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Thread: Hollow forms form

  1. #1

    Hollow forms form

    Morning all,

    I was looking around the turning board this morning, and happened upon Vaughn's post on his first hollow form. He has turned a rather nice piece for a first form. I could suggest that the collar could use something, but just cant put my finger on just what it would be.

    I have learned by doing tons of reading and playing a bit on the lathe that when turning a hollow form you never want the major diameter of the piece to fall at the equator of the piece. It is most desireable to have it in either the upper third, or lower third of the piece. The foot of the piece is normally about 1/3rd of the diameter. (This is very subjective, there are many trains for thought on this.)

    A good tool to have at the lathe is something that probably no one has even thought about having. Nothing more than a simple fine chain like you would wear around your neck. If you grab each end of the chain and play with raising or lowering one end or the other, these are the shapes that we should strive for in our turnings. A chain simply cannot make a sharp point, or a bad transition from one element to the other.

    Y'all must understand, I am not trying to preach gospel, or say that what I do is the way you "HAVE" to do it. Its what works for me.

    A good exercise is to get some branch wood in the 3"-4" diameter. Practice making your forms with this wood. You dont even need to hollow it, just make forms. If you can nail the forms on small pieces, making larger pieces will come much easier for you.

    One of the better small form turners that I truly enjoy watching is Carol Valentine on the Wood Central site. Look over her work, and this can give you a good idea of what to strive for.

    Sorry to be so long winded. Lets try and kick this topic around some and see where it goes.

    Roger

  2. #2
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    There is an ancient formula for placing curves in the right location on vases, or whatevers, for the most pleasing effect. There is a name for this, I'll betcha someone else here knows about this.

  3. #3
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    A while back I took a class with David Marks. His explanatin on deriving forms was kinda interesting. He take a light chain (the little chains made with the teenie little metal balls) and holds it up. He will move his hands in and out and up and down to form different profiles. He said this is what nature gives us and these are the forms that are most appealing to the eye.

    I'm an Engineer so my descriptions my be a little unclear, but I hope that I was able to get the concept across.
    Jim

  4. #4
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    Welcome Roger!

    Good topic, and timely, I'm going to get my HF rig built soon, and I hope I can benifit from this discussion.

    The chain idea sure sounds like a good one, I'll see if I have any fine chain laying around?

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
    I believe you said...

    "I have learned by doing tons of reading and playing a bit on the lathe that when turning a hollow form you never want the major diameter of the piece to fall at the equator of the piece. It is most desireable to have it in either the upper third, or lower third of the piece. The foot of the piece is normally about 1/3rd of the diameter. (This is very subjective, there are many trains for thought on this.)"

    I tend to disagree the NEVER part of your statement. I have done some rather nice looking pieces with the major diameter in the center of the piece. Such comments such as NEVER and ALWAYS only goes to stiffle creativity. That kind of statement is the reason (check them out if you don't think I correct) that often times Turners demonstrate pieces with such similar characteristics. Many times as you look through an artist's web site (Not that they are not beautiful work) the piece at the top of the list looks similar to the last and the ones in between are only different by the species of wood or subtle changes. Sort of the "Rembrant in his Blue Period" style of painting, stuck in one mode and limited by such statements as Never and Always. I too, am often "Stuck" on one design, but when I am in such a mood, it is because of statements like "I prefer" or I like" or "I don't like"

    A good string of opinions should develop from your comments and I am looking forward to reading others thoughts on the matter, So I just threw in a converse opinions (I have plenty of those) to help get the ball rolling. I will be reading with great interest to see what others think.
    Last edited by Bill Simpson; 02-24-2007 at 06:50 PM.

  6. #6
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    Welcome Roger, and good discussion topic. I've also read about the chain idea, and it makes sense to me. Bill brings up good point on absolute terms like "never" and "always", but Roger's suggestions are well-founded.

    I've noticed in woodturning, like many other art forms, there are some people who simply have an innate ability to produce nice things without having to think about it much, and others who can also produce great things, but only by thorough analysis and calculation. One of my co-workers is a turner, and he plots and schemes every shape and nuance. He gets so bogged down in the thought process, that he produces very little. (And IMHO, it's fairly predictable, almost boring stuff.) I, on the other hand, tend to just go whatever way the wind blows me, then at some point in the shaping process it comes to me and I can see what I want the final shape to look like. Sometimes it comes out great, sometimes it's just OK, and other times it's just not quite right. Often, I see changes I would like to have made, but after it's too late to make them, but to me the discovery is part of the learning process, and part of what makes the whole thing fun. I try not to over-analyze the process as I'm doing it, but instead let me eyes and my gut feelings steer the chisel.

    I also see some parallels to the over-analysis issue when playing 8-ball on my pool league. Some guys do their best when they sit and study a shot for a minute or two, double-checking the angle and other minute details. Other folks (me included), look at the table, decide on a shot, line it up quickly and take it. In my case, I find that it's easy for me to over-think a shot, and when I do, I usually miss it. OTOH, if I shoot the way my first gut reaction tells me to shoot, I usually make the ball and go on to the next shot. I think it's a matter of finding what works best for you, then improving on it however best suits your process.

