Here are the winners and entries for the May 2020 competition. Due to the Covid-19 lockdown there was no meeting this month so the competition was held again online.
Mark has done a great job running and judging this competition. You can read his analysis below.



While the rest of the world is doing everything it can to ‘Flatten the Curve’, the aim of the virtual competition is to steepen this curve and see more entries each month. The April competition set the bar high, however cocooning is working and we have had another bumper entry.

The Beginners section had seven entries from 6 members. Liam McGarry has produced a natural finish box, bringing out all the beauty of the grain and finishing to a pin sharp point. The photos sent in, showed the inside also which had mirror image hemisphere cuts to base and lid. Michael Quinn presented a dish with crisp straight outer lines and sloping interior, while Mick Johnston lets the sun bring out the colour in his Purple Heart bowl. Michael Loughman entered a Walnut platter and a Laburnum bowl. Both pieces were cleanly finished and had nice grain patterns, however the colouring in the bowl, really stands out. A fine piece indeed. Ronnie Butler has turned a very nice chalice. The light and darker colourations blend very well with the flowing shape. However the winner for me has to be Mike Sims’ American Black Walnut box. The exterior has a well proportioned oriental feel to it, while the interior extends the mystery of the orient with a nested inner chamber.



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Next up, the Experienced section. Vinny Whelan has presented a candlestick on a squared base. The shape reminds me of the Olympic torch that tours the world, which leaves me wondering what happens the flame in these uncertain times? I digress; lets get back to John Doran, who has gathered a nice selection of wood cuts, ply and PVA to come up with this fine chalice. I really like the contrasting patterns throughout. The winner for me is Brendan Kelly with his shallow bowl on a pedestal. The wood appears to be an Irish Oak, however I will be happy for an editors comment to confirm. (Yes it is Irish Oak.)


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The Advanced category is determined to keep me busy (and that’s no bad thing). Eleven entries and each a pleasure to the eye. Some of these entries would fit as well in Artistic as Advance, however I take my lead from the category nominated by the entrant. But where to start?.... last month I pointed out how difficult it is to choose between pieces. This month, the advanced section really challenges me.

Tommy Harnett has turner this beautiful trinket box with dyed Beech base, Laburnum lid and Chacato finial. The colourings both natural and added, provides lots of interest for the eye. The inside of the box maintains the natural colouring of the Beech. Willie Reville is adding some seasoning with a very nice Salt & Pepper set. He tells me that the base is from a piece of scrap timber, the stem is African Blackwood and the S&P pair is turned from Walnut. It seems a contradiction that anything this nicely finished could be called ‘scrap’ timber. Sean Earls has turned a lovely Yew bowl from a rough-cut plank. The edge of the bowl has maintained the saw marks as a feature. This is a reminder that much of the hard woods were cut in this way. Paddy Finn encourages us to reflect on out turning, with this elegant hand mirror. If you look closely, you will see that Paddy goes to great lengths to keep his tools in good shape. John Duff has turned Christmas into spring with a vase made from a Christmas tree stump. Yes, you read correctly. John may be running low on wood stocks, however he rose to the challenge and this fine vase is what he has come up with. Forget food parcels, its wood parcels, that some of us need in these challenging times. If we are not careful, it will be the legs of the chairs next.
 
Joe O’Neill has presented a family of bowls, fruit or salad, they would look good on any table. As food is for sharing, Frank Maguire has turned a pair of platters. Franks tool work presents crisp lines to highlight a beautiful grain. Brendan Phelan has turned a very well proportioned and finished vase. I suspect that if inspected with a torch or a prying finger that the inside of this vase would impress to the same standard as the outside does. David Sweeney yet again presents a piece of beauty. This Tripod Vase is turned from Laburnum with Ash legs. This looks like a great example of a Catenary Curve (see the May Newsletter). Jonathan Wigham turns a beautiful natural edge burl bowl from Apple. He tells me that it required a lot of superglue and that it was a difficult piece to turn as some of it was soft and other parts, hard as nails. Well-done Jonathan on a fine finished piece. This month, I am choosing Cecil Barrons’ fabulous Wall Plaque for first place. It is turned from Yew with a Laburnum insert. I particularly like the contrast between the turning and the ties, dressing across the natural splitting on the wood.



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Finally the Artistic section. Eight entries, each very different from the next, but each excellent. Sean Earls brings us back to the pre-Euro days with two lovely boxes.One with a schilling, the second with a slightly more recent penny as Heads and Harps. Both boxes display high contrasting natural timbers. Brendan Kelly shows both his turning and decorative skills with a very nice platter with raised centre, while Mike Sims has turned a beautiful burl tea-light. This piece has wonderful colouring that I think would be heighted even more with the warm glow of a candle lighting it. Tommy Hartnett has been busy turning and texturing. He tells me that this bowl is based on a bowl on display at the National Museum. The centre of his Ash bowl is dyed with a gentle purple and flecks of gold & silver. The textured surface is ebonized with gold cream.
Now I don’t know if its my Waterford upbringing, where the ‘large bottle’ is institutional or the length of time since I have enjoyed a pint of plain at a friendly hostelry, but Cecil Barron has hit a note with his artistic entry. Like a good pint, this ensemble is perfection.

My Top 3 of the Artistic Section is an impossible pick between Brendan Phelan, Michael Fay and Colum Murphy. This is yet another case of needing to hold the pieces in order to nitpick imperfections (if there were any) between each. Each of these pieces brings out the geometry that often makes a piece of turning look impossible to the mere mortal turner. Brendan has turned a beautiful spiral gilded vase while Colum has also used gold with very well balanced texturing to create a wonderful bowl. However, I’m calling Michael Fay as this months Artistic winner. For me, this piece shows the beauty of natural spalting. A bowl within a bowl, each with a near spherical shape and each on different planes.



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If this was a football match on the telly, you might be tempted to shout abuse at the ref. I can’t say I’d blame you. As always it is impossible to fully evaluate all the elements that differentiate between fine turnings without getting up close and personal. A big thank you to all who have entered. On one side, you have been busy in the workshop but also you have provided some inspiration for the rest of us. So even if cocooning restrictions are being loosened, don’t forget to help steepen the entry curve for next month.
Stay Safe,
Mark.

Web Master's Comment: On behalf of all members I would like to thank Mark for yet again another great commentary and of course for all his work in organising this competition.

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