Monday, 9 January 2012

Wood you believe it?

In September 2011 I was invited to have a stall at the Thrive Open Day; which proved to be a very fruitful day in more ways than one. I met a lovely couple who were intrigued by my driftwood whittlings. As our conversation progressed it emerged that the gentleman was Meir Weiss, a local wood artist who had made the fantastic abstract wood sculptures that I have always admired at Thrive. Meir very kindly offered me some of his off-cuts of wood to work on. A visit to Meir's amazing workshop in Mortimer saw me return home with several off-cuts of yew and beech and buzzing with ideas on how I wanted to work with the wood.
Here are some images of one of the pieces of yew in its 'raw state'.

I decided that I wanted to find a way of combining my ceramic work with this beautiful piece of wood and played around with several ideas in my sketchbook, gradually coming to the idea that the wood should emerge from a ceramic pod, like a shoot emerging from a germinating seed-
A little more work on refining this idea gave me the following sketch to work from-
I started by working on the piece of yew, leaving one drilled face of the piece largely untouched, smoothing the other drilled face to be gently undulating and working the flatest face to a really smooth finish. After a lot of work hand sanding the piece with increasingly finer grades of sandpaper, I polished the wood with beeswax to enhance the beautiful colour of the wood.
My next job was to make the 'pod' from clay. I made this by coiling the clay into an oval pod then cutting off a section to provide an opening into the pod. Here is a photo of the work in progress-
Whilst the clay was in its greenware state I coated both inside and outside with coloured slips. I also burnished the outside of the pod. After firing to biscuitware I took the pod home and 'smoked' it in burning sawdust, then polished it with beeswax whilst still warm. I was delighted with the finished result.
'Germination' - ceramic and yew (h~32cm, w~23cm)
For Christmas I asked for some woodworking tools so that I had a little more than just a penknife, surform and sandpaper. My requests were satisfied, so now I have a few basic tools; good saw, round surform and a couple of rasps, so no excuse not to work with more of the off-cuts that Meir gave me!
Below are images of before and after of a piece of spalted beech.

Spalted beech on slate (~26cm)

 I have yet to decide whether I leave this piece on the simple mount of slate or make a ceramic piece to compliment the wood.

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