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Opinions on this form, please?

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Short Story: I am looking for opinions on this (new to me, unusual) bowl form I ended up with on the lathe.

Long story: I am one of those that feels like the wood will decide what it wants to be. Sometimes I will grab a piece of what, for all intents and purposes, should be firewood. This piece was FOG birch (ended up in our yard after a flood, water logged and punky) crotch, I chainsawed it in half down the pit avoiding a huge crack and one side of it turned out into a nice box. This piece (with the big chunk cracked out of it already) I just left laying around thinking I'd toss it, but today I decided to just stick it between centers and see what happens. I was able to turn away enough to get a reasonable tenon, so I started doing what I sometimes do: I don't start with any form in mind, I just touch the gouge to the wood, and go by feel, following path of least resistance, just feeling where the gouge wanted to go in the wood, I ended up with that outside form with a slight cove on the side and then the gouge wanted to stop at what ended up being the rim, so I let it, and again just followed along with what it felt like the wood wanted to do, then reversed it and cut out the inside to a consistent thickness, stopping once I had the form what seemed to be "complete" - I could probably continue to just follow the shape and get it down to , oh, 5/16 or 3/8 thickness. However, I just felt kind of "wishy washy" about the form itself, It looked a little odd, unusual, to me, and I thought I'd toss it up here and see what y'all thought of it. I didn't do any sanding at all, (and of course that punky wood would never really clean up without stabilizing, I can actually carve it with a fingernail) and I can see I caught some of the flame of the crotch wood (too bad it's so punky I think it would come out quite pretty if I wanted to put the time into it) Also note: the missing chunk in the rim is where the wood had originally split away from the log, It didn't "just happen" - I turned it with it already there. - Likewise with the "knothole" chunk missing.

So, any thoughts on what to me is a somewhat unusual form (for a bowl)?
 

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Joined
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I really like the flare coming up out of the hollow and turning to the rim. The squared edges underneath don’t fit support that curve. It might work better if the rim was undercut to match the inside transition and the bottom curve underneath more to lift it off the table
 
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There comes a time when we are on our journey of woodturning that the wood be shaped by a thought or memory we have or learned. Then that thought or idea should be found in a piece of wood. I no longer pick up a piece of wood and wonder what it will be. Best to have an at least an inkling of what you are going to do with a chunk of wood. My thoughts.
 

hockenbery

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When I put wood on the lathe I have a mental picture of what I will make.
If turning reveals a defect or feature in the wood that makes my goal impractical - I then choose to either discard the blank or decide to make something else.

When We turn spheres the goal is well defined. If we turn a dozen spheres - the curves on our bowls and hollow forms become better and easier to achieve.

As to your form. Do you like it? That’s what is important. What do you like about it? What would you tweak or change?
 

brian horais

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Short Story: I am looking for opinions on this (new to me, unusual) bowl form I ended up with on the lathe.

Long story: I am one of those that feels like the wood will decide what it wants to be. Sometimes I will grab a piece of what, for all intents and purposes, should be firewood. This piece was FOG birch (ended up in our yard after a flood, water logged and punky) crotch, I chainsawed it in half down the pit avoiding a huge crack and one side of it turned out into a nice box. This piece (with the big chunk cracked out of it already) I just left laying around thinking I'd toss it, but today I decided to just stick it between centers and see what happens. I was able to turn away enough to get a reasonable tenon, so I started doing what I sometimes do: I don't start with any form in mind, I just touch the gouge to the wood, and go by feel, following path of least resistance, just feeling where the gouge wanted to go in the wood, I ended up with that outside form with a slight cove on the side and then the gouge wanted to stop at what ended up being the rim, so I let it, and again just followed along with what it felt like the wood wanted to do, then reversed it and cut out the inside to a consistent thickness, stopping once I had the form what seemed to be "complete" - I could probably continue to just follow the shape and get it down to , oh, 5/16 or 3/8 thickness. However, I just felt kind of "wishy washy" about the form itself, It looked a little odd, unusual, to me, and I thought I'd toss it up here and see what y'all thought of it. I didn't do any sanding at all, (and of course that punky wood would never really clean up without stabilizing, I can actually carve it with a fingernail) and I can see I caught some of the flame of the crotch wood (too bad it's so punky I think it would come out quite pretty if I wanted to put the time into it) Also note: the missing chunk in the rim is where the wood had originally split away from the log, It didn't "just happen" - I turned it with it already there. - Likewise with the "knothole" chunk missing.

