Category Archives: My Work

Agar Class at Arrowmont

Photo: group_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I recently took a WOW Factor master class with Nick Agar at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. June 9-16, 2019. Here are some photos of the work I created in the class.

I had a great time at the class. Nick is a great instructor. I loved the environment at Arrowmont. The food was excellent. The turning studio is top notch.

Nick is well known for his Viking Sunset Bowls. This class was something different. It was all about creating turned wall pieces and sculptures from cut up turned forms. I also made some plates on my own to play with some of Nick’s decorating techniques.

I teach woodturning. But, I believe you should never stop learning. It’s time to roll over and die when you stop learning. Thus, I still take classes.

Here is the class description from the Arrowmont catalog.
NICK AGAR, WOW FACTOR, June 9-15 2019, One Week, Course Fee: $800

During this master workshop students explore the potential of the wooden surface and what it offers makers. You will discover form and proportion and will create wall pieces, cut up-reconstructed sculptures, and turned and sculpted solid forms. Participants will utilize power carving, pyrography, airbrushing, and ceramic and metal effects using the instructors signature series paints (all made in the U.S.) and other paints to enhance their work to give it the WOW factor. Open to all skill levels, however basic skills at the lathe are needed.

Nick Agar has over 25 years of experience as a woodturner. He is a registered professional turner, co-author of the book Woodturning Evolution and an elected member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. Specializing in surface enhancement and renowned for his wall sculptures, his award-winning work often incorporates carving, airbrushing, ceramic and metal effects. Agar has inspired many woodturners with his work and has traveled across the world to demonstrate his skills. TURNINGINTOART.COM
This was the first time Nick taught this class in the US. He plans on teaching it again in the US. Nick just moved (immigrated) to Georgia USA (4/2019). His new studio is across the street from Chroma Craft’s US location.
Photo: walls_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I created 2 wall pieces in the class. I really enjoyed making these. I am definitely going to be making more of these in the future.
Photo: awall1_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here is the 1st wall piece I created in Nick’s class. The wood is really nice curly maple. 12″ square by 2″ thick.

The idea here was to turn and decorate square pieces and then cut them up. Nick suggested cutting them up in 1″ wide strips or into quarters. Then we could rearrange or skew the pieces.

After I turned the square piece, I decided to decorate it with airbrush stuff I learned from Nick. I love the way it came out!

I decided it was too nice to cut into strips. Thus, I cut it into quarters. The original piece is on the left in above photo. One of 16 possible arrangements is on the right.

I colored the piece with Chroma Craft Wood Dyes applied with an airbrush. I used some airbrush stencils from Nick, Amazon and Binh Pho.

Note: 4 pieces * 4 sides = 16 possible arrangements.
Photo: awall2_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here are two alternate arrangements of the 1st wall piece.

The piece is not done yet. I plan on mounting this piece on a black steel background that is roughly 3″ larger than the piece. I will install magnets on the back of each piece. This will allow people to rearrange the pieces to create their own image.

It looks better with a 1/4″ of space between the pieces. I just stacked them up for the photos. So, no space was possible. I am going to add spacers to the finial piece.

Note: Using magnets to mount sculptures on plinths (suspended in space) was one of the ideas Nick discussed in class. I decided to expand that idea to mount my wall pieces.
Photo: cwall1_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here is the 2nd wall piece I created in Nick’s class. The wood is Maple. 10-1/2″ square by 1-1/4″ thick.

Nick suggested that we could remount and turn each quarter individually after cutting the main piece into 4 parts. I wanted to try out that idea. I also wanted to try a piece with out a lot of fancy airbrushing. Just let the beauty of the wood shine thru.

I was finishing this piece on the last day of class and got in to much of a hurry. I accidentally powered sanded the orange center on one of the 4 pieces. Then I had to try to cover it up by sanding all 4 of them. It didn’t really work out.

