Friday, December 25, 2009

My new toy

Flying pig ornament, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

Merry Christmas to me! I received a Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8 Macro IS USM lens -woooohoooo!

I gave it a trial run this morning, using my old ring flash that I used with my 35 mm film SLR. My new lens has a filter size of 67 mm, but my ring flash is for 52 mm. I put an adapter ring on. I was worried that the reduced ring size would have a big impact on the imaging, but, aside from losing some of the field of view, it worked just fine.

Here are some of my ornaments and flower shots from today using the ring flash:

Lesotho angel

My Lesotho angel - collected in 2003.

Richard's ornament

Richard's first Christmas ornament.

Ndebele ornament

An Ndebele ornament, collected in South Africa.

Angel Dachshund

One of my dachshund ornaments - definitely not a portrait of Emma. She was quite a hellion today.

Santa in a canoe

Steve's new ornament that his folks gave to him.

Some flower shots:





And now for the penultimate scary shot (the scariest was of Steve's nose!):

Emma snoot

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunrise over Waterman Farm

Sunrise over Waterman Farm, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

This morning brought the most spectacular sunrise I've ever seen in central Ohio. What a wonderful way to start the day, and what a nice reminder that the winter solstice has come and gone and the days will be getting longer.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas (or other significant religious or non-religious celebration of the season). Christmas 1999 was the first day I did any turning and so tomorrow marks my 10th anniversary as a wood turner. What an amazing ride that has been.

Ten years ago on my birthday in October, Steve gave me a minilathe. It sat in the box until Christmas morning because I didn't have any turning tools. So, Christmas rolls around and there's a big, clunky box under the tree. I thought it was probably something for the kitchen and so I was less than enthusiastic about opening it. I had made a family rule some years before then that no one was to give me a utilitarian gift for the kitchen (after having received, year after year, the gamut of small kitchen appliances and gadgets, which usually meant more work for me).

I think that big clunky box was the last to be opened. I was so very pleasantly surprised to find a set of wood turning tools. I knew nothing about sharpening, didn't have a grinder, but I really, really wanted to give them a try and so I rushed down to the basement, pulled the lathe out of its box, set it up on my workbench (much, much too high for turning), put a piece of wood between centers and started, right then, to teach myself to turn. Catches? You bet! I learned from each one of them.

I have a wonderful neighbor across the street. His name is Walt Betley and he's been turning now for 77 years (he's 88). He soon set me straight on the proper use of my new tools and he sharpened the set for me. Needless to say, I bought a grinder and sharpening supplies and straight away learned the value of sharp tools.

I took every project across the street to Walt for his honest critique. He's a retired army colonel and so had no qualms whatsoever in telling me what was wrong with each piece. However, he also told me how to fix it. I well remember the day when I took a bowl over for his critique and he handed it back to me without a single criticism. That was within six months of the beginning of my adventures as a wood turner.

Funny thing about turning bowls and gift items and not being able to give them all away: I got bored with brown and round before the end of my first year as a wood turner. I walked into our local Woodcraft one day and saw a whole wall of carving chisels. Simple surface enhancements in the form of lines and divots soon ensued. Not long after that I discovered acrylic paints in one of the craft stores. The sign above the display said something about their being useful for painting wood. Hmmmmmmm - I think you can see how my style of work had its beginning.

Carving, painting, wood burning, whatever - I wanted to see what would happen and I experimented to my heart's content. I didn't know I was breaking tradition - I was just pursuing my curiosity.

I went to my first AAW symposium in 2001. I brought three small painted and textured bowls with me to display in the instant gallery. I sold all of them - imagine my shock and pleasant surprise. The next year I attended the symposium I brought the first of my botanical motif designs. My large platter was selected for the instant gallery critique, and I was invited to exhibit with del Mano gallery. Shock of all shocks! I had been turning for all of 2.5 years and was invited by the premier gallery of craft art? Wow!

Needless to say, I wasn't quite prepared for that kind of attention since I didn't even know I had any artistic talent. I had always thought that artistic talent meant you could draw or paint. I can't draw, and didn't think I knew anything about painting. How wrong I was. I discovered, through working with wood, that I can envision things in 3D and bring my visions to life. I taught myself to paint, and I'm self taught in turning and carving. I do take every opportunity to take a class with a master turner when we have visitors to the club. I'll continue to learn at every opportunity.

