Elegant Forms
April 3, 2009
Entry Details

# 852
Janice Levi
Groesbeck, TX
Dimensions (inches):  
  Width:   7
  Height:   6.5
  Depth:   7
Materials:   Japanese Black Pine
African Ebony

Few people choose to work with pine as a turning medium because it presents a unique list of challenges.  There's the tear-out, the warping, the chipping and cracking, the resin that gums tools, not to mention the seemingly life-long commitment to bring the turned piece to artistic life.  At first glance, the piece might appear as any other--simply pleasing or unpleasing, depending on the style and the finish that the artist has chosen and her toolmanship.  But keep looking, for within the very essence of the pine are burning secrets.

As one looks more closely into the heart of the pine bowl, images begin to appear--knots, and black streaks brought on by the natural spalting process.  This piece is turned endgrain to accentuate the strongly-patterned growth rings of the pine.  Tools dull quickly while cutting this soft wood because of the resin.  Keeping mineral spirits handy for cleaning tools between grindings is important.  Although the wood is soft, one of the challenges is to turn the piece as thin as possible while avoiding cracking and chipping.  A liberal dowsing of sprayed water during every step of the turning process takes care of the cracking while CA glue applied to the bowl's edge remedies the chipping.  This piece has a wall thickness of approximately 1/16 inch.
At last, the burning secrets of the pine are beginning to show themselves.  The bowl is elevated to take advantage of the light that will reveal its final secrets.  This bowl is elevated by a thin African Ebony stem.  The bowl itself has been turned with a tenon that fits neatly into a recess in the ebony stem.  
The pine is beginning to show its translucence, a process that takes between 4 to 6 weeks to fully develop.  Daily, the bowl is dipped into a "Danish" oil home-brew of linseed oil, mineral spirits and polyurethane.  It's then allowed to dry, sanded, steel-wooled then dipped again and again.  
When the pine has finally absorbed as much oil as is possible, it is allowed to dry for 4-5 days then given a final sanding using mineral spirits.  A simple coat of soft wax and a buffing are all that are now needed to bring the piece to fruition.  But there is one more thing that calls the piece to life...the light!
Held just so against the light, the true glory of the pine is revealed.  A single ray ignites the piece and it bursts into flame, The Flame Within that will not be extinguished.

Judges Comments
CD : Very well done ogee shape! That is a difficult shape to do well. I would suggest that the base be slightly thicker to balance the visual weight of the ogee bowl.
DE : I enjoy working with mine myself; a highly underrated material in woodturning. I felt, however, that the form could have been simplified somewhat in order to accommodate the natural distortions in the material. This would also have related more fluidly to the lines of the base.
TB : Congratulations on entering this competition. Just the process of creating a piece for a themed exhibition helps you push your creativity and your work to the next level. The dark spots in the wood work well with the wood you chose for the base. You might experiment with the length of the base - possibly shorter.

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