I colored the piece with Chroma Craft Wood Dyes applied with an airbrush. The Chroma Craft dyes are fast drying and DO NOT penetrate into the wood. Thus, I got way with, just sanding any dye over spray off the top surface to expose nice clean wood. I masked the junctions in circles with masking tape. That was a pain.
Photo: cwall2_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here are two alternate arrangements of the 2nd wall piece
Photo: slices_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg We started the class by creating sculptures from cut up turned forms. We turned a 9″ round bottomed cereal bowl shape on the outside with a small 2″ shallow bowl on the inside. Then we cut the bowl into slices and experimented with carving, wood burning, coloring and finishing techniques.

The photos show my 2 creations. The above photo on the left is the front view. The photo on right is the back view. I am really happy with the way the pieces turned out.

I cut my bowl into 3 slices. I never got around to using the center slice that contains the small 2″ bowl on the inside. It is NOT shown in the photos.

The green piece in photos is ash wood with power carved and burned textures. It was painted with copper and bronze reactive metallic paint. Some areas were painted with copper, others with bronze. Then it was aged with green patina aging solution.

The red, orange, and yellow piece is ash wood with power carved and burned textures. It was painted with red, orange and yellow Chroma Craft Wood Dyes. Then the back and some areas on the front were highlighted with Chroma Craft Viking Silver Chroma-Gilt.

Nick wanted us to mount our sculptures on a plinth with magnets. The magnets allow the pieces to be moved around and re positioned to create new configurations. I really liked the idea. But, the wimpy magnets I brought with me were not up to the task. My slices of ash were to heavy to be held up at the angle I wanted. I had to use dowels rather than magnets.
Photo: bplates_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I made some 9″ hard maple plates. They were canvases on which I could try some of the techniques demonstrated by Nick in the class.

The plate on the left in the photo is Chroma Craft Wood Dyes applied with an airbrush. I used some airbrush stencils from Amazon and Binh Pho.

The plate on the right is Chroma Craft Black Web-Fx special effect paint, over Golden brand Iridescent Bright Gold acrylic paint, over Chroma Craft Blood Red Wood Dye.

You can see in the photo that some paint escaped under the masking tape that I used to mask things off. In the future I need to do a better job of masking.
Photo: gplate_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I also made a viking style plate. I wanted to try Nick’s idea of mixing different colors of Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt on the same piece. Some areas are say copper while others are bronze.

I turned a 9″ hard maple plate and decorated it (cut groves in it) with my small and large Sorby Spiraling and Texturing tools.

In the above photos the front of the plate is on the left. The back is on the right. The back is darker than the front in real life. By design.

I kind of forget what I did here. I am not sure about the colors. Here is my best guess. The front is Saxon Gold and Antique Brass Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt, over Green Verdigris Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt, rubbed into the groves with a tooth brush, over Chroma Craft Black Wood Dye.

The back is Celtic Copper and Nordic Bronze Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt, over Chroma Craft Black Wood Dye.
Photo: wrbowls_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg On the last day of class I made a platter (wide rim bowl). I liked a platter with a white and blue rim done by another student. I wanted to try something similar.

I took the piece home to finish at home when I did not have time to finish it in class. I got inspired and made another piece with a red background at home.

The platter in left photo is Blue and Black Chroma Craft Web-Fx special effect paint, over Rustolem flat white spray paint. With Golden brand blue and black acrylic paint, airbrushed on shading. The ugly brown marks in the bowl, showed up when I turned the bowl. They are in the wood. I was not happy.

The platter in right photo is Black Chroma Craft Web-Fx special effect paint, over Blood Red Chroma Craft Wood Dye . With Golden brand black acrylic paint, airbrushed on shading.

The black rim on both platters is black acrylic paint, applied with an airbrush.

Both platters are 9″ diameter, hard maple wood. The bottom of both platters is a roman ogee shape, natural wood color.

5 Day Class at Peters Valley July 12-16, 2019

I am going to be teaching my 5 Day Woodturning Workshop class at the Peters Valley School of Craft in Layton NJ (in the Delware Water Gap National Recreation Area) on July 12-16, 2019. Their name for it is “An Exploration of Woodturning”.

Click here for more info or to sign up on the Peters Valley web site.

There is also more info in the Student Material List. Lots of info, not just a materials list. Click here for additional info.

