Al Stirt's Friday Session made Peter's day

I had not attended any of the previous one day group hands on offered by the Guild because of time or money restraints.
This one I managed to fit in, and I'm glad I did.

Al was a very good teacher and from the prompt 9:00 am start right through until 5:00 pm guided us through the tasks he set in a very comfortable manner.
We were given a brief introduction to his work with a slide show on his laptop and then started the morning session doing a coloured and textured bowl.

He spent time showing how to use a sheer cut with 2 scrapers to produce a smooth surface and then did a series of beads using a detail gouge with his own grind. Then we each took a piece of cherry and performed the same procedures at our own pace on the Guilds lathes.

Before lunch he picked up the bowl again and hollowed it, and then using black gesso painted the wide rim. He showed us in detail how he came up with the patterns he carves and the procedure he uses to lay out the pattern on the rim. Then using a power carver and a V carving bit carved out the pattern.

After lunch he moved onto a square platter with the same methodical approach. First showing some cove textures with 2 sheer scrapers and then reversing the platter and preparing the top for more decoration. Using milk paint he explained there was a chemical reaction between the paint and the wood that he exploits.

This time a rotary tool with a 3 tooth tool gave a series of cuts like a basket weave. He laid out a grid on the platter and used a homemade device to ensure radial lines. Then another homemade device to hold the platter during the carving process allowed him to use 2 hands to control the carving process. After carving the piece was painted with black milk paint and allowed to dry. Finally, scrubbing with a scotch pad the effect of the paint on the wood could be seen.

Again, this was all presented in an easy casual manner that allowed us to ask questions also get help when we tried the different cuts and finishing techniques. At the end of the day, we did a wrap up and talked about developing our own personal styles in decoration.

I didn't manage to finish either piece completely but brought them home with notes on what needed to be done. Hopefully, they will be completed soon.
This was a very valuable experience for me. I needed a boost to get me past some creative doldrums and this fitted the bill. Really good value for money and at less than $20 an hour for professional instruction a bargain.

  Thanks go to Al Stirt, the Guild and the executives who made it all possible and a special thank you to Ed Robinson for the facilities and lunch.