It has been three years since Axminster and Hampshire Sheen have been able to organise a ‘world tour’ of their stores!
But it is happening in 2023, starting at the Nuneaton store on Saturday, 21st January.
At each store, I will demonstrate turning techniques on a selection of project pieces and finish them with a few of the products from the Hampshire Sheen range, including the new Professional Spray products.
Last October, I headed over to Denmark to demonstrate for the Hampshire Sheen distributor there, Traedrejerbutikken on there show stand at the Kreative Dages event.
Having returned from my week in the US on 29th August, and demonstrating for a club in Somerset, I’ll be sleeping as much as possible before heading off again!
Rene Hansen has invited me back over for the shop open weekend in Odense on the 3rd and 4th September, and I can’t wait to go.
I’ll be demonstrating the Hampshire Sheen finishing range in the main shop area on both days.
Last time, Rene, his team and the Danish turners made me feel very welcome indeed to their country and put me to shame with their excellent English. I have some time now to at least practise some simple greetings in Danish – languages were never a strength for me!
Find out what happened last time I visited Denmark by clicking HERE.
Last night, I presented a bowl turning improvers demonstration from the workshop studio here in Hampshire.
Aided by a host of on-screen graphic overlays, the demonstration clearly illustrated the techniques I use in my bowl turning. This included the correct position of the gouge bevel on the inside of a bowl which is nigh on impossible to illustrate without those images.
There were plenty of questions coming up during the evening, which is great for these types of demonstrations. They need to be interactive for everyone to get the best out of the evening. My wife, Natalja was keeping an eye on the questions in the chat and relayed them to me whenever we stopped.
Here are some screenshots of the recording from Zoom.
All in all, I am very pleased with how the evening went. For a technical demonstration we finished just about on time. Three hours for a paid event is pretty much spot on, I think.
Those who attended received a link to watch back the recording this morning. They also received a link to download a .pdf of supporting notes. Included were many of the graphics shown on screen during the demo which should help in the workshop.
I expect there will be a few more of these remote demonstrations in the future. I’m already planning one on finishing split over two evenings, perhaps . . . but we’ll see!
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I nearly fell off my chair last December when I was approached by the organisers of the SWAT symposium to invite me to be a lead demonstrator for their 2022 event.
Of course, I said a big ‘Yes’!
Previously, I have demonstrated at the Irish National Seminar in 2018 as well as my own UK & Ireland Woodturning Symposium for each of those events, as well as travelling to Denmark and Ireland on other separate occasions.
So to be invited to be a lead demonstrator at what I think is the second largest turning event in the US aside from the AAW is a great honour for me indeed.
The SWAT event is being held on 26th, 27th and 28th August at the Waco Convention Centre. (Find it HERE) with the official hotels of the event being the nearby Marriott and Hilton.
I have been asked to present two demonstrations twice over the three days of the event and it took me ages to decided what to do.
As I am known for my colouring, I’ve opted for an ‘Atmospheric Colouring by Hand’ demonstration as there are some specific techniques I use that I’d like to share. Plus, I’m presenting my technical demonstration of my ‘Fibonacci Bowl’ which challenges preconceptions of calculable form. It is a fun and thought provoking demonstration that should get attendees thinking and talking!
My flights have been booked for a couple of months now and thankfully, I am flying in on Monday 22nd August on a direct flight to Dallas Fort Worth on American Airlines. I’m then staying in Dallas and hanging out with Craig and the guys from Wood World of Texas which I am looking forward to. As they are the main Hampshire Sheen distributor in the US, I am looking forward to meeting them.
In between my demo rotations at the convention centre, I will be demonstrating on the Wood World of Texas stall in the vendor area, so if readers are attending fancy having a chat, it will be a pleasure to meet you.
The other lead demonstrators at the event are Trent Bosch, Barry Gross, Mike Mahoney, Dennis Paullus, Craig Timmerman and Andi Wolfe. I’ve not seen Mike since I visited the Kansas City AAW event back in 2017 so I’m looking forward seeing him again, and meeting the other demonstrators.
