20th May 2017 Brad Quarless Bowl carver

Brad’s talk was described as “Bowl carving not turning” although his Google entry says ” Bespoke organic furniture and wood sculpture”, and I see his work as the most exciting “Commercial wood sculptor” we have seen for years.   He uses both hand and power tools to produce  a sculpturally interesting, wide range of products including unique furniture, chairs, and kitchen items.   See his web site on www.bradquarless.co.uk.   His uncle was a miner who whittled and father was a carver of items for churches who took him into the workshops.   He has had a journey in wood from woodyard to finished wood from childhood.    The architecture of wrecked boats, driftwood and found wood inspire his work.

There was an interesting display of tools, all were quick, some for heavy wood removal and others for a smooth finish.   We were impressed but the costs were too high for amateurs as we would not make enough use of them.   Brad says the tools had to earn their keep and there seemed to be a garage full of tools that had failed to live up to his standards.

Brad sources his wood direct driftwood from the shore, farmers fields, and from tree surgeons ( it helps to have a cousin in the business) and dries it out before he can work on it.    Above is a 2 inch thick slab of cherry which is destined to be a garden sculpture.    The carving process starts with heavy power tools exploring the natural holes, and cracks to eliminate the weakness they might introduce to the finished work.   He listens to the wood, is guided by the wood, allows the wood to tell him what to do, and does not attempt force his ideas on to the wood.     The holes make viewing points to encourage the public to explore, see more of the surroundings, and share his enthusiasm for wood and sculpture.

     

This huge piece of burr wood was really heavy and as we had begun to expect the vice could hold a ton of wood.   Brad is working on the inside with an angle grinder and a carbide cutter to cut out the inside of the bowl.       He would normally take out much of the interior with a chain saw, but was concerned that the wood might contain a void as it was not as heavy as the bulk suggested.   A slower approach was necessary

      

This is the bread and butter side of Brads business.     A shallow bowl in ‎sapele, roughed out with the angle grinder and then smoothed to a silky finish using a Kirjes Sanding & Polishing System tool.   There is a rubber ball inside the specially shaped sanding sleeve which eliminates the tendency for the sander to leave groves in the work.   With these tools, brad can carve a bowl in 15 minutes, and sell them at a competitive price.   The bowl would be finished with 70%medical beeswax mixed with 30% medical mineral oil, which makes it suitable for serving food

This is one of several slices of a ash tree that had rotted in the middle and will make exciting sculptures.

Brad brought in a selection of books that have informed his work

Exploration in Wood by Tim Stead, With the grain by Tim Stead. Decorative woodwork by A.W.P. Kettles, Creative wood sculpture by G Bentham, Red, Black, Other by David Nash, Makepeace by J Myerson

22nd April Mark Hopkins – Furniture Restoration

Mark gave us as good a talk as he did last time he came.   This is a piece that Mark made from scratch for a show in Exeter, where it won 3rd prize.   Each surface has been covered with veneer.   The main sheet of veneer is soaked, glued to the surface with animal glue, pushed down until flat, and left to set for an hour or so.    The shape of the inlay veneers are cut from the main veneer and the lifted out.    At this stage the glue is amenable.    The soaked inlays are fitted into position and pushed down until flat

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Mark is demonstrating how the veneer is pushed down with a veneer hammer.    As the veneer has already expanded during the soaking, it is important to push the veneer flat from the edges towards the middle so that no extra expansion occurs.   The veneers are then sanded using 120, 240, and 400 grit paper, care being taken that the veneer is not all sanded away.   A coating of coloured stopping is applied to fill in any holes.    This is sanded and then 3 coats of Sand and Sealer are applied with a sanding between.

Mark uses traditional French Polishing techniques.    Small amount of polish and a dab of linseed oil is applied , it is one of those occasions when less is more, as it is easy to take off the polish by having to much oil or polish on the rubber.

Mark showed us a range of veneers bought from Ebay and local suppliers.   Here he is showing us a pack of walnut veneer that had been destined for Rolls Royce.   It seem that one has to buy when the veneer is available, as when you want it, there is none to be found

Mark recommended

Restoration Materials for polish, stains etc.

Nantwich Veneers

H. E. Savill for brass fixings

Martin & Co for historically accurate knobs and hinges

18th march AGM

Rochdale Observer feature on our club