P.S. My Pennsylvania Dutch Cake Stand was just selected as the “AAW Turning of the Week” on 3/6/2019.

There are no fixed projects in the above class. Students are free to do there own thing. Pick there own projects. Thus students can make a cake stand in the above class if they want. With or without the decoration. Or we can do similar decoration on a plate, bowl, etc.

Click on the photo below for more photos of my recent work.

Cactus Plate Bowl

Ric Rac Orchid Cactus Plate Bowl Photo: Ric Rac Orchid Cactus Plate Bowl

Last month, I found these old photos that I never got around to writing up. They are still relevant. Thus, here is my Ric Rac Cactus Plate Bowl.

I created this plate bowl back in 2013. Not long after taking a class with Al Stirt at The Center for Furniture Craftsmenship in Maine.

I used Al's pattern layout, and sgraffito process.

My inspiration for the pattern was my Ric Rac Orchid Cactus. See photo above.

Note: I call a plate with a small blow in the center a "Plate Bowl". Sgraffito definition "decoration by cutting away parts of a surface layer (as of plaster or clay) to expose a different colored ground".

Here is how I created the decoration on my plate bowl:

Photo: Inspiration Inspiration

My inspiration for the pattern was my Ric Rac Orchid Cactus.

Boy this cactus was small back in 2013. It is now a big boy. I have propagated it into numerous plants. See photo at end.

Photo: Trace the Pattern Trace the Pattern

Here I have traced the leaf (stalk?) pattern onto the plate bowl with a yellow water color pencil.

I am using a WATER COLOR pencil because I can easily remove it with a wet paper towel. Water color pencils are easy to find in art supply stores.

I turned the plate bowl out of maple wood. Then, I prepped it with (one or two coats, I don't remember) of black acrylic gesso paint. I thined the gesso a little with some water. The gesso dries flat. I like to use a good quality gesso. I use either Golden or Liquitex brand.

Latter, I will top coat the finished piece with a semi gloss or gloss finish. For now, I just want a nice flat surface I can draw on.

After the gesso dried, I sprayed it with flat lacquer to toughen up the gesso and make it water proof. In 2013, I probably used Deft brand flat lacquer. Sprayed on from a rattle can. Today (in 2019) I would use 2 to 3 VERY LIGHT coats of Krylon brand "Matte Finish 1311". Matte is the name of the finish. It dries fast and makes a great surface to work on top of.

Photo: Transfer the Pattern to a Template Transfer the Pattern to a Template

After I create a pattern that I like, I need to replicate it over and over on the plate. I do this by creating a template.

I get some thin, yet rigid, see thru plastic sheet from local craft or fabric store. Quilters use this stuff. Low cost. You can get it with or with out a grid on the plastic. It looks like I had the grid stuff back in 2013. I now prefer it, with out the grid.

I trace the pattern I like onto the plastic with a run of the mill #2 pencil. Click on the photo for a better view.

Photo: Cut Out The Template Cut Out The Template

I cut out the template with an X-acto knife.

Note: Should I call it a Template or Stencil? I am going with template.

Photo: Test The Template Test The Template

Here I am testing out the template. It looks good.

Notice that I discarded the part in the middle. The part that most people would keep. I want the outline of the shape. Not the shape. Why, will become obvious in the next couple of photos.

Photo: Template Positioning Gizmo Template Positioning Gizmo

Now I need a way to rotate the template around the center of the bowl and position it at the same angle.

The photo shows the gizmo, I came up with. I cut a piece of plywood that fits in the center bowl. Then I attached the plywood to a chunk of scrap metal.

Then I taped the template to the metal with some masking tape. Now, I have a template that can be rotated to any position on the bowl.

This gizmo works on any outside shape plate (square, oval or round) with a round bowl in the center (or off center).

Photo: How Many? How Far Apart? How Many? How Far Apart?

Now I play around. I move the pattern around and decide what visually looks best. How close together, do I want the leaves? How many leaves fit nicely all the way around the plate?

