The last of the traditional pole lathe turners who can turn wooden drinking flasks. I filmed Ion Constantin (who was then in his 70s) in Romania in 1998.
Fan bird carving is a form of folk art woodcarving that has been practised all over Europe, from Romania to Russia and from Poland to Scandanavia, and was often executed with nothing more than a pocket knife to while away the time. I shot this video at the annual gathering of the Association of Pole […]
Attended by 170 guests, delegates and turners, Axminster Tool Centre hosted the Strictly Woodturning event. Similar to the BBC’s popular Strictly Come Dancing, this was a competition in which the 12 turners competed against each other at the lathe and were tasked with producing items such as a vase, goblet and lidded box in an incredibly short eight minutes.
We all like objects that move and do things, and this electronic age has brought us some fantastic toys and novelties, but they all need batteries! Fun objects such as this automaton can amuse and entertain using the simplest of mechanical technology and can be made by anyone using basic woodworking skills. This example of […]
The earliest evidence that I am aware of for marquetry/inlay is a remarkable casket from the city or UR, in Mesopotamia dated c2600 BC. Much of the work is cut from ivory and set in bitumen and is a pictorial representation of a mixture of royal and daily life. Not until the European renaissance do […]
All lathes by their very nature rely on a revolving work piece. To capture and impart this motion, to devise and create the required force has challenged mans ingenuity back into pre-history. Man has been using the momentum provided by a spinning weight for tens of thousands of years in the form of drop spindles […]
The wheel is probably man’s most important technological discovery. A Sumarian pictogram dated 3500BC is the earliest reference for the wheel. By 2000BC man was making spoked wheels yet the earliest pictorial reference we have of a wheel driven lathe seems to be from the 15th century.
From classical times man has harnessed wind and water to work heavy machinery, to relieve him of hard physical labour and to speed up production. A Roman settlement C.200AD in southern France boasted sixteen water mills for grinding corn. It may be that this form of motive power was used to drive lathes also but […]
Man has always tried to find ways of making manual tasks easier and the businessman methods to reduce manpower, speed production and lower operating costs. A good illustration of this was the manufacture of rifle butts. Hand held firearms have existed since the Middle Ages and virtually all these weapons incorporated a hand fashioned wooden […]
I left school in 1957 aged 15 years with notions of being an archaeologist or naturalist, or even a film cameraman, but with not one qualification to my name. My furniture-making farther said that I had no choice but to seek a job in the local furniture industry. There has been such an industry in […]
“These are my most important tools”, said my host, looking at two home made knives, one ground from a worn-out hacksaw blade, and an old ‘Surform’ rasp. I was standing in Raymond Harvey’s makeshift back-garden workshop, which reflects his general approach to his work, being a structure consisting completely of recycled materials. There, standing majestic in the […]
‘Yon cottager, who weaves at her own door, Pillow and bobbins all her little store; Content though mean, and cheerful if not gay, Shuffling her threads about the livelong day, Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night Lies down secure, her heart and pocket light.’ Lines written by the poet William Cowper (1733-1800) describing […]
Virtually no visitor returns from Russia without a painted wooden souvenir reflecting the traditional ‘Khokhloma’ folk art. Khokhloma ware has a very long tradition and can be traced back to both the monastic and peasant culture of the seventeenth century. The predominant materiel used in making these various decorated containers and tableware is Birch, Lime […]
The proud brick quoined flint cottage still stands alone on Summer Heath, once home to the Rockall family for an uninterrupted 180 years. But no longer can freshly cut Beech butts be seen stacked in the shade of a tall hedge or the whinny of Dapple, the family cart horse be heard from the meadow. […]
There is nothing parochial about the International Turning Exchange (ITE); this is born out by the number of residents who have participated from many parts of the globe over the last ten years. For me an indicator of the programme’s great success was the number of past residents who chose to return to Philadelphia to […]
In some parts of England there is a tradition of carved wooden signs depicting the unique qualities of the area and often erected on the village green. Usually created by a local craftsman, they instill a sense of identity and pride, and are rivaled only by the English pub sign for originality. They are part […]
Today’s flower arrangers are spoilt for choice. Wonderful natural material is available from around the globe, all the year round. Fifty years ago one had to rely on what was grown in season in one’s own garden or the limited range stocked by the local florist whose main business was supplying weddings and funerals. It’s […]
How long has man been turning wood? Almost certainly longer than we have evidence for! What did the first lathe look like? We are not sure, but we can come to a reasonable conclusion bearing in mind the materials and technology available. There are just a few early illustrations that give us some insight plus […]
Woodturning has played more than a supporting role in the history of chair making. From the ancient Egyptians, who used the lathe for turning chair parts, to the latest computer-controlled copy lathes man has endeavored to decorate his furniture and solve the practical turning problems that arise. Some of the earliest evidence of turned work […]
Forget Lapland and Father Christmas, cease searching for Gusepie’s fictional workshop where Pinocchio was created. The real ‘toy-land’ is alive and well in old Saxony, This beautifully rural East German region encompasses the Erzgebirge mountains that shares a border with the Czech Republic. This whole area is dotted with small medieval towns and villages with […]