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Idea for Sculpture

03/14/2017 6:42 PM

Hello,

I'm an artist/filmmaker and I also make wood sculptures using a lathe. I have a woodturning idea but need some scientific help. Here's the idea:

I would like to glue and screw a lot of my smaller shapes together somehow, and/or natural shapes like pistachio or walnut shells. Then I would like to embed the whole thing into some material that can be woodturned and finally, then that material would be melted or washed away.

Question: What material? Sawdust mixed with .... what?

Here's a sample of my work.

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#1

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/14/2017 7:03 PM

White glue.... I think the sculpture you posted is pretty cool, It would look great in my yard.

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#9
In reply to #1

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/14/2017 10:15 PM

Thanks for enjoying my sculpture. However, it's not waterproof so it wouldn't make it in your yard. A gallery is trying to sell it for me because it should be in a building lobby somewhere.

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#2

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/14/2017 7:45 PM

Glue only - you won't be able to turn it (without lots of damage) if there are embedded screws/nails etc.

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#5
In reply to #2

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/14/2017 10:03 PM

Yes, I'll have to plan it carefully so any metal screws are out of the way of the lathe turning. Perhaps screws made of something other than metal?

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#8
In reply to #5

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/14/2017 10:13 PM

Maybe I could SEW the basic shapes together . . . first drilling little holes in the wood and then . . . fishing line or something.

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/14/2017 10:35 PM

Beautiful work. As far as screws have you thought about pinning gluing the pieces together with small wooden dowels? A little more friendly with the lathe tools. And maybe Plaster of Paris? Tho, that would a dusty process and just a thought.

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#3

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/14/2017 8:11 PM

Well you could probably freeze it into a block of ice, and then let it melt....You would need to use waterproof glue and maybe coat it with urethane.....How large of a scale are we talking here.....

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2015/01/iced-flowers-exotic-floral-bouquets-locked-in-blocks-of-ice-by-makoto-azuma/

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#7
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Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/14/2017 10:10 PM

His work is beautiful! Thanks.

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#4

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/14/2017 8:50 PM

The Japanese are the masters of patterns in wood or Yosegi. Pen makers & knife makers use woo/acrylic blanks to make barrels & handles. Not sure what you could use that could be removed afterwards, water soluble glues? might not have enough strength to work though. One method used in industry is to support fragile or complex shapes for machining is to fill with low melting point alloys. These can be removed by dunking in hot water. The material is expensive but can be reused once it is melted out.

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#6

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/14/2017 10:06 PM

I love the work.

As for your request, adding metal pieces (screws) to your wooden bits and pieces will be very problematic for your wood cutting tools on your lathe. The use of a reversible binding agent will also pose the problem of things falling apart when the binding agent is reversed. That being said, you might consider simple ice as a binding agent. But not ice at normal freezer temperatures for the heat of cutting on your lathe might melt the ice too easily. Water ice from a chest cooled with dry ice might work. You'll be making a form of Pykrete but with larger chunks of wood in the mix.

To expedite thawing you might consider a microwave oven. Trial and error experimentation will have to be done but you will certainly have low cost material to try this.

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#15
In reply to #6

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 2:26 AM

I might try some wallpaper paste (home made) combined with sawdust.

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#11

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/14/2017 11:44 PM

I have done some wood sculpture, though none as elaborate as this....

...by just gluing plywood together and sanding it to form...starting with a belt sander with rough grit to get the shape and reducing the grit size as you go...I've also made furniture without nails by just using joinery techniques...

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 12:18 AM

The trouble with using glue is that it is harder than the wood, and extremely difficult to sand....if you try to grind it, it like melts and re-hardens on the grit making it useless...that's why it's best keep it at a minimum...grinding and sanding your wood into shape and joining it together is much easier....I use to know a lady that used a die grinder to make sculptures on the surface of wood blocks, she then painted them with wood stains or something, they were terrific...

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#14
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Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 2:22 AM

This is beautiful. It reminds me of some sandstone shapes in Arizona.

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#16
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Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 2:58 AM

Yes very much so....

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#13

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 1:00 AM

This may or may not work in your case, but wood pieces can be glued with pieces of newsprint between, enabling separation later.

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#17

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 12:37 PM

I like the ice idea best so far, but my first thought was to use plaster. You could pour the plaster in and it would hold the small parts in place for turning and as long as they were fixed together strongly enough the plaster would wash away.

Only problem with my idea is the plaster would not do any favours for your cutting tools. Perhaps there is a non-mineral based plaster that would wash away?

