15th December 2018 The Journey Last weekend saw me - and many others - in Swindon's Old Town being part of The Journey. The Journey, as described on photographer Elmar Rubio's website, was 'an immense, immersive theatrical telling of the Christmas story'. It entailed...
T K Turns - wood turningMade in Wiltshire
This post is the first in a series I’m going to run on this blog about Wiltshire craftspeople. Some of them will be hobbyists – others will be professionals earning a living from what they produce. But all of them will be people offering gorgeous things.
I don’t want to use the word ‘artisan’ – it’s overused and, as often as not, it’s incorrectly used. I get that the word ‘craft’ connotes knitting/crochet and felting – not that there’s nothing with that I hasten to add! – So I’ve gone with calling the section ‘Made in Wiltshire’. This is largely a Swindon-centred blog but I’ve called it ‘Made in Wiltshire’ to allow for stretching a little beyond the boundaries of our beloved Swindon Borough Council.
If you’d like your creations featured here get in touch to discuss terms – they’re modest and vary – depending on whether you’re a pro or a talented hobbyist.
Getting the first turn – appropriately enough – is hobbyist Toby Kinton who is TK Turns. Below he writes in his own words how he got in to wood turning. It’s a nice story actually.
I love the bowl with the resin inlay -I think that’s beautiful. I rather like the wine goblets too. #obvs
T K Turns – wood turning
I started wood turning by accident. I had been to a medieval re-enactment and couldn’t understand why hand turned bowls were so expensive compared to the mass produced, machine made items that you can pick up in any supermarket.
One Saturday, when I had nothing else to do, I searched YouTube for ‘how to’ videos to try to work it out. Eight hours later, I was still sitting there, watching artists from around the world make bowls and goblets magically appear from gnarly lumps of timber. There is something hypnotic about the process – in the same way that one can get lost in the shape of a log fire, watching a form develop under the tools. I was hooked! But unfortunately our 2 up/2 down in the centre of Swindon just didn’t have anywhere that I could put a lathe without serious detriment to my marriage. I was doomed to be a spectator. Or so I thought …
Around 18 months later, we had outgrown our little house and were on the hunt for a new property, my wife looking for a nice area, good access, well planned layout and all of the sensible attributes of a house, but all I was interested in was a garden big enough for a shed or even better, a garage!
The move came about and I finally had my man cave. As is the nature of home moves, this hallowed space quickly became where stuff was put ‘until we could find a home for it’ and was essentially a dumping ground for clutter. This wasn’t how I had planned my dream workshop.
On a Friday in April 2016, I got fed up with the situation and made myself a deal. If I could make enough space in the garage by 3 o’clock, I would order a lathe. By 1 o’clock the garage was clear and I was online, ordering lathe and tools. The following morning at 7.45 my very surprised wife answered the door to a delivery driver and had to kick me out of bed to help unload a 100kg pallet into the garage.
Around four hours later, after a lot of swearing, head scratching and coffee breaks, the lathe was assembled, the tools were to hand and I was ready to start. Of course, the one thing I had forgotten was wood. After a frantic search of the house and garden, I found the ‘Sold’ sign from the house, lurking in a corner of the garage. I sawed it up into sections and started trying all of the techniques that I had leaned from YouTube. My first attempts were not successful, with my garden dibbers being likened to marital aids! Ann Summers eat your heat out. But I keep at it and slowly I worked out how the tools reacted to the grain of the wood, how to select the right speed on the lathe to get a clean cut and how to move my body rather than my hands to maintain a consistent finish.
Two and a half years on, it is still a hobby but my skills have developed, with my main output being bowls. I have found a specialist woodturning shop in Didcot, The Toolpost, where I buy most of my wood. Although it can be found cheaper online, in a real shop you can hold and feel the wood before you buy it and Peter and his team are always there for feedback, advice and occasional banter.
Most of my work is commissions from family and friends, bowls with custom pyrography or pens from a ‘special’ piece of wood. But I nurture hopes of saying goodbye to the rat race and becoming a full-time turner. I know that I will never make my fortune from wood, but the joy I get from turning more than makes up for that.
Here’s a few images of my work:
Further selections of my work are available to view on my website TK-Turns.co.uk and my Instagram feed (TKTurns) I use for work in progress pictures. If you want to know more you can contact me via me web form here.
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