So, any thoughts on what to me is a somewhat unusual form (for a bowl)?
I like how you are exploring a unique shape. When you explore, be ready to receive a lot of different opinions on your work because you are deviating from the norm. I agree with Hock's comment: 'Do you like it?' I might lean towards a thinner rim edge, but again that is just my opinion. Keep exploring!
 
Joined
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There comes a time when we are on our journey of woodturning that the wood be shaped by a thought or memory we have or learned. Then that thought or idea should be found in a piece of wood. I no longer pick up a piece of wood and wonder what it will be. Best to have an at least an inkling of what you are going to do with a chunk of wood. My thoughts.
I usually do - like I said, but sometimes I'll throw on a piece of "firewood" and let how it feels decide where it will be.. Hard to describe, but, I suppose with me being deaf, things are done by Feel and sight more than hearing (can't hear the wood or lathe , so I must depend on how things feel) So what I do is, I just kind of go slow with the only goal being to get somewhere to round-ish and then focus on my sense of touch - I ignore any form or shape and focus on how the gouge is transmitting to me the path of least resistance (I first found I could do that to tell me when to re-sharpen, so I continue to practice that sense of touch) So, in other words, the wood decides simply by where the grain wants to direct the gouge - if it feels like it cuts easier in one direction or curve or whatever, I guide the gouge that way. Most times I end up with a roundish blob of wood turned away to nothing , but every so often I end up with a form like this

@hockenbery , That's what I can't decide myself - whether I like it or not. I could flip it upside down and turn it super-thin to make a decorative hat for someone's teddy bear or whatever.. or I could refine the outside of the form at the lip to more match the flow and transition (as Brian Thompson said above) and the bottom curvature more rounded to match the inner bowl shape - But any of those (which I experimented with slightly) I'd have to direct the gouge to cut in where the wood didn't want it to go. That's why I put it up here, my "artistic" brain is in conflict with my practical brain - can't really decide what to make of it. :) and @ brian horais - Yeah I thought about making it thinner all around, but since I know it is going to the firewood pile, and the form itself is pretty much done, I didn't see much point in spending more time on it (besides, it was time to close up shop for the night) - But that's part of why I do these things that way - exploration (and practice of the "feel" is the best way I can put it, since there's no hearing involved)
 
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I always have some idea of what I’m trying to do with a particular chunk. I’ll make “exploratory” cuts to see if a defect does what I think, etc., and many times I end up with something totally different due to what the “exploration” revealed. The only time my gouge has a mind of its own is after I do something stupid and catch an edge - it could do anything then. Had more than a few items end up smaller/shorter etc after one of those “gouge thinking again” moments.
 
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I would call it interesting. Personally, I, for reasons unknown, prefer simple curves. I turn green to final thickness, maybe 5/16 wall thickness and let them dry and warp. That is my style. I also have a general 'idea' of what I want when I start processing a log, but some times, the wood says different. Never hurts to explore. The more you turn, the more ideas you will have.

robo hippy
 

hockenbery

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When I have an idea for a new form, I often do a couple of prototypes.

These I use to refine the shape, plan the holding methods, refine the size

This is sort of how I arrive at new shapes
I saw Soren Berger do a scoop by turning a ball on a handle then jamb chucking the ball to hollow it making the cup of the scoop.
I thought I could do a two handled a scoop

Then why not a hollow winged 4-5 “ ball 172AD101-0241-4D83-BC16-CB899A0E0A12.jpeg

Then I can lift the 6” ball 564BD3D9-51D4-4D51-AE35-0C754ACACA49.jpeg

Then these came along 7 and 8” diameter balls 1E62DCC1-080F-450C-91F5-874278CB6226.jpeg8B32970C-5B29-4619-85AE-399145449582.jpeg3FA2889D-E094-4942-A4B6-7B0A9A061FA9.png

Here is a Purple Heart bowl my wife did 85BD3FD4-A372-4567-8F5A-C423126630BC.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Randy Anderson

