On my desk – turned wood

On my desk today are a group of beautifully turned wooden kokeshi-like dolls. My Uncle Michael has had a wood lathe for a long time but just recently has been spending some serious time turning out exquisite bowls as gifts and these dolls specifically for me to decorate. Let me tell you, it was with a tremulous hand that I approached the first one yesterday with a sizzling-hot wood burning tool. It’s hard to get my head around decorating them as in my opinion they are perfect just the way they are… but I experimented on the little peg-like one on the right.

The wood burning tool catches in the grain so it’s difficult to get a smooth line, but it was exciting and now my mind is buzzing with possibilities.

I tried wood turning at uni – it was incredibly difficult as a beginner (for me, anyway). It’s one of those activities like throwing a clay pot. When you watch someone with expertise and talent work at it, it looks beautiful, soothing and as easy as working with soft butter, but when you try it yourself things go (sometimes scarily) awry. I finally managed to turn a strange knobby thing to include in my woodwork folio, but it didn’t inspire me. Michael’s work *is* what inspires me.

You may also like...

25 Responses

  1. Kirsty says:

    Eeek! How lucky you are to have a Michael. Absolutely gorgeous Claire both raw & with your gorgeous burning. Really wonderful.

  2. Fran says:

    I just bought a set of blank dolls to paint but these look amazing. Even your proto type looks adorable! That’s one talented Uncle.

  3. Carrie says:

    I think how it catches in the grain, it brings out the beauty of the wood.

  4. Cherry says:

    Oh my lord. I had a gorgeous wood-turning neighbour a while back and recently have been looking into lathes and how to build my own (ahem, after seeing the prices of “real” ones, as I just wanna try it out!) so your post is total eye candy for me.I agree with Kirsty: lovely both before and after.

  5. Susan says:

    Oh my, so beautiful and sooo Loobylu! I love the cheeks, very sweet.

  6. sosser says:

    they look wonderful! …and don’t they smell good when you’re burning them? love that

  7. naomi says:

    what a lovely little face. Lathes are tricky things. When we were younger my dad made a pedal lathe which he set up in the backyard for the kids to use. We hacked out all kinds of weird shapes and bowls. I cant wait to see what you do with these dolls.

  8. Lisa says:

    oooo, they look lovely. I’d quite like to cup one in my hands and rub it’s lovely round-ness all day long. Oh, that sounds a wee bit rude doesn’t it?

  9. Allison says:

    They are very sweet, with and without embellishment. I’m so keen to make a little set of my family like I saw here (http://www.colorfool.net/2008/04/24/us/), but I’m having trouble finding the right dolls here in Australia.

  10. Fuji Mama says:

    I love how kokeshi are all unique and individual. I love the beginnings of your first one and can’t wait to see more!

  11. imogen says:

    Ah how much i love your site! Wood turing isnt really something i regularly think of, but these were amazing! i actually like the way the burning catches the grain- gives it that beautiful hand crafted look! Also a huge thank you for introducing me to the crafty city melbourne site- as a year 12 currently studying art and design in the country i love knowing where to go when i finally make it to the big smoke! Thnks so much for your work. x

  12. amy says:

    Your uncle is very talented…clearly it runs in the family! Watching someone else work at the lathe is mesmerizing. My grandpa used to turn legs for furniture he made when we were little. Watching him create those pieces was like watching a magician.

  13. amanda says:

    What a lovely twist on the clothespin doll. The big ones make me think of the little people I had as a child :)librarycollective.blogspot.com

  14. cheryl says:

    what a lovely little face. i’m excited for all your buzzing!

  15. Maureen says:

    WOW! I think a wood lathe is something my dh had before he moved in with me. It even has an inspiring sound, visions of real wood being worked by human souls. A nice image to share even before you got onto those wee people.

  16. Kimberly says:

    Wow – those are awesome dolls. I used to work on a lathe, way back in the day. I would love to get on one again, but I don’t know anyone who possesses one. You have done a great job with the woodburning tool. They are really hard to use, not to mention when you are against the grain. You must have quite the steady hand.I think your blog is wonderful.Best,Kimberlyhttp://www.kimberleekreations.blogspot.com

  17. Linnea says:

    Those wooden pegs are beautiful… and cute once decorated. I know what you mean about the wood stuff being scary sometimes. When I was 12 maybe I took a wood shop class, and it scared the heck out of me using those sanders and machines with sharp knives. I made a piggy bank, and the ear came out wonky… just because I was frightened when making it. Oh well! I once watched a lady do rosmaling…. her hand painted so gracefully. When I tried, I thought it would be easy…but noooooo, not so!

  18. Kirsty says:

    Does he turn wood dolls in exchange for baking?!! If so, place my order please! I LOVE them plain. How inspiring. Definitely a wood theme going on a Loobylu lately. I thought of you yesterday when I was at Reverse Art collecting some random bits of wood for creating at home. Though pregnancy is somehwat limiting any painting, for fear of inhaling paint fumes!

  19. Cassi says:

    Wow, lucky you to have an uncle that can do this for you! Your sample is adorable, I can’t wait to see the other ones you do 🙂

  20. theresa says:

    hmmmm…something I should try and get my husband to do for me! But I don’t think I could handle another craft! Yours look wonderful though and what a great idea to burn the image instead of using just paint.

  21. Grace says:

    Just an idea. I sand the area back just a tad and either paint or apply the dremmel drill to create the face. When this is done I either go over with the burner or I paint to emphasise the marking, depending on the effect I want to achieve.

  22. Cate says:

    Just a thought — make sure you have one of the nice high voltage wood burners. In my experience, the hotter the burner, the easier it is to use. It’s sort of like cutting with a sharp knife is easier and safer than a dull one.Burners come in lots of different voltages, and often ones sold for kids run very cool and are hard to use.

  23. Kari says:

    Have you seen this flickr group on Kokeshi? So awesome….http://www.flickr.com/photos/2winks/sets/72157602862019339/

  24. do you know where I can purchase blank Kokeshi dolls? Thanks, Bonnie

Leave a Reply