Size matters: large turnings command attention; small objects draw the viewer in to hold and to touch. The limitation presented to these four woodturners was to create one or more small objects from a piece of wood measuring 2″ x 2″ x 4″.
The creations of Ed Kelle, Bonnie Klein, Joe Seltzer and Jennifer Shirley have a presence that goes way beyond their size. Yes, size matters, but so do design and execution.
Many of these tiny objects were made using standard-size lathes; however, for those who have space limitations, a miniature lathe, a few tools and something to sharpen with are all that are needed. Well, wood’s required, of course, and I’ve found there’s plenty of that lying around everyone’s shop: those precious scraps that are too good to burn, yet not large enough for major projects. In fact, even though I offered to supply everyone with wood, three of the turners selected pieces from their own stash.
Small-scale turning can open a wide range of possibilities for individuals who need to sit while working; for snow birds who travel; and for young children just learning to turn.
Most small turnings require the use of miniature or small-scale turning tools. But don’t worry, they’re easily available through woodturning catalogs and at woodworking stores. When it comes to tiny turnings, it’s helpful to select a fine-grained wood. Excellent fine-grained species are boxwood, dogwood, pear, persimmon, holly, hard maple and many of the exotics. But don’t forget to consider the branches of larger trees. For example, if I want to use ash wood for a small turning, I might harvest a small branch from a large tree. The growth rings will be closer together and finer-grained, helpful for small-scale turnings.
The ability to see well is of paramount importance. I recommend those magnifying lenses that fit on a person’s head. They’re sort of like wearing a pair of reading glasses, but easier to use when working at both medium and close distances. They’re a standard fashion accessory for Bonnie, as well as for many other turners! I have my own pair.