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I agree that if you like it then that's what counts. I start with a general idea of what I want and then adjust based on what I find inside. I find that putting something aside for a while and coming back can make a big difference in what I see as to what I would change. I have to push back against the desire to complete something in one session. Numerous times I've set something aside and then come back later in the day or a few days later and see something completely different or realize what was making me feel just OK with it vs liking it. Green wood that's moving can change this a bit but even then, wet it down, wrap in plastic and set it aside for a while. It's the big attraction to turning for me. My opinion on your piece is the top view looks very nice. The bottom view doesn't match/flow with the top re curves and shape but, like noses, everyone has an opinion but yours is the one that counts. My wife is my best critic on shape and form. Neighbors will usually just say "that's nice". My local turning mentor and friend is a really tough critic and will always tell me what needs be done differently. Don't always agree, but he will tell me directly. Very valuable.
 
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I like Hockenberry's thoughts, and Randy, I agree on the bottom/outside not matching.. I have another chunk of punky "firewood" from the same wood, I think I'll see if I can duplicate the "top view" and refine things to make a more pleasing shape.
I guess my way of thinking is, I am not especially artistic/creative at thinking up something and then turning it, but more often than not, I come up with unique pieces by just starting to make something with no pre-determined ideas of what it will be, and sort of let wood (maybe grain pattern or direction, maybe the way a branch looks sticking out, maybe some shape or form I notice in the trees when I look out a window) "talk" to me - Sort of like Odie and his "Zen" of turning, I focus more on what the tool/lathe/wood is "telling" me just by sense of touch.

Hard to understand unless you've actually developed that sense (much like a "nose" working for a perfume company or etc.) but I have spent the last 40-some years developing that sense (back when I worked on small engines, I actually had people think I was a miracle healer or something, when I'd put my hands on the running engine's covers and then tell them what was wrong with it, or with a quick adjustment have it running "better than when it was new" - I was able to pretty accurately tell what speed the engine was running within a couple hundred RPM just by the feel of it..) , so I guess it makes more sense to me than to most of the rest of you.

Thanks to everyone for the commentary, I think I am just becoming more aware of concepts that to some are plain as day, but to me are more abstract... perhaps I'm learning to "see" forms better and then refine them to something that might be more pleasing to the eye.
 
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I prefer light pieces, both literally and visually. Just like my furniture work, I don't like large thick slabs. When there is a chunk missing, I like it to look like that's the way it came off the tree. If no bark comes with it, I burn or embellish burn what would have been bark. So I'd prefer some finesse in the piece, but it's for you and it's your call.
 

Dave Landers

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That's what I can't decide myself - whether I like it or not.
So put it somewhere that you'll see it. Not somewhere you'd stare at it, but somewhere you might catch sight of it as you pass by. I put such undecided pieces on the rail at the top of the stairs, or a ledge next to the fireplace (convenient when I decide "nope"). Catching a view "accidentally" sometimes lets you identify individual features you like or not.
Another approach is to make another, similar form (or a few). Vary something each time. Then compare them side by side, you'll be able to see that you like the rim of #1 better, and the curve of #2, etc.
 
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I encourage beginning woodturners, once they've become comfortable with how to hold the tool and keep the bevel in contact with the wood, to experiment with form. Unless you have a background in art, or have thrown clay on a wheel, recognizing good form, and how to create a good form on the lathe is another skill that must be learned. We learn by doing, making mistakes and trying again. If you are persistent, and are open to understanding what makes good form and why, then you'll get there eventually.
 

Bill Boehme

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I always begin with a very specific plan and usually don't care for letting the wood dictate the end result. I feel like the wood doesn't know what it wants to be until I tell it what it wants to be. If I decide to feature something interesting I feel like it needs to be a part of the message that the piece is conveying and not something that just happens to be there, but not contributing to the message. Otherwise it is a distraction. Regarding the overall form, I know that you are just exploring so this thought might not be relevant, but I don't think that the curves and straight lines go together very well.
 
