A large statement piece was finished today and hung in the gallery. It has been several months in the making and is turned from Orkney sycamore. It was exciting to have such a large piece of sycamore, grown on the Island, to work with. There are so few trees here, generally sycamore, that when one is felled for whatever reason it is more often than not claimed as fire wood. We really have to stay on the ball and keep in touch with the landscaping guys to get some pieces. At its widest point it measures 580mm and its overall height is 680mm. We have called it ‘Broken Shield’.
Initially Michael cut the blank and mounted it on the lathe to turn the circular shapes. He then carved the two outer parts sanding all of the piece and making small alterations until he was happy with the basic look.
The slow drying out period now begins. The piece is placed in the corner of the workshop and encased in wet shavings to start with. After about a week it is moved to the racks on the shelving and is air dried in a cool ambient temperature for several months. Pieces always warp during this stage taking on extra character, but laid flat and being so thick this piece remains relatively flat and therefore better for hanging.
A few weeks ago the piece was moved to the gallery, which is heated to finish off the drying process.
Now Michael can embellish the piece and do the final finishing. He has been studying the piece to decide the best options. He ebonised the carved areas and inserted ebony studs. The piece was given a final sanding and then several coats of Danish oil. The point of balance is found to attach a strong hanger. A lightly tinted wax was applied to achieve a more aged look and then it was buffed. A large silver hallmarked staple was knocked into place and finally it was stamped, signed and numbered.