Every two years the Worshipful Company of Turners has put on a big wood turning exhibition at the Carpenters Hall, London. Along with the exhibition they run a range of different wood turning competitions including a pole-lathe turning category. The brief was to turn a decorated goblet this year and I was delighted to see that one of the goblets I turned won first prize in the category.
Goblets are not something I have been particularly interested in turning in the past. However I have found that it helps to be given a specific narrow task, forcing me to change pace or direction with the stuff I am making. I developed two main things as I prepared for this competition – a new technique and lathe set-up for end grain hollowing on the pole lathe, and the application of some simple carving techniques to decorate the outer surfaces. It was really nice to pick up the same gouges I have used for carving patterns on boxes and chop into the goblet with them to create simple decoration. More importantly though it has got me working on drinking vessels again for the first time in years.
In my most recent research I came across a group of turned vessels that seem to have been fairly common in France, Switzerland, and Northern Spain. Essentially they are all wooden goblets that probably mimic glass forms and were used for drinking wine. In northern Spain they seem to accompany the big turned wine jugs, which Asturian turner Arturo Iglesias Martínez is now making. I need to do a bit more digging and translating before I write a proper post about these.
The push to make end grain goblets also brings eastern aesthetics to mind, with additional inspiration coming from my recent trip to South Korea. They have a long tradition of turned wooden bowls, cups, plates, trays etc. used for serving food and tea. I am hoping to tap into some of that rich vein of forms and functions in the coming weeks on the lathe.
To top it off I had a fresh look at the old Irish drinking vessels, lamhogs and methers, in the National Museum of Ireland. Supposedly they have quite a few in storage that I must go look at.
Side profiles of turned drinking vessels constantly swirl around in my head with more material in my imagination than I will ever manage to produce on the lathe. Oh well.