Category Archives: Treen



This piece is off to a new home!  Steve and Mark at Coldstream Gallery Ulmarra sold this piece for me – many thanks!

This piece is the result of a few diversions around an initial idea.  I had toyed with the idea of making a Mobius shape that brought a mask to mind.  Unfortunately, there were a couple of issues.  Bright ideas in the middle of the night lead us down a different track.  One thing followed another until this form made itself known.

None the less, it is a very showy piece of camphor laurel.  Happy with that.


Set of Four Turned Plates


Before plastic and glass and ceramic, there were wooden dinner plates.  Although they are no longer in everyday use, there are good things in favour of wooden plates. They are durable, easy to clean, and keep food warm.  Many types of wood is known to have mild antibacterial properties – Camphor Laurel is reputedly has strong antibacterial properties.  Over time and regular use, wooden plates develop a wonderful smooth tactile patina.

Wooden plates were more common in countries where there are large stands of timber – Scandinavia and Northern Europe in particular.

We first came across wooden plates when we went to lunch at with a friend who emigrated from Denmark.  She had a set of turned octagonal plates of Baltic pine.  When I bought my lathe, the first thing Su wanted me to make was a set of wooden plates.  The first few plates were made from common Radiata pine.  It was cheap, available, and I wanted to practice before I used some good timber.  One of those plates was a reject (the base was so thin it oil-canned), but the other two were put into daily service.  Every day, I use one or the other for lunch.  They are a little worn from washing, and there are a few knife marks, but they are still going strong five years on.

After the pine plates, I made a set of 8 camphor laurel dinner plates.  These have been in daily use for our evening meal and when we have guests.

Care is easy.  The plates were initially treated with orange oil, but have had no re-oiling since.  After dinner, I hand wash the plates in the sink, drain, dry with a tea towel, and leave to air dry in a plate rack.

How hard is that?

The set of four plates above were made as an entry to the Clarence Valley Woodworkers Jacaranda Festival exhibition.  Now that the exhibition is over, I can offer these for sale.


Making Treen…


Just a few of the pieces I’ve made over the past couple of weeks…

Making treen is relaxing and profitable activity.  Low risk perhaps, not spectacular perhaps, just nice simple functional objects that people like and buy…  And it uses up some of my collection of off cuts and oddments…

Now that I have cleared the decks and stocked up again, back to real work.  The next big job is Su’s desk.  Another adventure, a couple of new ideas to try.  I have three large slabs of premium redgum ready to go.  I’m planning on opening up the slabs on Friday –  that’s always a step into the unknown!





Lots of Boxes… and some vases


At the end of October, the Clarence Valley Jacaranda trees burst into bloom – and it’s time for the annual Grafton Jacaranda Festival.

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The Lower Clarence Valley based Northern Rivers Woodworkers Association hold their annual show and presentations in conjunction with the Jacaranda Festival.  The show is in part the completion for awards, and partly market, where club members can offer goods for sale.  This year, there were 24 stall holders, offering over 1700 items for sale, with a total value in excess of $70,000.

I entered three of the competition classes, and put together a display table.  As usual, completing goods for display at the Jacaranda festival tends to be a last minute affair.  This year, we made a bunch of small dovetailed boxes, and we put some of Su’s glass flowers on top.  This was not an original idea – we stole the idea from Deb Dunmkerton, a glass worker colleague of Su’s.  And we called them ‘Deborah Boxes’.

We also had a couple of small turned vases in various woods – these also got some glass flowers, a selection of small turned dishes, and some gum leaf shaped bookmark / letter openers.  And to fill the display, I added a couple of items that were Not for Sale – a small side table,  a chair and some turned plates.

This was my first time at the Jacaranda Festival show.  Happy with the display!

And we sold one of the boxes on the opening night!

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Sculpture 101

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Moebius Strip in Camphor Laurel

The Northern Rivers Woodworkers Association organises a series of workshops on different topics – wood turning, animal carving, finishing, etc…  I went with the sculpture workshop, run by sculptor, designer and engineer Karl Rubli.

For my motif for the course, I chose a Moebius Strip.  The Moebius Strip is a topological curiosity – a single surface bounded by a single continuous edge.  And it has some peculiar properties.

I chose it for its interest, curiosity, and because it involved a twist.  I have carved a small piece with twists before, and interesting things happen to the form, the cross section and the way the light and shadow works.

Of course, Karl’s workshop was only enough to get us started on the right track.  After a good deal of carving, and even more sanding – I finally decided enough sanding was enough – time to finish.

One coat of Danish Oil, a coat of wax – I’m happy with that!

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Does this mean I’m an artist?


The Lower Clarence Valley Art and Crafts Association run the ‘8 x 8’ show each year.  The event is open to all, with a $10.00 entry which includes a 200mm (8 inches) square canvas (hence the 8 x 8 moniker).  Entrants can offer the pieces for sale, or mark them NFS, provided sale price is less than $250.  This year the theme was ‘Messages’.

As a good citizen, I supported the show and put in an entry.  Machined up out of scraps and off-cuts – including a that piece of dark red Jarrah that came from the first BBQ that Su and I ever owned.

I titled the work ‘Message Sticks’ – obvious – but I did think about calling it ‘Fake News’.

So the piece sold.  $85.  Fancy that!  Someone liked it that much!  I’m flattered and amused.

But I don’t think it makes me an artist – or a professional…

Making Treen…


Small bowl from Turpentine

Once the workshop was made, the first job was to make a table for the lathe.


Making treen – making a mess…

Next, I spent a few days making a mess – and making a few small bowls and dishes – and some dinner plates.