Forced Improvisation

The next installment of the “Tiki Series” is complete, and this shape might be a keeper.  My inspiration for this piece once again came from the work of French artist Marc Ricourt. Now does my piece look anything at all like his work? Not really. But if you look at his work, you might see where I got some of my ideas.

This piece (entitled Tiki #3) presented a bit of a challenge for me. Therefore, I stood up the challenge and promptly failed, but at least I learned something.  I used my last piece of “green” Osage Orange and  shaped the scrap into a rectangle using a band saw, then smoothed it out with a jack plane.

Next, I laid out the curved bottom (while keeping the four flat sides) using a flexible ruler, then cut the shape out on the band saw.  This is where I made the mistake. Once I shaped the bottom, I knew that I blew it. What’s the problem? I still needed to hollow out the piece to make it look like a square vase, but how would I hold the piece to the lathe? The foot was too small for a glue block, and it was such an odd shape, a jawed chuck would not work. Hummmm, what to do, what to do?

Houston, we have a problem

I screwed up on my last piece of Osage Orange, so what do you? As they sang in the song, “When you can’t get it all together, improvise.” Words I have never forgotten and always try to apply towards my art. (Extra credit goes to anyone who remembers this song and what TV show it came from). I mounted up the piece between the drive spurs and went ahead and textured the corners using a big spindle gouge.

Texture work done

Solution! I put the bottom of the vase on the drive spur and put a jacob’s chuck with a big forstner bit in the tail stock. The pressure of the forstner bit kept piece on the lathe. Next problem, the mouth of the vessel was not wide enough.  To solve this problem, I would drive the forstner bit in about an inch, then moved the tool rest into position. Now I could use a parting tool widen the opening. Was this somewhat dicey and perhaps dangerous? Perhaps, but it worked to fairly well. The only problem was I could not drill down as far as I would have liked to. Oh well, you can’t have it all.

I did consider making a tight fitting box around the piece which could be attached to a glue block and mounted up on the lathe so I could use my boring bar to hollow out the vessel, but I was lazy and decided to use a carving tool to finish up the inside. Next time, I will leave a big foot that can be parted off for the base so I can use my boring bar to hollow it out.

After I was done, I sanded it out and I was really pleased. Just looking at it, I knew this piece would not need the over the top decorating. Something simple was the order for the day. I thought about piercing it, but with the uneven wall thickness, I decided to drill shallow holes down each side. Each hole was progressively smaller from top to bottom.

For the final decoration, I painted the inside of the drilled holes and the inside of the vessel with a black acrylic paint. Finally, I applied a couple of coats of Danish Oil to help bring out the grain. The final dimensions of the piece are 7.75” x 2.75”.

Tiki #3

I really like this piece, it is unique without being “over the top”.  I would like to make this again in a couple of different sizes. Now the challenge will be to remake it to major league perfection.


About yaakov

Husband, Abba, Furniture Maker, Turner, Bookseller, and all around working stiff.
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2 Responses to Forced Improvisation

  1. Bob says:

    Looks like you did a good job.

  2. Ellis Hein says:

    I will have to pass on the extra credit. We haven’t had a television since 1987, and didn’t watch much before then. However, I agree with the sentiment about improvisation.

    I am afraid I have fallen behind here in keeping pace with you. I have had some more ideas, but they will have to wait until I can clear some time to try them. Then if they work I will post about them. Maybe if they fail spectacularly enough, I will post that as well.

    Anyway, don’t wait for me. Keep working on these. I like them.

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