With only 3 weeks to go, I’m beginning to wonder what it will be like! I’ve not been to the US for years and not demonstrated in front of large audiences for even longer. It will be exciting, that’s for sure.
It really is an honour to be invited over to SWAT and I and very much looking forward to going. I know a few turners that will be attending, so it will be great to have a some friendly faces around so I won’t feel too much like a stranger in a strange land.
A few weeks ago, Les and I were talking about what it might be like to be students again for a day to remind ourselves what it is to be a beginner at a new skill.
It was my birthday recently and my lovely wife Natalja bought me a days pottery experience at a local workshop called Loam. Having never done it before, I was looking forward to it.
The Loam studio is located in the South Downs National Park not far from Petersfield in Hampshire. It is run by Jack – a young, talented and enthusiastic potter and tutor.
There were six of us on the course that day and he welcomed each of us, chatted and remembered all our names all day!
The classroom was light and airy with previous student’s work waiting to be collected on the shelves. Each of us had our own wheel, water and tools to use.
To begin, we cut our own lumps of clay. 700 grams per lump, if I remember correctly. Jack then demonstrated the basic techniques required to get started.
It Looks So Easy . . .
As a professional at anything, we can make our craft look easy to onlookers. A deft move of a hand here, a twist of the wrist here and voila! it’s done. It takes many, many hours of practise to get that good, and to then copy that technique for the first few times is a challenge.
As a student again, It was surprising how much concentration is needed to alter the grip to keep walls thin and rising up from the wet clay in my hands. And strength, too! You need strong wrists in the opening stages in order to get the clay centered on the wheel and moving.
And here is my first ever piece of pottery! It’s a bowl with some coloured slip on it.
I’m happy with it. No-one should ever be disappointed with their first of something. ‘From acorns’, etc.
Jack was on hand to guide us through the pieces as we fumbled away at the wet clay. After a couple of pieces and some technique reminders, we were let loose with our imaginations to spin our own creations.
If memory serves me well, my second piece was this milk jug, again with a coloured slip on it.
Making the spout was not the method I expected. It requires a bit of a push in on the sides and a tug on the spout.
All the pieces I turned, I left with sponge marks on them to keep some obvious texture rather than attempt to smooth the surface.
Next was a bowl.
I wanted to see if I could spin a bowl similar in shape to the bowls in my woodturning. Trying my best to produce the same elegant curves using just my hands rather than tools was a challenge. Mostly they didn’t quite hit the mark, but the shapes I did produce were more than good enough for a first go.
The most interesting part of this was having to feel the shape forming between the fingers of both hands. The sides need to be raised up and pulled out at the same time. It was surprising how tricky it was to keep an even wall thickness. A simple twitch and the wall would be too thin, or even collapse.
I didn’t take pictures of the other pieces as I was working on them. I felt I needed to keep my eye and mind on the wheel, so to speak.
Afternoon Drop in Concentration
We were treated to a splendid salad and olive bread for lunch, prepared by Jack. Conversation in the group was largely about what we did in our day jobs. My companions for the day were retired musician, social workers and a mother and daughter on a joint treat.
Having relaxed over lunch, getting going in the afternoon was hard work and I made a few frustrating mistakes.
The morning had been quite intense with learning new techniques that in the afternoon, they blended into one. Jack was very helpful though and was on hand to get us out of trouble.
We each completed six items during the day and I think everyone was pleased with them.
Before heading home, we chose a glaze for those pieces we didn’t put any slip on. This would be applied after we left and before the pieces were fired (twice).
And here are the finished pieces, glazed and fired.
After we left, the bottoms of the pieces were finished off in a process called turning. During the firing process, the pieces shrunk by around 12%, leaving them smaller.
Now they are home, I feel the same happiness with them as I felt when I began turning back in 2014. Natalja will find them homes and functions at home, and I will be able to see them and enjoy the memories of making them from a lump of clay!
What Did I Learn?
Learning is fantastic, but I rarely learn new skills. To be back as a student for a day instead of the teacher was brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jack spin his pieces and listened carefully when he came to my aid. I paid attention to what he said as I wanted to be the best I could be on that day. I think it worked.