The past 10 years has been a wonderful journey in discovering and expressing my artistic talent. I feel so fortunate to have a great job, a great family, good health, and the time to play with wood. I've met so many interesting people through wood turning and have seen a lot of interesting places through my demonstration opportunities. I'm represented by del Mano gallery, The American Art Company, The Real Mother Goose gallery, Nina Bliese gallery, and several others when I'm invited to exhibit. Yep, it's been a fantastic 10 years.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wood Carver's Hands

Wood Carver's Hands, originally uploaded by SWolfeNI8W.

Steve did some photography of me in my studio this morning. I'm working on a very complicated leaf vessel, which has already been on my bench for about 20 hours of roughing out. I just finished the shaping of the outside and am now moving to the inside rough out.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chihuly at the Franklin Park Conservatory

Chihuly abstract, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

Franklin Park Conservatory has a Chihuly exhibit right now. It's always fun to see Chihuly's work in the conservatory, sprinkled amongst the plants. Here is some eye candy for you to view the exhibit through my eyes. As much as I enjoy seeing the sculptures, I always like exploring the abstract aspects of the work.

More images from the exhibit:

Chihuly - 1

Chihuly - 8

Chihuly - 2

Chihuly -6

Chihuly - 3

Chihuly - 5

Chihuly - 4

Chihuly - 7

Monday, December 14, 2009

Made some earrings this weekend

Carolina Cherry Earrings, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

This pair is now posted on Etsy. I'll be adding some of the other sets from this weekend as I find time this week.

Etsy listing for long dangles with contrasting tips:

Carolina Cherry Earrings

Etsy listing for triangle dangles:

Carolina Cherry Earrings

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Busy weekend, busy season

I sure don't know how this year has flown by so fast. Sometimes I feel like the Red Queen alá Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass - "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place."

I sure did a lot of things this year, including an amazing trip to the Himalayas of Nepal in May, and a trip to China in February and Mexico in September. Maybe that's why the year has gone by in a blur. Approaching the winter solstice, I always reflect on what has happened in the past year. I think this has been one of the most interesting of my life, but I don't know that I've really accomplished all that much. Well, I take that back, actually. I found out what it was like to live in a stress-free zone while I was trekking in Nepal. I try to remember what that was like when deadlines are looming as they are now. And, yes, I know - I'm not giving myself enough credit for all the things I accomplished this year - that's just me, and I don't take myself too seriously.

As winter approaches I'm trying to reflect on all the happy things that I experienced during the year. The short days together with the overcast skies are hard on me. Seasonal affected disorder - yes, that sums it up pretty well. I don't mind winter per se, but the days without sunshine are not my favorite ones of the year. However, I'm starting to appreciate those gloomy days for the photography opportunities they present. I really like bringing out the contrast in the clouds as a backdrop to something interesting in the foreground. There! I feel better already ;-)

I hope everyone who follows my blog has an enjoyable holiday season. I'm looking forward to watching Emma, my miniature dachshund, discover her presents under the tree on Christmas morning. I feel another YouTube video looming in the near future.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More wearable art

#7 Carolina cherry burl, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

I've had a sufficient number of queries about whether my earrings are for sale that I decided to sign up for an Etsy account. So, if you're interested in acquiring unique earrings made from wood and sterling silver, please check my Etsy page.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Wearable art - my new distraction

#11 Carolina cherry burl, originally uploaded by andiwolfe.

I have a confession to make. I'm an earring junkie. I love dangle earrings - especially handcrafted, wearable art. I can't go into an art gallery that carries jewelry without buying some beautiful handcrafted earrings. Thus, I've been percolating an idea of my own. My internal dialogue has gone something like this:

"I'm an artist. I work in wood. I love earrings. Why don't I make some carved wooden earrings?"

So, I'm starting to dabble in wearable art in addition to my wood turning and sculpting. They're actually pretty challenging in many ways - the small scale, carving symmetrical shapes, and capturing the organic beauty of the wood.

I'm starting with burl woods that have been hanging out in my shop - mostly scraps left over from other projects. I'll start buying some nicely figured woods dedicated to wearable art projects in the future.

If you click on the image, it will take you to my Flickr album where I've posted some other examples. I would really like some feedback at this early stage of my experiments. Thanks for taking a look.