Drew K

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 1:39 PM

I was thinking the same (#8), using plaster. It'd be dusty during the turning process. I've found plaster of paris is soft enough it doesn't damage my wall knifes while shaving it. The biggest draw back with plaster would be the bleaching effect on raw wood

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#19

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 3:38 PM

Unless you have a client who is paying you, up-front, to do a similar piece, your chosen sculpture is clearly the result of a lot of time, effort, material, and money, but it has very little (artistic grace), so do yourself a favor, and chose a less bristly, and less complex configuration, with more simplified ''lines'', in a more graceful and inspiring 3-D composition, if you want to make a more positively memorable result...

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 4:05 PM

" ... but it has very little (artistic grace)" Man, where'd that come from? As they say, "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" I, for one like the piece she shows in the OP. I'm envious of her talent.

Do you have anything you created to show the rest of us?

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 4:13 PM

I'm an artist and I don't know why I do what I do. The wood for Prickly Sphere #2 was free . . . I get my wood from the local yard waste dump.

What other people think has never concerned me at all.

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 4:31 PM

I don't know why you mark your commit "off topic"? I voted you on topic. You do some beautiful work. As far as straight simple lines, I don't think you can get much straighter and simpler lines than using a lathe? And to use recycled wood, can't get much better than that! Keep up the great work! You go girl!

Oh yeah, welcome to CR4

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 5:09 PM

If the rest of you agree with me about Daina's #21 should not have been OT, vote against it and maybe we can turn it around to a GA.

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#30
In reply to #23

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 8:31 PM

Suspect Daina voted themself OT (giving them 5 OT points) as all the other ratings on that post have been GAs.

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 8:45 PM

I know and being new to the forum, she may not have understood that part of the rating system.

Anyhow, I don't understand how the hell "Mr. Guest" can be so cynical of someone else's "artwork"?

Unlike alex12, she is forthcoming with her idea and what she hoping to do

Where's Lyn when we need his 2¢ worth, at least he has some appreciation for artwork.

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#39
In reply to #21

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/16/2017 11:59 AM

The photo in post #21 is a step in the right direction, but I still wouldn't donate to buying it...

I would pay for something like those shown in posts 11 or 12...

(Responding to post #20, personally, I haven't done much artistically, being too busy holding down a more conventional engineering job, and getting paid regularly, but my father was a Professor of Art, at Columbia University, in New York City...)

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#25
In reply to #19

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 6:17 PM

Who are you to say "it has little artistic grace"?Sling yer 'ook!

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#26
In reply to #19

Re: Idea for Sculpture.

03/15/2017 6:22 PM

Not sure what you are talking about, but I for one like it. I would like to have a piece like this.

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#24

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/15/2017 5:10 PM

Daina,

Is there some place I can see more of your work? If you posted it, I missed it. The more I look at it, the more I like it.

It's primal to me, almost insect, or arthropod like. I would like to own a piece of your work but know I could never afford something like the big piece. Do you have small pieces for sale in the same design?

P.M me if you have smaller pieces for sale, hopefully I can own one because I think they are great.

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#27
In reply to #24

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/15/2017 6:34 PM

The background is the side of my neighbor's dirty storage tent, but the shadow came out okay.

Here's my Facebook page where I post my work for my artist friends. The sculptures are further down, photocollages first.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1270767459653062/

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#28
In reply to #27

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/15/2017 7:24 PM

Thank you for the link, If affordable (for me), I would like to own one of your pieces.

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#29
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Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/15/2017 8:05 PM

"The background is the side of my neighbor's dirty storage tent" If you didn't tell us that, we won't have known the difference! I think it adds to the composition, either way "A breath of fresh air for a bunch of codgers" Thank you!

Dan

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#32

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/16/2017 1:32 AM

There do exist nylon screws. They are not wood screws, but machine screws, so you'd have to drill and tap holes for them, but they would make it possible to hold two or more pieces together, and wouldn't damage your cutting tools if you cut into them while turning or otherwise shaping workpieces.

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#33

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/16/2017 2:29 AM

There is adhesive under brand name "CASA" for bonding of miniature wood work, May be it can solve your problem.

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#34

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/16/2017 9:11 AM

Couldn't you cut each of your glued-together pieces by hand instead of turning the entire mass on a lathe?

It's not that hard when you get down to it and it's more 'artistic' than turning it on a lathe.

If you're making a cylindrical shape, take your entire piece that you want to shape into a cylinder and mount it vertically on a circle of plywood of your preferred diameter and then either use your eye or use a vertically aligned straight edge like a broom handle to determine where it needs cutting.

You might be surprised how accurate your eye is by that method and anyway, art is art, so say you choose to use your eye and it's a few thou off somewhere - well it's art isn't it - it's not a manufacturing process.

If you're making a ball shape, select a starting point which should be your base point then have two planks spaced apart by the diameter you want your ball to be and gradually roll your piece around - cutting as you go - till your piece fits multi directionally between the planks.

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#35

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/16/2017 9:17 AM

Just make sure you post what methods you try and what works in the end...with pictures! As you can tell, most of us appreciate your work and look forward to seeing the fruit of your labour.

