Thursday, June 10, 2010

Latest From the Shop

I’ve been rushing to meet some project deadlines.

I lost an entire day yesterday, what with the water related crisis and sleep deprivation (More on that later).

So tonight instead of writing I was out in the shop finishing up those projects.


First, three more of those bear statues I do for the Air Force. These were a rush job – but aren’t they all? It normally takes me a week or so to make one, in this case they needed three.


You’ll notice the urn in the above picture – that’s custom made for a nice lady who has been waiting patiently for me to finish it.  It’s made from spalted Alaskan Birch and rosewood.  You’ll also notice the pens. The next picture is a close up of those.


A lot of turners make pens, some only make pens.

Not me.

In fact, I’ve never turned pens before. But one of the places I buy turning supplies from in Anchorage had a bunch of pen kits on sale last week and I thought I’d give it a try. A pen kit is the metal hardware and the ink cartridge, you supply the wood for the barrel. I never throw wood scrap away and have plenty of interesting stuff to turn pens from.  Turns out that making pens is a lot of fun, I turned each of these while waiting for the finish on the bear statues to dry.


And this last picture is a pair of coffee cups I turned for my dad for Father’s day, made from walnut and butternut. I really like how those came out. The dish is a square turned piece of quilted maple.


That’s it for tonight, folks. I’m beat, I’m going to bed.


  1. As always, Jim. Beautiful stuff. You have a truly wonderful talent.

  2. I love that urn! How rich must I be to order one?

  3. Forgot to add that those bears are really, wow.

  4. You have been busy - wow!

    So can you get fountain pen kits? The internet says yes, though I didn't track down whether any of the kits can take a converter instead of a cartridge so they can be refilled. I must have my Noodler's ink.

    I think the turned pens are lovely, but... ballpoints. I'd be very interested in a fountain pen model. Splurging on a pen seems like a lovely way to celebrate the convergence of my first (very minor) fiction sale and my 40th birthday, don't you think?

  5. I second Phiala's interest in the idea of turned fountain pens, although that thought may what pushes me over the edge into acquiring a small lathe.

  6. Niiiice!
    Those Butternut middles are great!

    Now if only work and summer projects would just go away, I'd have more time to turn ;)

  7. No, no, you people are all WRONG. Did you not see the word 'coffee' up there? Yet here you all are, complimenting pens and urns and such. Pshaw.

    Ahem. Sorry.

    Jim, I'll send you an email; I hope you are accepting commissions for one of those coffee mugs..

  8. Ewan, I would normally agree with you, but I already own the perfect coffee mug.

    It is not as attractive, of course, but it is entirely spillproof and keeps my coffee hot. It's a travel-mug-sized vacuum-sealed stainless steel container with dual lids: a spill-resistant one to drink from and a completely spill-proof screw cap.

    I can throw it in my backpack without fear. This is very important.

  9. Pens! I lovelovelove pens. Can I beg a pen. TheHusband is less likely to notice a small package from Palmer than a big box. I'm not a pen freak -- ballpoint is just fine!

    Phiala -- what is your spill-proof coffee cup? I need one.

  10. Beemodern, drop me an email and we can discuss an urn. They do take a while to make because the birch has to dry for at least a month, sometimes longer.

    Phiala, I can make you fountain pens. But since you have specific requirements as an artist, please drop me an email so I can get the specifics correct.

    Mensely, I can also make you fountain pens. And if you are interested in purchasing a lathe and getting into turning I'd be happy to offer advice.

    Karl, Remember all that maple you gave me? I finally found a cool use for it. That light colored pen in the picture is made from it. It's perfectly sized to make pens from, pens with a unique history. Cool huh? I may make a bunch, and then offer them wholesale to the UAA store.

    Ewan, I've replied to your email.

    Doc, yes. I've got something special in mind for you. And you know, you should probably get two - so you'll have one for the husband ;)

  11. Fountain pens!

    Apparently I do a credible imitation of the kind of artist who has actual requirements for fountain pens. I'm not; I'm just an office supplies geek. I have romantic dreams of being the kind of writer who uses a fountain pen and a leatherbound notebook to craft novels of surpassing artistry, but. Well. Keyboard and semi-readable prose it is.

    And art involving string but not ink.

    My favorite thing about fountain pens is the infinite reusability and the wide range of inks available. I have one that was designed to look just like Mercurochrome. Which has forced me to spend a lot of time explaining to younguns just what Mercurochrome was... The ink is exceedingly bright and great for doing copyediting.

  12. I totally want a wood pen too. I don't care if it's a ballpoint; I'm not fussy about that. I like fancy pens when I write in my diary... um, journal.

  13. ...all that maple...

    Yep - I remember - still got about 800# of the stuff cluttering up the yard, too - need some more, just ask... If it helps the history, it all came from the Ladd Elementary School gym here in Fairbanks and has been run over by sock-footed kids for almost 35 years.

    I was trying to think of a way I could make mug covers that still had freethrow lines on them. hehheh

  14. That would explain the smell...


  15. Why I think I stopped my plans - nobody wants sweatsock up under their nose while quaffing coffee - takes the shine right off it. hee

  16. I dunno, Karl, I bet you could sell a boatload to gym teachers and coaches.

    Not to mention that Lassie chick from the movie Porky's...


  17. Bwahahaha!


    Hey, now - little whistle holders on the side, or hooks to hang a jockstrap, or something.

  18. Thanks either way, Jim. We're about to move and while one of my priorities is to have workshop space, we'll see what happens. Good thoughts towards my future wood shavings are appreciated!

  19. Putting in a lathe is tempting and since I've given up on film, I don't need the space for the dark room anymore.

    What Lassie chick from Porky's, I do remember one who howled.

  20. Warner it's one of the defining moments of the film.

    Lassie (Kim Cattrall) and the assistant coach having sex in the locker room while her wolf-like howls are heard throughout the gym. Next to the tallywacker scene in the principal's office that's one of the funniest scenes in the movie.

  21. Is that a plate that I see next to the pens?

  22. Pens. Coffee mugs. *drool*

    Seriously, it's all lovely, but those pens and mugs are seven kinds of stunning.

  23. Jim, don't bother making one for TheHusband -- he loses pens at an alarming rate. However, I'd happily take a second one so's I can have one at work and at home. And make all my coworkers jealous, y'know.


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