I can use my yellow WATER COLOR pencil to temporarily draw things on and see how they look. Because I can easily erase the water color with a damp paper towel.

I decided, I wanted 7 leaves. 7 is an odd number. Things often occur in nature in odd numbers. 3, 5, 7, etc. Odd numbers often look best.

7 leaves allows the widest part of the leaves to almost touch. About 3/16" apart. The pattern will visually fill up most of the plate. But, not to much! See photos below.

Photo: Make Reference Marks Make Reference Marks

Now it is time to make some reference marks that will allow me to evenly space the pattern.

360 degrees / 7 leaves = 51.43 degrees. Thus, I need a reference line every 51 degrees and then fudge the last one a little if needed to make it look good.

I used my protractor to mark the first 51 degree spot. Then, I just attached the protractor to my gizmo and rotated it, to make a mark every 51 degrees.

I made all the marks with a WATER COLOR pencil so I can easily erase them latter with a damp paper towel.

Photo: 7 Reference Marks 7 Reference Marks

This photo shows the 7 reference marks.

Why didn't I use the index in the lathe? Well, I find indexes built into lathes, are generally, completely and totally useless in my not so humble opinion! They are way to hard to use. They are often buried inside and/or hard to see. They have way to many holes. I only need like 12! Counting every fifth hole or what ever is for the birds! It never comes out right! Are they zero or one origin? Err……

In this case, there is no doubt, any lathe index is completely and totally useless! I want 7, an odd number. Lathe indexes are always even numbers!

Photo: Replicate the Pattern Replicate the Pattern

Here I have taped the template to my gizmo. I am rotating the gizmo. Lining it up on my reference marks. Drawing on the pattern with a WATER COLOR pencil.

Photo: Read To Go Read To Go

This photo shows the pattern all drawn on and ready to go.

Photo: Circle T-Square Circle T-Square

This photos shows my circle T-Square. I got this from Al Stirt. The t-square has been adapted to ride on the outside edge of a circle.

In this case, my outside bowl is circular (rather than square or oval) and my inside bowl is in the center, thus I could have used this rather than my gizmo.

I could have just taped my template to the t-square and then rotated the t-square.

Photo: Outline the Pattern Outline the Pattern

Here I have started carving in the pattern with a 1/8" ball cutter (burr) in a rotatory tool.

Note: You can only sort of see the shaft of the tool in the photo. The cutter is not visible.

It looks like, I was using my Foredom Flex Tool back in 2013. Today, I would just use a Dremel style tool. It's the pattern and operator that matters. Not the tool!

Photo: Fill In the Pattern Fill In the Pattern

Here I have RANDOMLY filled in most of the pattern.

Photo: Carving All Done Carving All Done

Here the carving is all done. I used a 3M Radial Bristle disk to clean up any carving fuzz.

Ready for a finish. Hum? Well, I don't really known. It may already have a semi gloss lacquer finish on it.

Photo: The Finished Piece with Inspiration The Finished Piece with Inspiration

Can you see the resemblance?

Photo: Finished Piece Finished Piece

Here is the finished piece.

My Ric Rac Cactus Plate Blow. 8-1/4" diameter, 1-1/4" tall. Cherry wood. Power carved pattern. Semi gloss lacquer finish.

My Ric Rac Orchid Cactus in 2018 Photo: Ric Rac Orchid Cactus in 2018

Here is a picture of my Ric Rac Orchid Cactus. Out on my deck in 2018. It's a big boy now. Click on the photo for a better view.

The Ric Rac Cactus is on the right. Pointed to by magenta arrow. There is another Orchid Cactus on the left in full bloom. I love the red one. I don't known the name. It was a cutting from a mother plant with fantastic flowers.

I love Orchid Cactus because they have fantastic flowers. They are really tough. Easy to grow. But, they can be a bit ugly when not in bloom.

I love the shape of the Ric Rac Cactus leaves (stalks?) and the flowers look great. The flowers are white and orange. However, the Ric Rac flowers do not smell good. They have sort of an industrial smell. Not really foul, but not sweet and pleasant.

The red one in photo smells good. But the smell is faint.