum or mineral oil (sounds awful but is sold as a food safe oil) Vegetable oils can be used as well as long as they are not left untouched for a great length of time as they can go rancid.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Thanks so much to Pod bags for the Sunshine award. I will do a search and pass it on to another 12 deserving bloggers.

Awarded to
Minky Magic
Carl Martin
OOAK Fairy

More to come

Saturday, 13 February 2010

New idea

Prompted by a thread on a craft forum I will be posting various ideas and things to think about when buying handcrafted wooden items and in particular turned items. There is a huge amount of really top class work out there if you know where to look but there is also a lot of tat as well. I won't be pointing fingers or mentioning any names negatively but I may point towards work that is an example of quality. Anyone who is as ignorant of wood as I am of say jewellery will hopefully find it useful and help when thinking of spending hard earned cash on something in wood. If anyone has any queries regarding this please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer it.

New crotch piece

Crotches are always a bit of a random exercise and you never know quite what they will look like when you start turning them. Again this is hawthorn but a bit smaller than the last one. Looks a bit like a hand this time. I was tempted to carve away part of it and call it a finger bowl lol. This one is about 6" along the long section

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Ego boost

When you make things for sale, if you have any sense of responsibility and lack personal confidence you are always on tenterhooks whatever you sell as there is always the chance that the customer may not like what they have paid good money for. The very fact that someone is willing to part with cash for something that you have made is an ego boost in itself but you still worry about it. I put the bowl in the last posting up for sale and it sold within 2 hours. To someone who has seen my work before and that was a real ego boost. Why then do I still worry that she won't like it? if anyone reading this is a crafter, I hope that you feel the same and never lose the sense of awe that someone is willing to pay fr things that you make. Half the pleasure at least has to be in the fact that what you do for fun as well as perhaps a living gives pleasure to someone. What better way of earning a living is there?

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Something new

OK, so it's nearly valentines day so decided to do a heart bowl. Not being terribly romantic it resembles an actual organ rather than the traditional cupid thing but it's a heart shape right!!!!

It's approx 6" diameter made from a hawthorn crotch and finished with a natural beeswax.

Older stock

I have been uploading some older stock I had that I had put aside for craft fairs. It's been going into Folksy mainly but some into Misi as well. Quite a few smaller bowls (pin bowls I call them)

And weed / twig pots

Sunday, 7 February 2010


And now we have something to put the mini bowls etc onto. This is 1/12th scale again and would be 2' tall and 18" wide in real terms. You can work out how big it actually is.

Old into new

Mahogany is out of fashion nowadays which suits me as there is a lot of it ready to be recycled. Using a bit of spirit dye it can look like this 12" fruit bowl.

or this smaller 6" one. The pretty boring grain of mahogany can be brought out and shown to it's best effect and produce a stunning looking piece of turning. 

Both these bowls are turned fairly thin but are still strong and practical.  Both are also made from recycled wood. Modern mahogany is often a different wood to the one used in old furniture which has a lovely warm glow to it when polished up. Traditionally used in formal tables and sideboards it was a favourite for a long time.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Something old

I have been posting a fair bit of work that I have een doing lately but thought it might be good to show some of the work I do that is perhaps a bit different. I love rustic work where the natural wood and / or barl is left on to contrast with the smooth finish of the turned wood. These are examples of the sort of thing I love doing

This is made from yew, it's about 8" diameter and has a rim that is natural wood contrasting sharply with the inner bowl

I call these natural edged goblets 'Chantrelle Goblets' as they remind me of the chantrelle mushrooms. This one is 7" tall, made of hawthorn and is decorative only

This vase is made again of hawthorn and stands 6" tall. The bark naturally developed the hawk like shape as it was turned. Note the natural inclusion or hole in the side.

More small things

Having gone back to doing small scale items I did a few more today

From lefty to right, Pedestal bowl, Mortar & pestle, pair of candlesticks inc of wax, rolling pin, large vase. 
All are 1/12th scaled.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Loads of new stuff on Folksy

I have just spent the afternoon putting up a load of new things on Folksy ...well they aren't newly made but I am getting my shops sorted and putting more stock up there. To check it out go to my folksy shop

More buttons

These are little ones inspired by someone asking for a pair of 15mm ones. I had a practice first as that is pretty small to make on a lathe and these were the result. These are all mahogany and are now up for sale on Misi or Folksy 

Also did some in a bit of walnut I had left over, these are 30mm 

and these are 25mm. Also up for sale. If your interested have a look see what else I have got (he said blatantly self promoting. LOL)

Monday, 1 February 2010

Another weird box

Again it's in hawthorn with an ebonised finial and base.

It's approx 4 tall, 7" with the lid on.