It has taken weeks of endured effort and concentration for our woodturner, Ian Sugden, to bring his vision for this substantial piece, Psephos, to fruition.
From the very beginning, when the tree arrived at our workshop, Ian had big plans when he saw the characteristics of this wood. The bark had grown around a natural hollow in the trunk – a quite rare occurrence that he wanted to exploit.
In April 2013 the piece of timber was cut from the tree and mounted on the lathe. The rough turning took over 40 hours to hollow out to around an inch thickness whilst leaving the bark on the inside face of the rim. A difficult task when the opening is less than 10 cm and the bowl is over 70 cm in diameter!
With most of the material removed the bowl had begun to take shape – a large, smooth, boulder-like form. But despite his enthusiasm, now began the waiting game. The bowl was placed in our wood shed and left to season and dry.
Over a year later, July 2014, and the hollow form bowl, now fully seasoned and unlikely to crack or split, is back on the lathe.
Carefully, more and more of the wood is removed, mostly from the inside through the tiny porthole opening. Carving and removing timber, feeling for smoothness, checking for thickness. The worst thing would be to take too much away and go through!
Days of work pass and as the form becomes close to its desired thickness, now only 10mm, the next stage begins to smooth out the uneven areas. Unable to sand the piece whilst spinning on the lathe due to the narrowness of the hole, Ian had to do most of it by hand.
His attention to detail and his vision for a perfect outcome kept him focused. More than six days were spent evening out and smoothing the inside and outside surfaces. The lumps often not appearing until a layer or two of oil finish had been applied, just to be sanded back again.
As the surface became smoother the wood began to reveal its colours, tones and subtle textures.
Several layers of oil applied and burnished, each layer taking a day to cure and the satisfaction of all Ian’s determination was on everyone’s faces.
A wonder to behold – we call is Psephos.
Below: the base