Elegant Forms
April 3, 2009
Entry Details

# 856
Bill Clark
Bakersfield, CA
Dimensions (inches):  
  Width:   4 1/4
  Height:   7
  Depth:   4 1/4
Materials:   End grain Big Leaf Maple, Bloodwood, 1/8" brass rod, Krylon Matt Finish, Minwax Wipe-On-Poly - Satin

For sometime now I’ve been intrigued by the calabash form.  Having seen many examples by other woodturners I decided to try my hand at turning one.  I’ve also been fascinated by work with an oriental theme and therefore decided to add that influence to my piece.  I spent a great deal of time preplanning the piece and made numerous sketches before I started turning.  Wanting to texture the entire surface of the calabash shaped vessel, I decided to use the branding technique.  I’ve been branding for sometime now using a unique brand I designed myself and using it as a feature ring on many of my pieces.  This time I branded the entire piece.  Because black draws the viewer’s attention to the lines of the form, I chose to finish the box in a matt black finish accentuating the calabash profile.  To offset the dark bottom I chose some striking red bloodwood for the lid, finishing it in a natural color.  The handle was designed to follow the form of the lid and enhance the oriental theme.  Brass pins were used to attach the handle.

Upon completion of the middle calabash box I was satisfied that I had achieved my objective and immediately began designing two additional pieces to complete the set.  I spent a great deal of time sketching out the next two pieces to get a feel for what I wanted and to be sure they were complementary to each other.  When they were turned, I spent a lot of time just looking at each form to be sure the shapes matched my sketches.  The lids sizes were designed to match the graduated size of each piece.  

The boxes are turned from big leaf maple, branded with my own pattern, dyed black and sprayed with a clear matt finish.   The lids are turned from bloodwood and finished with a wipe-on poly.  The oriental handles are made from maple, dyed, sprayed with a matt finish, rubbed out and attached with brass pins.  

The lids were first chucked to turn the bottoms.  Then they were reverse chucked to turn the tops.  Turning the tops to the 3/16” thickness was done from memory of the bottom concave shape.  Usually this is not a problem.  However, this time I had to drill holes for the brass pins that held the “oriental handles” deep enough for the epoxy to hold yet not drill though the underside of the lid.  This caused some anxious moments while drilling the holes for the pins at a 17 degree angle.  The “chubby” box is 4” tall with the lid and the tall box is 7” including the lid.   All are sanded and finished inside in the natural maple color.   The set is titled “In the Steppes of Central Asia” after a classical piece of  music by Alexander Borodin, a favorite of mine.

Judges Comments
CD : Size, shape, color, and texture all work together very well. The clear finished, polished wood interior is a nice surprise. A group of 3 is a strong statement. Heights of the 3 pieces are in good proportion to each other. I wonder what this group would look like with some diameter variation, as well.
DE : There is a measure of simplicity in each element of these forms that draws them into a unified statement. The handles are a good idea that I have seen many times in both wood and ceramic forms, yet I felt they complemented these box forms without competing with them. I felt the surface texture was well executed, yet might be developed further in future pieces. Well done.
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. This trio of pieces works very well together. I enjoy groupings and am partial to three's. How the handle on the lid emulates the shape of the piece is very elegant.

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