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I encourage beginning woodturners, once they've become comfortable with how to hold the tool and keep the bevel in contact with the wood, to experiment with form. Unless you have a background in art, or have thrown clay on a wheel, recognizing good form, and how to create a good form on the lathe is another skill that must be learned. We learn by doing, making mistakes and trying again. If you are persistent, and are open to understanding what makes good form and why, then you'll get there eventually.
Donna - I was taught that studying classic pottery of Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc - would help me develop a sense of shape, curve and ratio. As well I have friends that are professional potters and I like to discuss form with them. The medium may be different - but that which most find attractive or appealing has many commonalities.
 
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Donna - I was taught that studying classic pottery of Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc - would help me develop a sense of shape, curve and ratio. As well I have friends that are professional potters and I like to discuss form with them. The medium may be different - but that which most find attractive or appealing has many commonalities.
I spent 40 years working as an archaeological pottery specialist in the Near East (Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Crete), working with pottery dating from 5000-150 BC. I handled thousands of vessels, and hundreds of thousands of sherds (broken pots), and did perhaps 5000-10000 measured drawings of the material. Handling (and drawing) the good, the bad, and the ugly gave me a great deal of hands-on experience with form and proportions which has helped with both my turning and teaching of turning. It was often interesting to see local interpretations of foreign shapes and finishes -- the Phrygians in central Turkey used and copied a lot of of Classical and Hellenistic Greek pottery. Not unexpected to see lots of Greek pottery since I worked for 20+ years at Gordion, where Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot, on his way to conquering much of the Near East. Some of the copies were spectacular, others were downright awful.
 

Emiliano Achaval

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Short Story: I am looking for opinions on this (new to me, unusual) bowl form I ended up with on the lathe.

Long story: I am one of those that feels like the wood will decide what it wants to be. Sometimes I will grab a piece of what, for all intents and purposes, should be firewood. This piece was FOG birch (ended up in our yard after a flood, water logged and punky) crotch, I chainsawed it in half down the pit avoiding a huge crack and one side of it turned out into a nice box. This piece (with the big chunk cracked out of it already) I just left laying around thinking I'd toss it, but today I decided to just stick it between centers and see what happens. I was able to turn away enough to get a reasonable tenon, so I started doing what I sometimes do: I don't start with any form in mind, I just touch the gouge to the wood, and go by feel, following path of least resistance, just feeling where the gouge wanted to go in the wood, I ended up with that outside form with a slight cove on the side and then the gouge wanted to stop at what ended up being the rim, so I let it, and again just followed along with what it felt like the wood wanted to do, then reversed it and cut out the inside to a consistent thickness, stopping once I had the form what seemed to be "complete" - I could probably continue to just follow the shape and get it down to , oh, 5/16 or 3/8 thickness. However, I just felt kind of "wishy washy" about the form itself, It looked a little odd, unusual, to me, and I thought I'd toss it up here and see what y'all thought of it. I didn't do any sanding at all, (and of course that punky wood would never really clean up without stabilizing, I can actually carve it with a fingernail) and I can see I caught some of the flame of the crotch wood (too bad it's so punky I think it would come out quite pretty if I wanted to put the time into it) Also note: the missing chunk in the rim is where the wood had originally split away from the log, It didn't "just happen" - I turned it with it already there. - Likewise with the "knothole" chunk missing.

So, any thoughts on what to me is a somewhat unusual form (for a bowl)?
I personally do not care for straight lines and large flat bottoms. A round bottom would look, in my opinion, much better.
 
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Donna - I was taught that studying classic pottery of Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc - would help me develop a sense of shape, curve and ratio. As well I have friends that are professional potters and I like to discuss form with them. The medium may be different - but that which most find attractive or appealing has many commonalities.
The studying helps you understand what to look for (the eye, so to speak) and the vocabulary to describe it to yourself and others. I agree with Donna that you also want to explore the different forms through taking risks by doing new things. There obviously isn't one right way to approach it. However, perhaps the kernel of truth from this dscussion is to do something and then reflect on what you did, asking for feedback and seeing what you can repeat or avoid in the future. Sounds like this is the turner's "chicken or the egg" conundrum!
 

Randy Anderson

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Focusing on vases and hollow forms lately - they seem to be selling better. Did a search on the internet for vase shapes and picked about 6 pictures of shapes I like as my templates to shoot for. Some sort of model image helps me get there without removing material I wish I hadn't later on in the process. I've done the same for bowl shapes in the past. Lots and lots of images to give you ideas that are already well formed.
 
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