Copying the Masters

When I was a young lad in college, I really enjoyed painting, especially painting with watercolors. I attended watercolor painting classes, and the teacher recommended that we try to copy the work of the Masters, so I did. When I was learning to play the guitar, and the piano, I learned how to copy the Masters, so to with my woodworking.

I guess there are very few woodworkers out there who are designing and making truly unique pieces. Me, I enjoy making my own designs, but I have to admit that I fall upon the previous Masters for construction techniques and style influences. So today’s blog is about an out-and-out, pure tee, genuine imitation copy of Graeme Priddle’s work.

Some of you know I was lucky enough to host Graeme for a couple of days in the spring, and I was especially fortunate enough to have him for a day in my shop.

Graeme at my lathe






One of things he taught me, was how to make his basic boat form. So we made the basic form, but when it came time to the carving work, I did not have the right tools for the job, so he explained what needed to be done, and I could work on it later. Well, later has come and gone, and I recently completed the form I that I started with Graeme.

Graeme's Boat forms







I learned a lot from this little project. It packs a lot of technique and imagination into a small package. Here are main things that I learned:

  1. I now have an even greater appreciation of Graeme’s  technique, patience, and creativity.
  2. I need a better power carving tool.
  3. Purple heart is not an easy wood to carve
  4. Burning patterns in the wood needs to be very carefully thought out
  5. Geez maries it was fun to make!
  6. I won’t even attempt to explain how to make this. I’ll leave that Graeme.

I have some ideas about how I can use this form to make other things, but first I need some advice. I know that walnut and mahogany are good carving woods, but can someone suggest to me other woods that are good for carving and turning, with a nice tight grain?

So here is my version of Graeme’s form. I call it Maori Mouse. It is made of purple heart and I used a BLO finish for just a very subtle sheen.

The form is six inches long, two inches high, and a little over two inches wide.

Be sure to check out Graeme Priddle’s web page at I literally just found out today that my blog post of Graeme’s visit to Baltimore is on the front page. How cool is that! Unfortunately, the link does not work :-(. Oh well, you can’t have it all.

Till next time!



About yaakov

Husband, Abba, Furniture Maker, Turner, Bookseller, and all around working stiff.
This entry was posted in In Yaakov's Workshop and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Copying the Masters

  1. Alviti says:

    Lime is the traditional wood for carving, taking detail well. Oak was used a lot in the past as well check out Peter Follansbee’s blog for lots on carving oak he’s got some great stuff in there.
    Great blog by the way.

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