Sunday, July 19, 2009

Latest Creations

I finished the second in my Hackberry series, Strawberry delight (formerly Roughberry). It is an 11 in dia bowl using the same techniques as with "Blueberry" bowl. Anodyne dye, with pryographed rim and the inside finished with food safe carnuba wax.

Strawberry Delight

I also finished my second carved, milk paint platter. As you see below I textured the back with while it was still on the lathe. Then using a new rotary triple bladed carving tool on a dremel I carved the "digital" pattern. The platter is black walnut and I could not decide what color milk pant to use, so I ordered 7 new milk paint colors. With the advice of Vencka, my lovely artistic consultant, we choose Soldier Blue which I think came out very nice. I am really enjoying using the milk paint, as it gives the wood pieces a very unique look.

Black Walnut - 9.5 in dia, carved w/rubbed milk paint
Back side - textured using an eighth inch parting tool

Close up

Saturday, May 23, 2009

New turning dimensions continued....

I am excite to show off two new artistic platters. The first is the one mentioned at our previous blog. The bowl and texture pattern (on the back side) were finished on the lathe. I then carved the sunburst motif and used a dremel tool for pattern around the bowl rim. Several coats of milk paint were applied then rubbed with scotch-brite abrasive pad when dry.

Modern day milk paint originates from home-made paint made on the back porch with skim milk or buttermilk, crushed limestone and pigments found around clay pits, or chimney soot and mineral colors crushed and powdered. This original paint goes back about 6000 and more years as evidence by early cave paintings. Milk Paint is environmentally safe and non-toxic. There is a slight milky odor when it is applied, but it is completely odorless when dry. Modern day milk paint uses milk protein, lime, clay, and earth pigments such as ochre, umber, iron oxide, lampblack, etc. The lime is alkaline but becomes totally inert when mixed with the slightly acid milk. Milk paint contains no hydrocarbons or any other petroleum derivatives. It comes as a dry powder and mixed with water.

One of the unusual properties of milk paint, due to the milk protein and lime, is it interacts with the wood changing its color. To make use of this property, after applying the paint I used an abrasive pad and rubbed off some the paint to expose high points in the carved wood. My piece is maple which was very light colored and the paint left the wood a dark copper color providing a very nice contrast to the yellow paint. It gives the piece a ceramic look.

The second platter is maple painted with an acrylic paint (same technique as the platter in the last blog), thenI carved in the pattern, completing with a matte lacquer finish. I am looking forward to exploring more textures and colors as well as using these techniques on other types of turnings.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Adding new dimensions ....

Two weeks ago I took a one day platter workshop from Al Stirt, a world reknown turner from Vermont, hosted by our local club, Chesapeake Woodturners. Al is know for his unique texturing and carving methods he incorporates into his turnings creating master piece works of art. He shared with us some of techniques during our eight hour hands on course.
I just finished the first piece I started in the course. It is a 13 in diameter mahogany platter with the wide rim painted in a black acrylic paint. Then following Al's methods, I drew the pattern using a watercolor pencil (the design is a replica from one of Al's platters), then I carved it using a recipicating carving tool. It is finished with several coats of satin spray lacquer. On back of the platter I turned a series of coves to create a unique texture. For my first attempt I am really happy with the piece, and now have a new dimension to include in my future turnings.
My second Al Stirt piece, a textured square platter is still in the works. It will incorporate the use of milk paint, I am excited to see the how it turns out.. and will share the result in the near future.

Carved Mahogany
Back side - Coves for texturing

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kitten Season has arrived

It has been a little over three weeks since I began raising the first of my 2009 litter of bottle babies and am happy to write that my little charges are doing very well. I received a litter of four and all four are thriving - one girl and three boys! Boneata, Scooter, Frodo and Bilbo have unknown beginnings other than being found in a box with eyes still closed and one with the umbilical chord still attached (5-7 days old) at the office of BFI in Baltimore. One of our Cats R Us members got a call about them, and I picked them up later that day. Thankfully, they were in excellent condition, other than a bit wet and hungry. By the time they nestled down that night they were wrapped in flannel and fleece in a warm bathroom. It did not take long for them to understand I was now mommy. Things didn't go as smoothly as they did in these photos every day, but it was fun trying to get them all nourished at one time. They have been incredibly easy to take care of and are going to be outstanding cats. Here are a few more pictures of those days a few weeks ago.