Drew K

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#36

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/16/2017 9:28 AM

if you used an epoxy glue to permanently secure the parts then use a machine grade wax to fill the voids. then heat and remove the wax?

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#37

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/16/2017 10:52 AM

There is a wax compound used in the tooling industry for holding small parts to be ground. It is called Rigidax. They have a formulation that dissolves in water. This may work for you.

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#38
In reply to #37

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/16/2017 10:55 AM

GA! I think this is exactly what was asked for.

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#40
In reply to #37

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/16/2017 7:50 PM

not cheap...

http://www.machinablewax.com/product.php?product=44

although it should be reusable....270°F melt temp could be a problem...and then you would have to remove the wax completely....

http://www.machinablewax.com/technical.php

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#41
In reply to #40

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/16/2017 9:39 PM

I checked it out, but it's not practical for me.

First of all, it's too expensive. I would need to use a lot of it and I do my turning on the in my back . . . not yard, back woods, with chips flying in all directions and becoming part of the forest floor.

I only use yard waste wood . . . no preservatives or chemicals.

I'm going to try to make some sort of home made wallpaper paste mixture, combined with sawdust. Will it work? Who knows. It will be fun to find out.

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#42
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Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 12:12 AM

I don't think paste is made for thickness, it shrinks too much as it dries, causing cracks...They do make saw dust panels that are pressed together with glue, heat and tonnage...You've probably seen it, it's used in cheap cabinets and furniture, and mobile home floors.....the big problem is that it falls apart if it gets wet....it's also very heavy....I think without being pressed, it will just crumble apart to the touch...

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#49
In reply to #37

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 2:54 PM

Way to go Harvey! I was sort of also thinking along those lines with lost wax casting wax, but heat to melt the wax might we kind of a problem.

Most lost wax additives are fairly higher melting than paraffin, but one blends them with paraffin that will melt in hot water! The other wax stays in solution in the paraffin.

It is good enough to carve intricate jewelry designs, so why not this?

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#43

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 5:33 AM

An alternate consideration; Wood dowels or plastic screws. I would opt for dowles to match the natural wood finish. Then coat the item in paper mache which is easily turned when firm, and removable with a light water jet spray and a nylon brush or a steamer bottle.

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#44
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Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 11:50 AM

This is interesting. Paper mache? Yes, I will try that.

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#45

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 12:09 PM

free ideas

Assemble smaller components with catalyzed Cyanomethacrylate adhesive.

Trade turning blade for high speed die grinder.

Slow the lathe considerably.

Adhesive remains. Sheen can be unified with lacquer of desired gloss level after turning.

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#46
In reply to #45

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 2:12 PM

This is an interesting idea that you could use to make some very dynamic changes to your current method of using a normal wood lathe.

If you set your part in the lathe but turn it with a low speed motor or even a drill and use a high speed rotary tool like a hand held router or dremel you could cut away material in an even manner like the normal lathe but also cut in patterns by cutting into the part with the rotary tool.

The advantage to the low turning speed is you don't have to use such a solid structure to hold the parts together to prevent explosive destruction from high speed turning.

That is something we have not (that I saw so far) mentioned. If you do try to hold heavy wood parts unbalanced in a high speed lathe they might explosively destruct from the imbalance. Or even if balanced, a component might come un-stuck and get thrown out at very high velocity.

I think for your safety you should follow dadbob's advice and spin the assembled part slowly and cut with a high speed cutter.

Drew K

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#47
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Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 2:41 PM

Don't worry, I won't get hurt. I've been doing woodturning for years and years . . . intuitively . . . and I know how it's going to go. You seem to be afraid that the whole business will fly apart, and that has happened to me from time to time, especially if I'm turning some "punky" wood with termite holes, etc. I wear a face guard and plenty of proper clothing for protection and I also use a "Stebcenter". If the chisel should catch, the work disconnects instantly from the drive and stops dead. This was invented for folks who are just learning how to turn, but I find it useful.

As for the speed of the lathe . . . by now I intuitively know what's going to work. Sometimes it's safer and easier to go at a high speed, but use just a tiny chisel, or even just the point of a chisel, so that all that turning force gets concentrated on a tiny little bit of wood. This takes patience, but I enjoy messing around with the lathe, so patience is not a problem.

I'm going to do a lot of experiments with paper mache and bits of wood and nylon screws and maybe walnut shells or rambutan shells, just to see how it will go. I will post pix of what I'm doing as I go along. Adding force to the chisel tool (i.e. router) would really throw everything out of kilter. From experience I know what the circular lathe motion will do, I also know what a router will do, but put them together . . . my subconscious just can't handle it. It would be like Jackson Pollack trying to make his splatter paintings with a chain saw.

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#50
In reply to #47

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 5:38 PM

It would be drastically different from what you do now, but I bet with your patience and curiosity you would learn to put a groovy twist on it.

