How an idea takes shape

This is a rare day. Two posts in one day. I’m in the mood to write, so I’ll talk about the latest work I just completed a couple of hours ago.

I really let my imagination run with this piece, and something down inside tells me I should explore this form more. Here’s the back story. I have a number of osage orange logs, and I had an odd shaped piece that I really did not want to waste. It was not suited for a bowl, but I could make it into a hollow form, but I was not in the mood to make a standard tall vase. Inspired by recent readings and photos, I borrowed ideas from three different artists and put them together.

The initial shape was inspired by the work of Marc Ricourt. His forms are very different, so I decided to make the piece as a rectangular form with textured edges. I could have made it like a rectangular open vessel, but I really wanted to push the envelope, so I set the piece up on a glue block and used my boring bar to hollow it out. This gave me the basic shape. I left the very top of piece rough and out of square, because I thought it would give the form a more primitive, hand made shape. The V-grooves on the side were made with a spindle gouge, but I wanted them to be uneven and have a hand-made look.

My next idea came from David Ellsworth. His Solstice Series gave me the idea for piercing the sides. The holes start out large in the center and flair out, and progressively get smaller. I had a set of forsner bits that made this easy work on the drill press. But what next? I had already spend a lot of time and thought into this piece, but it just needed more.

Then the work of Graeme Priddle came to mind during a walk to shul. The piece was already taking on a south Pacific look to me, so I decided to texture the piece with the spiral pyrography. Then I used black acrylic paint to really define the burning. In my mind I could picture mask or facial tattoos, and that was the final idea I need to complete the work.

The piece is meant to be viewed with the corner facing you, so you see the mask, and  you get different look from each corner. I top coated the piece with a natural Danish Oil to give the wood a natural golden tone with a satin sheen.

I spent a lot of hours working on this piece that I doubt will ever sell (unless someone has a Polynesian themed home), but I feel like this piece was a real breakthrough creatively.  In a long conversation with Graeme Priddle, he told me that he borrowed other ideas and put them together in news ways, and that is what I have done with this piece that I call “Tiki #1”

So ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tiki #1:





The piece stands 8″ tall and the sides are 4″ wide. My gut tells me to explore this form more. Your thoughts? Explore more or move along?

About yaakov

Husband, Abba, Furniture Maker, Turner, Bookseller, and all around working stiff.
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11 Responses to How an idea takes shape

  1. Bob says:

    It sure is different from anything i have ever saw, it is good to explore some times.

  2. Ellis Hein says:

    I like the piece. I have always loved working with osage orange. Keep them coming.

  3. Andy Coates says:

    This is a great piece, Yaakov. Well thought out too. I suppose the spindle gouge cuts remove the weight from the corners that couldn’t be hollowed from the interior? Overall a win and a worthy form for further exploration. It’s good to see you developing ideas.

    • Brad Vietje says:


      If the corners were hollowed between the deep V-cuts from the inside, most of the flat sides would be lost, and a very light, airy lattice would be left, connected at the top and bottom…. could be fun, but the same effect could be had by inside-out turning of 4 pieces, which would probably be easier to turn without shattering (though there would be glue lines where the 4 pieces were joined).

      All these ideas are great for inspiration, and could lead to a whole lot of fun exploration.

      Safe spinning,

      Brad Vietje
      Newbury, VT

  4. Torch02 says:

    I vote for “Explore more” considering you got my brain jumping in 20 directions thinking about how you could move from this base – and I don’t even turn (yet)!

  5. Pingback: Turning Square | Wood Turned Art

  6. Ellis Hein says:

    As a result of your piece, Tiki 1, I have now devised “Con” Tiki. You can see my rendition of your idea at Turning Square: If you care to give an evaluation, I would love to hear it.

  7. Brad Vietje says:

    Cool stuff, Yaakov. I turn a lot of hollow forms, and I’m always thinking of ways to explore the space inside there… I’m always peeking in the holes and wondering what’s inside that little wooden universe. A hole for a finger or a peek seems to suggest a mystery and invite exploration, and I think adds a lot of interest to a piece.

    Already your design — inspired by the work of others — has inspire Ellis and me and a number of other folks to try new twists and discover new forms. I’ve drawn a few ideas in a sketchbook from your piece and Ellis’ post, but haven’t turned anything as a result just yet. Thanks for paying it forward.

    Safe spinning,

    Brad Vietje
    Newbury, VT

  8. Pingback: Square Poker | Wood Turned Art

  9. Pingback: Talking Turning and World Observation | Wood Turned Art

  10. Pingback: Turning aside | Artisan's Call

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