Enjoy the journey, not just the destination

It’s an often (over) used quote in various forms across the internet but this morning in a Facebook conversation it actually seemed apt to use it.

A friend of mine had posted a picture of a hand carved avocado that judging by google is all over the internet, so I’m not too worried about reposting it here. (If it’s your image, please ping me a msg and I’ll happily credit it to you.). It’s an amazing bit of food art that took an hour to make.

Carved avocado

One of the comments on the photo was “One lost hour..” which is what triggered my response and also got me to thinking about the work I did in the workshop yesterday, playing with and developing an idea that takes the Rennie Rose you’ve seen in it’s previous form to an image that was influenced by some pictures of Glasgow Style stained glass panels.

I had worked recently on the computer to create a vector based image of the panel that I had chosen to try and re-create, and on the computer the image worked quite well. What I didn’t account for is my lack of practice with the scalpel when it comes to cutting these Friskets out! (Sharp blades are the key!)Rennie Rose PaneThere’s a lot of long sweeping curves on this image and if you don’t keep the knife moving smoothly it becomes very visible once you’ve painted the object and removed the mask. Likewise on the straight sections, the use of a straight edge is important.

Rennie Panel Bowl

Whilst I wasn’t happy with the finished image on the bowl, I decided to remove the bowl form anyway so that I could see how the image developed. This gave me a chance to play with proportions and to practice some of the more delicate cuts that are needed when working on an already decorated piece.

With the usual size bowl removed, the piece did not feel right and the bowl needed to be widened. It was at this point I had what the artist Bob Ross used to call “a happy little accident” that resulted in quite a major change to the bowl size. Taking this design opportunity for what it was, I decided to create a deeper bowl with a slight undercut to practice a cut that I’m not overly comfortable with.

This unfortunately upset the balance of the design completely and with a little prompting from the long suffering other half, decided to remove the design completely and turn a test/practice piece into a really nice looking Ash bowl.

Ash bowl

In the end, over the course of a few hours I was able to test and refine a number of skills, test a couple of new surface finish techniques that I wasn’t sure would work on airbrushed acrylic, challenge myself with some difficult cuts that I’m not comfortable with and in the end still create a pleasing bowl form that I would happily keep.

So whilst the destination changed slightly and I didn’t end up with the original intention, the journey itself was challenging and rewarding. There is no such thing as wasted time when accidents happen, merely an opportunity to test, challenge and develop yourself further.


Starting a new venture…

If you’ve come to this page, chances are you know me from my real world job in IT. In real life, I’m a member of an exceptional community of people that live and breathe the same Microsoft products and travel around Europe evangelising at conferences about them. I’m also a consultant with a Microsoft gold partner and travel the UK helping clients with everything from new builds, improvements and sometimes troubleshooting to get them out of a sticky situation!

With such a focus on technical output, I needed something to take my mind off of the stresses of the job, something cheaper than engaging a full time therapist! So back in 2003 I decided to take up a hobby and as my family have a history of carpentry (Before Dad and I broke the tradition and did something different!) I decided it had to be something related to wood. I didn’t have the space for a full blown cabinet workshop so after seeing Norm Abhrams do it on the New Yankee workshop, I decided to give turning a go.

I bought a cheap lathe off of Ebay grabbed a few tools from a local shop (without any advice.. I mean how hard can it be..?..? I read a book…!), planked some wood I found onto the lathe and made it round.. (ish)..

I was hooked! Woodturning became my Hobby and I’m pleased to say that some 14 years later, I’m still doing it! (I swear my long suffering wife thought I was just going to give it up after a few months!).

During this time, my workshop was the garage with it’s rather rubbish asbestos roof, it leaked, my tools get damp, I couldn’t turn during the cold weather.. You get the picture?

For a lot of those 14 years I only turned for a few months of the year but what I did do, was join a local club and oh boy was that the best decision I could make! There’s a wealth of information to be had within a club, some of the old boys that belong have forgotten more about wood turning than I’ll ever know! My turning improved leaps and bounds over the years and I decided it was time to upgrade my workshop to a decent size building that was sealed to the elements and easy to heat. Even on the coldest days of winter, it doesn’t take long to bring the workshop up to a decent working temperature and this last winter has been one of my busiest in the last few years with more items being made in 8 months than the previous 2 years combined!


I’ve found my mojo again, my love of turning has bloomed! My aim of this blog is for me to share some of the techniques that I’ve learned, show off some of my pieces and to provide a place where members of my work community, can come and have a look at the non IT side of me.