Scooter, the smallest kitten was the first to open his eyes.

Boneata says NO NOT THE HAIRDRYER! However once dry, goes to sleep under her fleece.

While everyone has a full tummy and ready to sleep again, Scooter wants some more cuddles.

Bilbo savors mealtime and does not waste a drop.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

One man's scrap .....

After a month hiatus we're back. Vencka is working with four bottle baby kittens and says she will be posting soon with her bottle baby dialogues (so everyone please give her a little nudge :-) ). We (mostly Vencka) have been out in our backyard woods collecting, chainsawing, and stacking downed trees and branches for firewood. Ever on the the lookout for turning wood I have started playing around with green and dry small diameter branches after have seen some pieces recently in Baltimore. I am attempting to turn natural edge, thin deep-V and martini glass shaped pieces out of the green wood unfortunately most have ended up back in the firewood pile. Below is one of my initial (and semi-success) trials, it is about two inches in diameter and 1.5 inches tall.

I am having more luck with with dry branches. I came across an unusual colored pinkish branch about two weeks ago that I could not resist trying to turn. The color reminded me of southwest/Mexican style clay pottery. With the that image in my mind I turned away, ever so careful of a crack (caused from the drying/rotting) lest it blow up on me! I was really happy with the result and added to two burned rings for style points.

My third scrap project came by way of my dad, a highly talented wood craftsman and carpenter. He had a old walnut table from my great-grandparents that was beyond repair, so he disassembled, cut up the top and legs and then laminated them back together in various sized and shaped blocks. He shipped out them all out a few weeks ago. Below is the first piece turned from a 5 inch block (photographed on one of the larger blocks). The "new" family cup is heading back west to my dad for his birthday next week.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's our anniversy baby...

Seven years today..oy vey .... my how the time flies when you are having fun. What a wonderful time it has been with the ever lovely Kitty Whisper. We enjoyed a lovely dinner on Main Street in Annapolis yesterday, how fortunate we are to have such culinary treasures in our local area. Tonight, I heard Vencka is serving up Champagne for us.. yaaa hooo.. while enjoy the company and love our menagerie of furry friends. Our two youngest Theodore (aka Theodorable) and Ole are just a trip. Always rough housing and trying to ambush eachother. Really pretty amazing since Ole cannot see a thing, and can be quite funny when he does his flying attack on where he thinks Theodore is crouching in waiting, only to find nothing but air and a hard floor!

We send our best to all the lovebirds out there, may your life and love be as special as ours!

L & V

Best Buds

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The mechanics of pen making

When I first started turning two years ago, I had no real interest in pen turning, and maybe even looked down at it as not "real" artistic turning. Fast forward to January, I was demonstarting for my local wood turner association, Chesapeake Woodturners, at the Timonium Wood Show. After my shift on the lathe, I went over to one of the local woodcraft supply store's booth where they provided opportunities for people to turn a pen free. So, I gave it try, and now I am hooked! The wood types, forms, and styles are endless.

One of local turners, Mike Merak, who turns pens professionally (see his site, The Wooden Quill) gave me some good advice as well a few pen kits for styles he no longer uses. Last weekend, I acquired the necessary specialized equipment for pen making and I was off and turning!

Below are the basic raw materials. The hard part of pen making is the preparation and assembly of the wooden blanks. Drilling the tube holes was most frustrating as I have a make shift drill press, which proved inadequate for the precision need for drilling pen blanks. Once again, our neighbor Tom Define and his full wood shop saved the day.

Blank being turned on the lathe.

And the final product!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Berry Series

We are still here! Vencka is working on some kitty fur material. She had busy week with adoptions, spay/neutering etc. Beautiful Lena got a home on Friday, though we had to pry my mother's hands away from her. More on all this from my lovely kitten whisper soon.

