Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Small Stuff

I usually turn and carve large bowls.  As some of you know, in addition to bowls and vases I also turn decorative birdhouses.

These are Eastern Red Cedar and polished Alaskan Birch.

Red Cedar Birdhouses 1


Lately, instead of turning larger and larger bowls, I’ve been going in the other direction, i.e. small, making doll house bowls and tiny little vases.

For an artist, it’s always a good thing to stretch a bit.  Stretch and squint… 

Since I was turning small bowls, I thought I would try some tiny doll house sized bird houses as well – which unlike the bowls require very, very exacting workmanship so that the pieces fit together.  I know a jeweler who makes small carved pendent earrings from exotic hardwoods (we’re not talking Kraft Korner here, his stuff sells for hundreds of dollars).  The meticulous skill behind this intrigues me.  I wondered if I could combine that particular art-form with turning.  

Here’s the first result (that I actually completed, there were other attempts, the pieces are scattered around the shop floor – entertainment for ShopKat).

Epe & Copper Ear Rings

These are Epe, a hardwood from South America.  The little roofs are rosewood, gilded In copper, as are the bases.  They are turned on my Midi lathe using little tiny turning tools and a great big magnifying glass. 

For something so small, they are a huge pain.


  1. Jim, those are wonderful! You are such a creative person. Thank you so very much for gracing your posts with photos of your work.

  2. Oh, I love them! My dad got into intarsia and the tiny little details are definitely killer. I found out years ago when I was crocheting thread, that often I wasn't actually looking at what I was doing...it was too small. I'm thinking turning wood wouldn't work like that!

    *BTW...my word verification for this comment was "dopers" who picks these things?

  3. But what do these have to do with politics etc? LOL
    They are amazing, wow! As an artist myself I have doen wall size to silver dollar sized art...I love trying diffrent styles and sizes!
    Nice job on the tiny work!

  4. Absolutely stunning. How about some birds to fit? (asks the bitch who has to use a magnifying light when she knits). I'd still like to see if you'd be willing to do a wood/knit project swap. Sweater for you or your wife? Afghan? Something to irritate your cat?

  5. Really nice!

    Did you go through a lot of tissue turning that Eastern Red Cedar?

    My nose would have had multiple

    (never mind)

  6. Micky-T, I use very good dust collection. Behind my lathes is a large 800cfm/1micron filter stack that pulls dust and fines away from the work and cleans the air. Sanding is typically done with the lathe reversed, which literally throws the dust directly at the filter intake mouth and away from me.

    If that's not enough, I have a Trend Airshield Pro powered filter helmet.

  7. I was going to say orgasm Jim, I love the smell of cedar.

    With all that filtering, I'd imagine your sense of smell would be restricted similar to putting on "two" condoms. Ha!

    I'm getting ready to put our house on the market so we can bail from the system for awhile (34' sailboat will be just fine). We have 6 Eastern Red Cedar closets on the main floor and I'm thinking of giving them all a quick sanding to freshen the scent, like an aphrodisiac to potential buyers.

  8. Powered filter helmet: this groomer wonders just how fast the filters would clog up with dog hair....

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  9. Jim: I get small. I went that route one afternoon. I turned these back to back. I started with Maple. It worked out well so I tried Hickory and sized it down. Lignum Vitae has a nice tight grain, so I used that for the next one, smaller still. I was having so much fun I put a sliver of Ebony in the mini-chuck...

    I've got a really old PowerMatic 48x9 that needs a new headstock bearing. It works pretty well despite the slight wobble.


  10. I saw a photo once of a necklace that Dave Ellsworth made for his wife, I think, it was spectacular, and I was inspired to try turning small.

    I'm not sorry to have tried it, but I couldn't hack it. Just don't have that kind of temperament I guess, it made me cranky.
    Easy to sweep up the shop afterwards, that's about the only positive I could find.

    Good looking work.
    I like the bigger bird houses too btw.

  11. Jim, the birdhouses and birdhouse earrings are gorgeous. I am always in awe of artists who can do such fine work. I know the effort involved.

    WardoMon, those goblets are stunning. The grain really shows on the tiny pieces, which is something that usually doesn't even get noticed on a large piece in those woods.

  12. Gorgeous!

    I know an avid birder who would love those and give them a good home. Are they for sale? Or maybe a commissioned pair? hmmmm?

    Do you know where your towel is?

  13. Lovely work - both the large & small.

  14. Needs some tiny birds peeking out of the holes.

    Yeah, yeah, everybody's a critic...

  15. These are amazing! Do you sell your wares anywhere?

  16. Yes. Write me at StonekettleStation@gmail.com and tell me what you're interested in.


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