Taking Inspiration From Nature

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Mark Baker

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The decent weather is upon us and the turners and carvers seem to migrate form their workshops and get in the garden, days out (when the weather is good), holidays and time out with the children and grand children. It also seems that very little is being created in the workshop during this time. But it is a time to recharge the mental batteries and hopefully see some things – architecture, flowers, trees, or whatever it is – on your travels that spark ideas off for your work.

I saw some bluebells in some woods recently and the setting was so serene that I wanted to try and incorporate the feeling I had when I saw the place in a piece of work. I know it sounds a bit airy fairy, but I think you understand that capturing the spirit/essence of something is what will cause us to think about what we are trying to make and how we try to achieve that.

Simple processing and producing the same or similar things over and over again is what production turners do for a living. It is a technical process that over time becomes rote. Most tuners don’t do that – we rarely need to make the same thing over again – we are more likely to have no financial constraints which means that we normally produce one-offs, and this gives you so much freedom in what you make. Most pieces that cause us to look twice have a certain something that attracts us to them. We cannot always say what that thing is; sometimes it is nothing more than a feeling that resonates within us. We are back to that thing called feelings.

We often find that our memories are triggered by smells; I find that I can smell something and all of a sudden I remember a certain event that happened way back when. If we think of the sea, what is it that you think of? Is it the power, the vastness, the fickle nature of it, the gentleness on a balmy evening in the Med or even the colour? Painters try to capture that feeling and essence all the time. How many of us do that? Turning work that is treasured is so much more than a mechanical process of the cutting and shaping of wood – there is a thinking behind it.

I look forward to your comments regarding this.

Have a look at some of these articles connected to design:

Fundamentals of Designing

Pushing the Boundaries

Body Line

How Computers Open Up Design

Making Maquettes

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