Saturday, September 18, 2010

Claude Lethiecq's Chinese Ball display at the 2010 AAW symposium

Here's a video I put together from the 2010 AAW symposium where I interviewed Claude Lethiecq about his amazing work.


Anonymous said...

It would have been nice if he said how he gets those little balls inside the bigger balls on top of the star and who was the person he was competing with? did that other person's things look the same or different, I wonder. Pretty nice except he mumbles so.

Andi Wolfe said...

Chinese balls are turned from a single piece of wood. The technique involves a sphere jig and some specialized tools, plus lots of patience.

Here's a write-up from Bill Neddow on another site where I posted this video:

I have known Claude for quite a number of years and he is
probably the biggest undiscovered treasure in woodturning
in North America. (He is actually quite well know in

He was demonstrating at the first organized woodturning
meeting I ever attended. He was showing us how he does
flutes on his deep hollow turnings. His approach was
different. His concepts were incredibly well thought out, his
jigs were gems of construction and the results were
fantastic. I was mesmerized. I became aware that my
mouth was very dry, which brought me out of my
mesmerized state enough to realize that the reason my
mouth was dry was that my mouth was hanging open. I
looked around the room. Everybody was doing the same
thing. It was quite a demonstration (of turning, that is!)

I got to know him after this, and realized he is a very open
and giving man, willing to share his experiences and pass
on his knowledge. In the video he mentions how he
had a friend who was doing the same type of turning and
there was a friendly competition between them. The friend
was Dan MacDonald, who died recently from cancer. It
was a friendly competition that went on for years. One of
them made a simple Chinese ball, the other doubled the
number of balls inside. This went on until you could not
pack more balls inside -- then they came up of the idea of
adding a star to the center (still all made with one solid block
of wood). When they exhausted this concept, they started
making intertwined bundles of balls -- and when this started
reaching the limits of physics -- they added stars to this
mix. For years, they did things everyone thought was

Quite a pair of guys. I hope someday, someone writes their