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Here are the winners and entries for the June online 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.


The restrictions continue however there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. Lets hope it’s not an oncoming train. June has hit us and while the weather is still very good, we are seeing a little less sun and therefore needn’t feel guilty about retiring to the shed for some more turning.


The beginners section this month has been well represented. John O’Neill has turned a very nice vase. While I have to admit not being overly keen on much in the way of colouring, I really like the smooth matt finish on the inside, which contrasts with the beautiful natural spalting of the beech. The proportions and crisp line of the vase wall stand out. Ronnie Butler has unlocked the secret of the ring, with this shallow bowl. A trip to his locksmith (pre-lockdown) bagged him a hand full of brass shavings. The result is a very attractive piece indeed. Michael Quinn blows us away with this cannon. I am taken by the choice of woods. They provide for a very nice colour contrast. Each component is turned and each has its own techniques. This piece is a great project to help hone many of the elements of wood turning. What would really top this off would be a pyramid of cannon balls stacked to the side. Now that would be a challenge. Mike Sims takes my first choice this month. His tiered box is very elegant. The closed box, in itself looks very well, with a smooth matt finish, however it’s when we get to see the inside that the turning really stands out. The attention to inside and outside diameters and the beading at the neck of the upper tray, each adds to the fine turning of this piece.



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This months experienced entries sees Brendan Kelly brighten up the house with some summer flowers in a vase. The vase is smooth finished and well proportioned. The flowers provide the colour with a very natural looking texture. I suggest that the natural look is harder to achieve that may appear at first sight. Vinny Whelan will brighten our evenings up with his lamp. It is a solid specimen of spalted beech. Sean Earls has turned a shallow sycamore bowl with parallel sidewalls. I like the beaded inner rim and the finish applied to the wood. This month it is John Dorans Bowl that stands out for me. The grain is very nice and the bowl would look great on any table.

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In the advanced section, Joe O’Neill presents a selection of pens. The variety of colours, styles and profiles give us a great reminder of the options available when turning pens. This entry could be a reminder that when lockdown is over, Joe will be running another pen masterclass, or else, it might be preparation for an imminent autobiography. What a read that would be!
John Duff, presents a very nice trio of candle sticks. If you haven’t tried your hand at turning a set like this, it is a well worthwhile exercise. Proportioning the height is the easy bit, however turning equally matched profiles at different lengths takes practice. Paddy Finn is hanging with the birds. Any bird would be happy to call this home. It’s a great combination of woods, interesting grain patterns and warm colouration. Last month, I joked that if the lockdown continued, we might end up cutting the legs off chairs so that we didn’t run out of turning stock. Well Cecil Barron has gone a step further, five miniature turnings made from bone. These pieces remind me of something from an archaeological museum. I bet he didn’t resort to the 2 inch roughing gouge.
Brendan Phelan has turned an urn. This piece combines a classical shape with contrasting wood colours while highlighting the interesting grain patterns. The inset centre of the lid as an alternative to a finial gives this piece a far more practical look, rather than simply ornamental. This month’s entry from Jonathon Wigham joins his previous entries in the section ‘beautiful woods’. Whether Jonathon spends hours choosing his raw material or simply has an eye for picking out interesting cuts, the result is a stunning pattern. Over the last couple of months reviewing the competition entries, one of my take away tips has been to let the wood do the talking, concentrate on the finish rather than lots of fancy details. It is at this point that I am glad that I am typing my report rather than speaking it. David Sweeney has turned a dodecohedron lamp. Made from pine and walnut, this piece is one of those feats of engineering that makes the mind boggle.


Michael Fay takes top place this month. When I look at this piece, I jump between the choice of wood, the precision cuts and delicate touch required when there are exposed corners rotating at speed on the lathe. When your eye is drawn to the lid and inside of the box, it is easy to miss that it sits on four toes, rather than two feet.




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The artistic section has kept me busy this month. Partly due to the number of entries, but mostly due to the quality and variety of pieces. Sean Ryan has turned two pieces in miniature. The first is a vase with flowers and the second is a delicate table on three feet. This looks exquisite; the top is detailed with inlay and a high gloss almost French polished finish typical of a full size table of its era. Sean Earls, helps us navigate the troubled waters we find ourselves in, with a light house and pair of port and starboard candles on natural edged boats. Sean tells me that the wood is some birch from the firewood pile. Mike Sims may be following the lead of others by preparing for his autobiography. This highly decorative pen with inset Celtic rings looks like it would add to the pleasure of writing.
Frank Maguire has been motoring along with his Model-T, although he has opted for an attractive two tone, rather than the black that Henry Ford offered. Cecil Barron has turned a trio of nested bowls with a lid. Maybe you may argue that one is a box, but either way I’m sure we will agree that the wood choice and turning are top class.
Brendan Phelan has turned a fine vase with inset rings. As can be expected from Brendan, the finish is smooth and crisp. In my opinion Brendan has a subtle style that doesn’t over do the embellishments, but rather leaves the wood do the talking. He reminds me of a theatre stage lighting designer who once told me that when the audience started to notice his work, he knew it was time to turn it down. Brendan Kelly has turned a very nice pedestal box with finial lid. In contrast to some of his previous entries of modern design, this piece appears to have come from his antiquities repertoire.  

My final two are Colum Murphy and Jack Kearney. In my opinion both of these pieces have an element of fun in them. Column hides the complexity of turning spheres behind the charming face of a barn owl. The hats have an amazing ability to change the creature from undertaker to artist to convent school pupil. Each with a somehow French feel to them. I also like the way that the head can rotate in a similar manner to an owl in the wild. On the other hand Jack finds brightness in what should be a macabre image of three witches. Of note is the wood chosen for the head, a contrasting sapwood, and hardwood mix. Each of the witches appears to have an individual character, created by the differing shape and sizes of their heads and also the choice of eye size. So just like an Owl sitting on the fence or the riddles of Macbeths witches, I will pose two winning scenarios. Colum has turned a wonderful piece with not much room for error but Jack has turned a piece that I just love looking at. ……..Your Call!



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The entries this month have given me much food for thought. I like that many of the pieces are small and would be quite suitable for even a modest lathe. I also noticed that many of the entries were accompanied by coins as a way to indicate the size of the piece. I cant help wondering though, if this has anything to do with the fact that we have all been using far less cash these days and maybe the odd Euro is sitting on a sideboard rather than in our pockets.
I am looking forward to seeing what you have in store for me in July. As always it is a pleasure to take some time admiring the fruits of your endeavours.

Stay Safe,
Mark.

Web Master's Comment: 

Another great commentry from Mark. On behalf of all members I would like to thank Mark for all his work in organising these competitions. He has kindly agreed to do it all again next month.

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