Ted had an idea for the upcoming tourist season and the Back Room Gallery show at Ptarmigan Arts, where he will be one of three local woodturners showcasing their work and talents for the month of July 2016. What about a collection of little wooden bowls, about six inches in diameter, with a food-safe finish so that they could be used and enjoyed every day? And wouldn’t a wooden bowl or two make a great donation for the Empty Bowls Luncheon, an annual event held each fall to raise funds for the Homer Community Food Pantry? The “little bowl” project will continue this winter and into spring, as Ted turns the bowls and hands them off to me for finish work.
Six inch bowls are a nice size for everyday use. They would be perfect for popcorn and your favorite movie or DVD. How about chips or snacks for the big game? A nice bunch of grapes would fit perfectly in one of these bowls, and what better way to dress up your table for a family meal. They are not too big, not too small, and best of all they have a food-safe walnut oil finish.
The bowls are turned from domestic hardwoods — cherry, walnut, ambrosia maple, and black locust. Ted has found a good source of 6″ bowl blanks, some of which are kiln dried and ready to turn as soon as they arrive on our doorstep. Others are green and need time to dry. The black locust blanks, for example, need some time to dry. Ted rough-turned them, removing a lot of the excess wood, and then applied Pentacryl to help the wood dry evenly without cracking. The blanks were then put into brown paper grocery sacks and set aside in the warm shop, where they will dry for about six weeks. At that point, they should be ready for the final turning and shaping.
The photo below shows a blank of ambrosia maple wood and a finished bowl. The pattern in the maple is the result of a beetle that bores into the wood, carrying along a fungus that discolors the wood. Not to worry — the beetles and the fungus are killed by the drying process.
Cherry is one of Ted’s favorite woods. The rosy hue of natural cherry will deepen over time.
Walnut is a popular wood that exhibits a wide range of grain and color patterns.
To make things interesting, Ted adds decorative details on the edges of the bowl. Some of the bowls have a beaded rim, as seen on the light-colored ambrosia maple bowl below.
Others, like the cherry bowl in the photo above, have an edge pattern that is produced with a texturing tool called a Decorating Elf. Forget whatever image just popped into your mind. A Decorating Elf tool looks like this:
All of the bowls have at least three coats of food-safe walnut oil. This is a nice finish that is easy to apply, and best of all it can be refreshed at any time. Although the walnut oil that we use in the shop is slightly more refined, you can buy walnut oil in almost any grocery store in the same aisle where you’d find olive oil.
While we don’t yet have these little wooden bowls listed among the products in our Store, at some point we might offer them online. As with any Ted’s Woodshop item, special orders are welcome.