Terry Scott Critique

I have selected this work to go into the Level Three Woodturner category, which should be regarded as a complement on its own.

Some may say what gives me the right to critique others works.  I have learnt much from others doing the same to myself and hopefully can now pass on some of the knowledge learnt.

This judging or critique is based on how I would judge for example the Royal Easter Show Wood Crafters Exhibition.  Meaning that not only will the piece be judged on its own, but also against others that would be entered in the hollow forms category.

The Royal Easter Show Wood Crafters Exhibition is regarded as one of the most prestigious wood events in New Zealand.  Without pushing my barrow, I have featured in the hollow form category for the last ten years. Two years running taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd.  Why? I think I have undertaken correct form with a passion; every work must be an improvement from the last.

Class 35: Hollow forms /Vases

Hollow forms are wooden items which may be decorated with other materials, which have been hollowed while turning on a lathe through a hole which is significantly smaller than the diameter of the finished work. Vases are wooden items which may be decorated with other materials which are at least twice as high as they are wide and have been hollowed while turning on a lathe through the main opening.

Finish:  I would normally start with visual impact; however, what caught my eye instantly about this work was the quality of finish.  9 out of 10, close to perfect.

Question:  Has the turner enhanced the grain or texture with the finish?  Yes, top marks.

Too often I see works that the finish is not appropriate for the piece.

Lovely if someone has coated with 35 coats of lacquer but if you are blinded by the gloss how can one appreciate the effort and the underlying beauty.

Too dull and some timbers look blah, no life. We have to bring the wood to life, not kill it.

One problem with this work that needs to be considered are the bug holes. Would it have looked better filled or carved to highlight the effect?  Re -sale may be seen as a problem to a gallery or customer as you cannot send work into many countries with evidence of bugs or bark. Here in New Zealand, to get into the country, the work would go through a process where it is taken to 100 per cent humidity at 60 degrees. Best case, Formaldehyde injected.

If this were a show piece, the inside would be inspected to see that the finish is equal to the outside. In many cases this determines the winner. Maybe taking to an extreme, however, I recently was a Judge for the Australian nationals. Two other Judges that are gods of turning had lights with magnifying viewers. Every piece was also measured with callipers for even wall thickness.  

Another consideration with finish is contrast; do colours match and tie in together. This applies to added colour as well as natural timber colours.

Here we have an ebony insert with a timber that has some darkened spalting. Further down I discuss the insert.  

Form/Line elements

Seating: Does the vessel sit well and is it balanced?  In this case, yes, very well. With the slight kick under at the foot, the vessel appears light and has lift.

Crispness to detail:  Many failings are in that a turner has added detail then sanded out all that skill he had in creating the shape.

Obviously I cannot pick this vessel up, but if I could, I would expect the feel to be mid weight, not heavy and not feather light. If it’s not, it’s like walking down stars when you don’t expect another.  That feeling is not a nice one but the same applies here.  Visual and feel are related. If a customer picks up my work and its light looking and it feels light, the expression of feeling sells the piece.

So far we have a work that is in the place getters, next step are proportions.

Although it shouldn’t be, if a judge walks into a room and a work says look at me, that work will often be on the podium. So, visual impact is probably the most important content of any work.

Visually, this piece is what I call attractive yet on the Masculine side. This is caused by the position of the widest part of the vessel or shoulder. By lifting the widest part of the vessel an inch would improve what is already a beauty to look at.

The Ebony cap /insert in my opinion is well out of proportion which is drawing the eye. What do I mean by this? When you look at the vessel, the first thing you see is the ebony lid /cap. By reducing the overall size diameter to just under one third of the vessel while still continuing the flow of the curve would then mean the vessel becomes one piece and not a hollow form with an obvious lid. The Maker mentioned he had thought about a finial. This would open up a whole new can of worms   as the proportions would also need to be altered on the vessel to bring the shoulder even higher.

My bent on finials is if you cannot turn nice finials don’t (that’s why you don’t see many on my Works) this is another big learning curve.

Technical difficulty in the making:  The turner shows a high skill level.

Summary of Comments

This Hollow form has the makings of a prize winner at any show because the timber has been highlighted to its best advantage not only with form but finish.

It wouldn’t have been beneficial to texture, carve, highlight, colour or stain.

With a bit more attention to the magic mean I’d have to mark this work with a total points of 85 out of a hundred.

Would I be happy if I made this, you bet!!


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Saturday the 20th. Thanks for visiting Woodturners Unlimited.