    Same parallel is apparent in improvisational music. Some guys have to consciously think about what key the song is in, what scales to play within, and every other aspect of the "improvisation". Others (including me) just kind of let the music come out, and adjust as needed along the way. In my case, the music is better if I trust my instincts and don't try to think about it too hard.

    I also agree with Roger's suggestion for doing form practice on branch wood. I've done some of that, and will do some more.

    Good topic Roger, and I'll also be watching to see what others say.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  7. #7
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    I agree with Bill. My granddad told me when I was a kid starting into woodworking a loooonnnngggg time ago don't use words like "never and always". He said they will get you into trouble. He said in woodworking beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I happen to like hollow forms with the widest part at the middle of the piece. You can be really creative from there by adding a pedestal on the bottom, a lid with a final on it or any number of things. Again it is extremely subjective depending on who you ask. Go check out Cindy Drozda's site and look at her HF. I hope someday to make some pieces like hers. So let's here some more opinions. I like new idea's.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  8. #8
    [QUOTE=Bill Simpson;25602]I believe you said...

    "I have learned by doing tons of reading and playing a bit on the lathe that when turning a hollow form you never want the major diameter of the piece to fall at the equator of the piece. It is most desireable to have it in either the upper third, or lower third of the piece. The foot of the piece is normally about 1/3rd of the diameter. (This is very subjective, there are many trains for thought on this.)"

    I tend to disagree the NEVER part of your statement. I have done some rather nice looking pieces with the major diameter in the center of the piece. Such comments such as NEVER and ALWAYS only goes to stiffle creativity. That kind of statement is the reason (check them out if you don't think I correct) that often times Turners demonstrate pieces with such similar characteristics. Many times as you look through an artist's web site (Not that they are not beautiful work) the piece at the top of the list looks similar to the last and the ones in between are only different by the species of wood or subtle changes. Sort of the "Rembrant in his Blue Period" style of painting, stuck in one mode and limited by such statements as Never and Always. I too, am often "Stuck" on one design, but when I am in such a mood, it is because of statements like "I prefer" or I like" or "I don't like"

    <Snip>

    Hi all,

    Ok, I concede. Maybe "never" was not the correct choice of words, but if you look at the following line that I typed, "It is most desireable to have it in the upper or lower third" I kind of qualify my previous statement. Some pieces look absolutely marvelous with a centered diameter. Others look rather unappealing to my eye. And maybe the word "most" in the above sentence should actually be "more".

    We as turners have to remember, that all of what we do is Art. It is also very subjective to each and every one of us. My oldest son is a professional artist. College degree and the whole nine yards. 95% of the work that he does I do not like and or care for. And of course, as the creator, he thinks its the best thing since sliced bread!

    Lets keep this going, I love talking about this subject.

    Roger

  9. #9
    Although I think Turners are artists in all their productions, there is a difference in "I'm going to make a..." and "Lets see, what have got here..."

    Was at the Louisville Slugger Museum a couple of years ago and watched a turner produce a "perfect" bat. Artistry in motion, even though it looked just like the last one he did.

    I have also chucked up a chunk of wood and started to turn it round and as the grain appeared, I started see a shape that pleased me. Vaughn mentions letting the piece go and not being too persnickaty about over thinking the details. Without the details, tables have unique legs on each corner. There is a difference, and IMHO one must be able to replicate those four matching legs to call himself a turner, for, by being able to replicate the process, it is obvious that what you did is what you wanted to do and not just a fluke of a sequence of time and events. I am a lot like Vaughn's friend who analizes each step in my mind before I approach the piece. I figure in advance, how and where. Then do the process, as a result I have what I wanted to do. Then, if satisfied, I can make one after another in much the same way w/o even thinking of the process. Look at Segmented turners and tell me that they don't dwell over a piece and exact detail on how to procede and the design is full of forethought.

    This is why I have never been too keen on Pen turning (not that I don't appreciate each and every one of the pens I see posted on forums, and would love to have said "I did that" with each and evey one). But After I turned a couple, where is the thought process other than search for the unique and perfect material to make another. I understand the process and the subtile differences in each one and don't want to down grade any Pen turner in my statements. But there is just so much you can do given the limitations of the confinds of the craft.

    Bowl, box, and containers is my pleasure, there are so many realms of direction you can go.

  10. #10
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    Bill, I believe what you're talking about in your original post is something to do with the "Golden Mean" or "Rule of Thirds". And although I don't begin to understand Da Vinci's mathematical genious I think it's pretty safe to say that if you stick to the basics of the golden mean you'll have a pretty nice looking hollow form. But I also believe that you can get stuck in a rut by trying to ensure that each time you turn something you've followed all the rules. It's true that you should be able to duplicate your work as in your example of turning matching table legs. But the table that will really catch everyone's eye will be the one that has four (or 5 or 3 or whatever) legs, all distinctly different from each other. That's when it becomes art, in my opinion. If we try too hard to make our work look as good as someone's work who we happen to admire, well then that's what it will look like, someone else's work. But if we mount up a piece of wood and try to block out every thing about how we think it should look and just turn it until the wood begins to speak for itself and the shape or form begins to look good in our eyes then we begin to create our own unique style.

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