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My first proper foray into public demonstrations came the other weekend at the Axminster Tools and Machinery shop in Basingstoke, affectionately known by myself and countless others as ‘our toy shop’!
I had been asked by the store manager, Simon several weeks ahead of time if I would like to go an demo at the store – and of course, I jumped at the chance. It would be quite a feather in the cap for an Axminster demo for any turner! The obvious choice for my demos would be colouring and texturing, so that’s what I did. Four items over two days. Great fun.
The first piece I turned on the Saturday morning was a coloured sycamore platter. It cut beautifully and came up a treat through the finishing process. It accepted the colour well too. I tried to stop at each step along the way to talk about what I was doing and why, and to answer questions too. I’ll gloss over the bit where I nearly went through the bottom of the piece! Lol.
The pictures in the gallery below were taken by Colin French who I met on the Facebook group ‘Woodchuckers’. He came along with his brother Mark to see the demo. It was great to meet them both – and everyone else too.
After this piece was done, I had some lunch and chatted with some of the ‘audience’ about their turning and their techniques. Also, my friend Leon came up from Southampton to watch and get some bits for his own workshop.
Next up was another piece of sycamore which was to be textured, coloured AND gilted. Quite a deep piece this time. It turned out well, and I am sure that some of the visitors were having kittens when I butchered the outside of the walls with the dremel!
Below is a video of me turning the inside of the bowl by Steve who is on Instagram as ‘onemandandhisbenchdog’
On the second day, there were fewer people milling around but there was still a bit of crowd gathering as I pulled out the blow-torch and started burning the first piece! Made me chuckle. I’m sure they only watched to see if I would actually set fire to it!
In the centre, I pyrographed in a simple celtic knot from my collection of downloadable designs. From start to finish, I did quite well to get it done in just short of two hours. I’m pretty happy with the result, although I did make a rookie mistake – I put the blank on the lathe the wrong way round – there was pith running through it close to one face, and I stupidly made that face the one for the bottom of the piece. Whoops. Therefore, I nearly went through the bottom of this piece too.
Second-up on the Sunday was a chunky lump of Ash. My god was it tough! My gouge lost it’s edge half way through each virtually each cut as I was hollowing it out. It took almost as hour to chew through it. It really was the hardest piece of wood I think I have ever turned. Still, the piece came up a treat and I did all that I could to lose the small amount of tear-out left in the inside. No-one is perfect!
All in all it was a great experience and one that I am looking forward repeating. Axminster have said I can go back in January for another go, so I can’t have done too bad a job! they’ve also received some positive feedback, which is good! Phew.
I’m pretty sure there are some things I could have done better. In fact, I know there are some things I could have, should have done better, but it was my first proper public demo, and I am very pleased with how it went.
Were you there? If you were and you have some feedback you’d like to share, please leave a comment and tell me what you thought. Thanks.