I don't have experience with a wood lathe (and not much with a metal one either) but I do have a good intuitive grasp of physics I would worry if your wood components are not balanced they might twist or move on a nylon screw. Could you cut soft brass with your chisels? If you use brass screws to hold the parts together make sure they are positioned in a manner that the centripetal forces are not going to let them move.

I never met Jackson Pollack, but hope he would like your idea of using a chainsaw in his art...I did watch Jackyl use one in a concert many years ago!

Drew K

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#54
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Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/18/2017 11:26 AM

You have a good point on the twisting, and that's true with either plastic or brass screws. Every part that's held by screws MUST be held by at least two screws, unless it is a single screw along the axis of turning.

Yes, brass screws can be cut by good sharp woodworking tools.

One advantage of using fully threaded machine screws (either plastic or brass) over wood screws: If the parts are tightly clamped while being drilled and tapped, then both (or all) parts can have threads. If the head is either intentionally or accidentally cut off, the threads will still hold the parts together. With a wood screw, it the head is cut off, the part held by the head can fly off.

Here, I've shown three layers of material held together by either a fully threaded machine screw or a wood screw. In the case of the machine screw, when the head and some of the shaft are removed by machining there are still threads holding the right-hand layer in place, while in the case of the wood screw, there is only a straight shaft, so the part could fly off.

To the OP: take the time to drill pilot holes for all screws, wood or machine, to avoid splitting, and the above would require extra-long taps to thread that deep.

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#55
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Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/18/2017 1:16 PM

There is an additional consideration. I like to give the impression that all these bits just kind of jumped together and stuck. Usually I use drywall screws with large threads. I drill a hole into one of my shapes, add crazy glue, and screw in a drywall screw 1/3 of the way. then I wait for the glue to harden and cut off the head of the screw with bolt cutters. Then I drill a hole in an opposing wood shape, add glue, and screw the two shapes together, hopefully making the method of joining invisible.

After putting together lots of bits this way and assembling them into a sculpture, if there are any wiggly spots that threaten to destabilize the whole business, I drill a hole through two or more shapes at the point where they touch, leaving a good part of the screw sticking out. Then cut off the top of the screw. I always have a collection of my shapes that have been cut into two parts. I take one of these and drill a hole in the cut end, add CA glue, and screw it on to the sticking out screw. It looks like this bit has flown onto the sculpture and embedded itself into another bit of wood.

I have found that it's best that my pieces have a bit of "play" and not completely rigid, so long as it doesn't compromise the structure.

It seems that it wouldn't be hard to use some sort of nylon screws, or perhaps some sort of pins of very strong plastic. I know that some woodturners use long Acacia thorns, but I can't get any of those.

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#56
In reply to #50

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/18/2017 1:37 PM

That's funny, "intuitive grasp of physics". Let's say you wanted to climb a tree. A knowledge of physics would help a bit, but there are so many variables that a conscious mind couldn't handle it. The strength of a branch, which can't be accurately judged, the strength of your hand or arm, the wind shaking the tree, the slipperiness or bendiness of a branch, a sneeze, a blinding ray of sunlight hitting one's eye, etc. etc.

Working on a lathe is kind of like that, especially if the wood is interesting . . . spalted, termite holes, knots, rotten. The only way is with experience. For me that fine because it's fun, but a grasp of physics only covers perhaps 10% of the problems.

That's also why I like to use yard waste wood because if something breaks or falls apart, or is visually boring, I can just throw it out into my back woods and take a fresh bit. Green wood is good or turning.

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#57
In reply to #56

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/18/2017 8:43 PM

I like your philosophy. Maybe that's why your work is so unique? Keep it up, even if there some hater's on here! We're not all that way!

You might consider using wood dowels for pinning (#10) your work together then turning it?

Have fun

Dan

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#53
In reply to #47

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 9:30 PM

Now that was clever my dear. I doubt many got the message. What a subtle, clever girl you are.....

Does one study/admire the shadow cast, or the object of your art? Or a culmination of both and the background texture?

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#51
In reply to #45

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 8:16 PM

I'm liking this - even turn off the lathe motor and rotate the part by hand (on the chuck).

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#48

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 2:48 PM

There a number of castable resins and materials you could use with pistachio hulls, etc. to make composite material, then turn it.

I have no idea how you would get rid of (or want to get rid of) the hard finished plastic. Maybe freezing the material in ice, then turning it would work, but how is it supposed to hold together after the ice melts away?

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#52
In reply to #48

Re: Idea for Sculpture

03/17/2017 8:35 PM

Some woodturners use resins, but it would not be fun for me. First of all, it's dangerous and smelly and would mess up my organic garden/woods. No chemicals here.

There is no way to get rid of the resin after it's turned, that's just the way it is.

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