When teaching woodturning, I find that students concentration and energy levels tend to drop off in the afternoon and found that mine did, too. Even though a good lunch is provided, it happens every time! I felt frustration making what I considered to be silly mistakes in the afternoon that I can only put it down to being tired. Perhaps I may have been a little confused, too. We learned just four or five different techniques for different things in the morning and in the afternoon, I must have muddled them up a bit!
A good teacher like Jack though, will be able to gently guide a student back to where they should be understanding that learning a physical skill is an intense thing to do.
We must remember that we cannot run before we can walk! The same with any practical skill, practise is required. Keep a realistic head on your shoulders as to what you want to achieve, and what you actually can achieve. Plus, it is important not to become despondent if things don’t quite work out. This was day one. No-one is ever brilliant on day one!
All in all, I had a brilliant day, and I am grateful to Jack for his patience and help.
Fancy Learning to Turn?
At The Woodturning Shop, myself and Les Thorne run regular courses for turners of all abilities throughout the year.
I like to arrive early at demonstrations. I like to get there and wind down for a time to get my head in the right space and go over the demo details.
Berkshire Woodturners is a club that is not far away from my workshop. It should take about an hour or a little less to get there. Leaving at 5pm (in case of traffic issues on the M3) my sat-nav gave me an eta of 6pm(ish).
Approaching a roundabout, just 5 miles from the destination, there was an incident involving a lorry and a motorcyclist that held the traffic back whilst emergency services coordinated the scene.
To advise the club I may be late, I called Malcolm the chairman a couple of times. Thankfully though, the traffic started to move at about 6.45pm. I was relieved to see that the motorcyclist appeared to be alive and being tended to by paramedics.
I arrived at the venue and unloaded a touch before 7pm and set-up in time to start the demo at 7.30. Phew!
The demo for the club was a contemporary ring box consisting of three parts at sizes commonly found in offcut boxes in most turner’s workshops.
It is a great project with plenty of creative opportunities.
That last time I demoed for Berkshire was in 2018 and it was a pleasure to return to see them in the flesh rather than via the internet.
The club is very proactive and streams their in-house demonstrations out from the community centre. This enables members not able to come or to share the evening with another club. They have also updated their camera set-up to superb HD quality cameras and screens.
Questions and Interaction
Questions and input from an audience is a great way for everyone to get as much from a demonstration as possible. It adds extra content to the presentation aside from the spiel from the demonstrator. I was very happy to have been asked lots of questions throughout the evening.
The demo went quite well in the first half. The only problem was the hollowing tool I was using was dull. The ash lid of the box was hard as nails, too. I resorted to a scraper and showed how it is possible to hollow effectively with it.
During the break, the club judged their competition and gave a critique of the entries. Well done to the winner.
The second half had to run quicker than planned, but everything went to plan and I finished bang on time for clearing up.
I like to make sure that the pieces I turn in demonstrations are completed from start to finish. This means I need an extractor so I take with me a Record Power CamVac. They are brilliant.
With the temperatures rising across the country, the weather was set to be absolutely stunning for my trip down to Yandles for a couple of days demonstrations of the Hampshire Sheen brand of finishes and general turning.
I visit Yandles regularly, or at least I did before COVID! It is one of my favourite places to demonstrate – particularly in their enormous saw mill. The company has been going for donkey’s years and includes a superb selection of timber, turning blanks and an enormous shop of all manner of tools and machines. There is also a gift shop, cafe and craft shop there, too.
Arriving on the afternoon of Thursday 14th to get set-up, I was provided with a Record Power Coronet lathe and a good space in their tool shop.
Nestled amongst machines from Laguna, Charnwood and Record Power, it was a relief to have a breeze blowing over the top of the shelves.
Fleur de Lis Inn
Frustratingly, I was unable to book into my usual haunt for a Yandles trip, The White Hart despite booking months ago, so I settled for the Fleur de Lis pub in a neighbouring village, just a 5 minute drive away.