In December I turned one of two large Hackberry logs that were harvested last January. This was my first time working Hackberry, the bowl came out nicely but I was not overly impressed with color and grain patterns of the Hackberry. It is buttery yellow/white in color which is very nice, but rather bland in my opinion. One of early instructors and local artist Joe Dickey is known for his beautifully dyed pieces and I always have wanted to try my hand at dying a large piece. The Hackberry looked like a great candidate to experiment on trying my dying skills.

In practicing on some small scape pieces I noted some bleed over so I decided to pyrography (woodburn) the rim to "hide" any potential bleed over and after consulting some of my fellow turners I applied a coat of sanding sealer on the rim as well. The sealer worked well resulting in no bleed over, and the pyrography really added another dimension to the piece. After dying I applied several coats of lacquer and buffed the inside with carnauba wax.

My "Blueberry" bowl came out great! As you can see the dye really enhanced the grain patterns, and the contrast with buttery inside is quite nice.

Blueberry Delight - Approx 10" dia, 4" tall

I roughed out the my second Hackberry log a few weeks ago, and now waiting for the drying process to complete. I plan on dying it red to create my "Strawberry" bowl for part two of the Berry series.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wing and a prayer

Our neighbor and good friend Tom Define dropped off some extra firewood a while back, and much to my delight much if it is Maple (appears to be of the red variety). I have turned some natural edge pieces with it and one lidded box.

One of Vencka’s favorite styles of turning I do is the winged-bowl. Typically, I have used the crotch section of a tree, which produces some interesting grain patterns and a Y-shaped piece. These have been “natural” edged, letting the wood shape speak for itself. However, some of my “firewood” maple logs came pre-cut in blocks that are relatively square, so I decided to try turning a piece where I controlled the shape of the wings.

After truing up the block on a band saw, I let the chips fly. From a purely technical perspective, turning a wing bowl is not too difficult. The challenge is overcoming a certain amount of fear and nervousness. Unlike turning a normal bowl, where your tool (gouge) is in constant contact with the wood, when cutting a winged bowl the gouge is passing through air which has a potential of catching a wing if you don’t have good control. The result is possibly (most likely) reducing the bowl to firewood and/or personnel injury ( I typically turn at about 2000 rpm, so you imagine the interaction if you catch the wood wrong).

Fortunately, both the bowl and I are in one piece. I am quite happy with piece, nice grain patterns which are enhanced by the overall shape of piece. Also, I am finding this particular batch of maple is producing some interesting 3-D effects. The finished natural edge piece below exhibits this unusual 3-D effect, almost like you are looking at it through a polarized lens as the piece is rotated..... I am hoping will come out in the winged piece.

I am still working on the final finish; I decided to use multiple coats of hand-rubbed polyurethane to see if I can really bring out the 3-D effect. Unfortunately, the cold weather is not conducive for this process. I work out of my non-climate controlled garage so I am lucky to get one coat on a day. So lets hope for some one warmer weather soon!!!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Down hard....

We appologize for letting the chips and fur fall off. I came down with a bug as well as starting my new job this week, then of course I had to pass on the misery of my nasty bug to my lovely spouse. She has been trying to sleep it off the past two days. Sorry Vencka, dear!!

I have couple of new projects in the works and hope to share with you this weekend.

Ciao for now.. Louis

Monday, January 19, 2009

Let the chips and fur fly!

At the urging of blogging friends (Warren and Lisa, and Anne Beach) we are finally off and running on our own. Our aim is to share with you our adventures of our two passions - woodturning and cat rescue. We hope to give some insights in the fun, sense of fulfillment, the ups and downs, frustrations, and the host of other emotions kitten rescue and woodturning bring to our lives.

I (Louis) must say that originally I wanted to call our blog Wood Chips and Kitty Litter, but after a quick chuckle from Vencka I was quickly vetoed. However, if anyone wants to weigh in please do!

I may takes a few days to get into the swing of things so bare with us!

In the mean time here are some of our temporary furry friends:

This lovely Lena checking out her climbing skills on our Christmas tree.

Here is Ole (aka "the Snowman"), Lena's brother. Ole is blind from birth but you would never know it in the way he gets around and plays with the other kittens. He is truly a miracle.