Pleasing shapes have been found in every civilization throughout history. Many of them share the same basic rules of good design that were first taught in ancient Greece, and used for 3000 years of pottery and furniture design. We can also apply these rules to the things we turn from wood. The Greeks perfected and used the "Golden Mean," a formula for the ratio between the short side and the long side of a rectangle that will appear balanced to the viewer. I learned to use the "rule" for furniture design back when wood shop (Manual Arts) was still a required subject in high school.
This web page is intended for the beginning segmented bowl maker. This is basically a "no math" or "graphical" maybe a "very little math" approach to segmented bowl design. I have made three design sheets that will help the beginner through the design phase. Using these three design sheets, I have designed a 9-layered bowl using 12-sided frame-mitered rings. This web page will walk you through the design steps.
Of the many applications of spindle turning, furniture making is the most interesting to me because of its fascinating history. It gives me the chance to copy old pieces, reinterpret work I have seen, or create entirely new designs. I think furniture work is "accessible" to most turners, because furniture parts are manageable in size, and we encounter examples frequently in our daily lives. In this article I will explore the designs of gate leg tables: a type considered a classic of early American decor, but having its roots in earlier baroque styles from Europe.
Have a goal every time we turn on the lathe. Our skills at the lathe will determine the complexity of the goal. I don’t believe anyone that says that they didn’t know what they were trying to do until the wood was in the lathe,. This is the “I let the wood speak to me” approach. This doesn’t mean that we can’t change our mind once we have started. We may have several possibilities in mind, and a hidden flaw or defect can determine the option. But, we should always have some idea of the mission before we start.
The salad bowl is unique among those things that we make from wood because it is the meeting of "function" and "art" in a "useable" piece of turned wood. It is something to be used, a functional bowl whose shape and features are defined by its use. That doesn't mean that it cannot be "artistic", with the beauty of form and wood that makes it something to be admired and the topic of conversation while it is on display in the middle of a table setting.
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