I am a born and bred Orcadian, who has been practicing the craft of wood turning for over 28 years, and self-taught. I have honed my skills using a combination of practice, experimentation and the desire to produce fine attractive pieces. I was accepted onto the Register of Professional Turners in 2017.
What craft do you work with?
I started woodturning as a hobby, in my spare time, while working as a commercial fisherman. I turn ornamental wooden bowls and hollow forms. I also turn small wooden boxes with traditional hand chased threaded lids. I decorate pieces with pyrography and hand or mechanical carving, some traditional dyes are used to further enhance certain pieces.
What inspires you to work with this craft?
Being a born and bred Orcadian the traditions and culture of the islands has a large influence in my work. Neolithic sites and digs are a great source of inspiration whether it is decorated stones or pottery finds. Having worked at sea for many years nautical items from vessels and the sea shore are also a great influence.
How do you start your creative process?
I bring in a few logs sourced from firewood processors. These are then slabbed on our saw mill or processed with a chainsaw into manageable blanks. Quite often I will turn bowls from this green timber to a finished product in one go. This encourages the finished piece to distort and produce an organic shape that I have no control over. This can give an extra tactile dimension to the finished work. Other pieces are part turned and left to dry for a few months before being turned to a finished shape. I find this combination of dealing with the timber gives me the greatest scope.
How would you best describe your workspace and what tools could you not do without?
A purpose built workshop constructed eight years ago when I became a full-time turner. It houses all the equipment and tools for my day to day turning.
Are there new techniques you would like to try?
Sometime I would like to build or buy an ornamental lathe.</p><p>I would like to incorporate sandblasting as a decorating technique.
What have you learnt or the best advice you have received that you would like to share with fellow crafters?
Paraphrasing from a woodturning video I watched many years ago. “If you aren’t breaking any pieces, you’re not trying hard enough” also “you must make that final cut”.
What professional dream do you have?
I hope to carry on making a living from woodturning and continue to develop my work with new techniques and designs.
Orkney Islands, Scotland
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Orcadian, self-taught, professional woodturner
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