A nicely laid out 15th century inn, it had recently been taken over by a new manager. The bar area was airy and light whilst the beer garden was a pleasant sun trap!
The room I had was a triple, spanning the width of the building meaning I could have a through draft during the two balmy nights I was staying there.
Friday 15th July
Although not officially part of the open day, I demonstrated in the shop on the Friday. There were a good number of customers looking around and I spent a long time with a newcomer giving him some impartial advice on most things to do with turning.
Saturday was the polar opposite of Friday with 70 craft stalls pitching up in the front car park as if by magic first thing in the morning.
Emma Cook was there demonstrating next to saw mill to seated audiences during the day. In this room, a schedule of demos was underway. Aside from Emma, there were bandsaw demos by Record Power and Larry Chant.
There were also a number of other turning demonstrations going on from clubs and other turners.
Radha Sivyer from Channel 4’s Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker programmes was demonstrating for Arbortech in the wood yard and Planet Tools were outside the shop demonstrating in full sunshine!
On this day too, there were turning taster sessions bookable for visitors, and carving sessions hosted by Stephen Stokes.
In the shop where I was, the queue for the checkouts were long and warm – this was a warmer day for sure.
With a steady stream of customers stopping to watch what I was up to in the shop, I was kept busy until 1pm when I had to up-sticks and move my stuff to where Emma had been demonstrating.
Over in the main demo room, I was to present a finishing masterclass at 2pm.
Despite the heat, there was a full house as I set about my demo using some of the Hampshire Sheen range of finishes.
Wow, it was warm!
During my demonstrations, I like to include as much turning as possible, so some bowl turning technique was included rather than just finishing! Although I run a business making and distributing finishes, demonstrating them can be somewhat repetitive!
Join Martin on Tuesday 2nd August from 7pm (UK) for an in-depth remote demonstration designed for beginners and intermediates to help improve their bowl turning.
Using a permanent 7 camera set-up and a host of custom on-screen graphics to clearly illustrate the cuts and techniques he uses in his own turning, Martin’s presentations are clear, concise and entertaining.
Plus, as a remote demonstration, you are guaranteed the best seat in the house – your own!
Hosted in the popular Zoom environment, this is an ideal opportunity to learn or refine these techniques:
Different Bowl Gouges
Lathe mounting options
Easy bowl shapes
Martin’s easy to follow commentary and teaching style has lead many on to improve their techniques and inspire them to try new things. His relaxed but energetic presentations are popular with clubs for both in-person and remote demonstrations, like this one will be.
Click the Read More button below to book your front row seat.
Back on 25th June 2022, I live streamed the turning of a bowl and base with the aim of showing viewers what goes into the filming of a YouTube video.Scroll to the bottom of the article to see the final edit.
The filming went generally as expected – it took longer than anticipated by a couple of hours this time round. I’m certainly out of practise – and it showed in the footage.
Starting at 10am, the aim was to turn the relatively simple project and record the process, editing on the fly as I have been doing for a couple of years now. This time though, the process was to be streamed live for viewers on YouTube and Facebook.
And here are some photos.
There was a section when my microphone battery died, and I am very grateful to Paul Kavanagh for phoning the shop to let me know – he saved that portion of the video and potentially blowing the whole thing!
For editing, I use Adobe Premiere Pro CC which is an industry standard editing software. I could probably get away with using something else, but seeing as I use other Adobe products.
It looks complicated, but after editing a couple of videos, it is fairly easy to find what you need.
Music in my videos is important to me. It adds to the ‘infotainment’ style of the videos I produce. A great deal of time is taken during the editing process to find tracks I like from the Epidemic Sound library I subscribe to. The tracks are then put into the video and footage largely edited to fit the music.
Overall, from five and a half hours of recorded footage, this video took somewhere around 4-6 hours (I didn’t time it!) to edit in the version you can see below.
The general YouTube audience only watches around a maximum of 20 minutes of finished videos. As such, there is a lot from the stream that is missing from the edit which is unavoidable if I am hopeful of as many people watching the final cut as possible.
If you tuned into the live stream, thank you very much for your time and I hope you enjoy the final version.