Sunday, 7 August 2011

Potenstein ... ...

It seems my impatience has got the better of me yet again, but it's not as bad as it sounds... ...

The other day I decided I'd make myself a pen / pencil pot for my desk, so I have some where to keep my drawing pens and such like, so of to the shed I went to find a suitable bit of wood, I chose a piece of pear wood (which was a mistake if I'm honest)

I should have realised I'd run into issues later on down the line, but I set about turning the pot, I was going for a more natural look, and by that I mean keeping some bark on the wood, which isn't as easy as I thought it would be.

Here's the finished pot, still mounted on the lathe -

It's meant to have a bit missing from the rim ;-)

Needless to say I was quite pleased with the finished article, it was quite difficult to keep the bark, mainly because it kept chipping, I think I should have mounted the piece slightly differently on the lathe, that way I could have kept a slightly thicker wall to the pot, but hey ho.

Some more pictures -

Front view, I like the way the bark is cracked.

Here's a side on view -

I like the way the grain stands out.

And another -

I think it's quite organic looking :-)

And just to prove it works ;-) here it is complete with pens and such like.

The pens I use most, at the moment.

And that's that, well no it's not, see the pot sat on my desk for a few days and slowly started to crack, this is my fault for not leaving the wood longer to season, it developed a couple of nasty cracks on either side of it, and looked like it was going to split in half, I was a little gutted.

I've been researching ways to stop certain woods (mainly fruit woods) from cracking and warping so much, as it turns out there are a few ways this can be done, some work better than others, so I went for boiling the wood in the end, yes I did say boiling, and you'd be right in thinking a saucepan and a load of water, and a slightly concerned wife ;-)

Here's a couple of pictures of the cracks that developed - 

There's one on each side.

This one is the worst as it goes all the way through.

These pictures were taken after I boiled the pot, which technically should have been done before it was finished, I should have roughed it out, then boiled it, you may also notice a slight colour change, this wasn't from boiling it, it's from the small amount of red food colouring I added to the water. 

While I was reading about boiling wood, I found a small piece on whether it was possible to add food colouring to the water whilst boiling for different effects, as it turns out it is possible :-)

Another picture that shows the worst crack on the outside, and gives a better idea of the colour the pot went.

It's an interesting colour.

The cracks did close right up after boiling the pot, but they came back, but they don't seem to be getting any worse at least. So the pot sat on my desk, and I wondered what to do about it, I like the pot and didn't want to bin it, and that's when I came up with an idea that involved a small drill bit, some thin copper wire and a mattress needle ;-)

Yes I created potenstein muh ha ha ha ha ! 

I've seen similar things done to turned wood before, so I figured this was a good way to save the pot, and maybe make it better than it would be with a load of cracks, so I've kind of made a feature out of the cracks.

I give you potenstein -

Okay so Frankenstein was made up of different bits, but hey.

You'd be surprised how easy it is to sew wood with copper wire and a needle, of course pre-drilling the holes makes life a lot easier. This would be better if I'd used a thicker gauge wire, which I did try, but it kept breaking, my lovely wife suggested I get some thin leather for next time, which I will because I quite like the pot like this, and plan to experiment further with this idea.

Some more pictures of potenstein -

Side view.

The main split.

You can easily see what I've tried to do, the wire is unlikely to prevent further cracking (fingers crossed that there won't actually be any further cracking) but I like the way it looks, the wire is copper and will start to tarnish and go a slight green colour, which might be nice ?

Thanks for reading.

Inspire Me Beautiful


  1. If you don't mind me saying I think it looks better now with the sutures, it was an interesting piece before but now it's a talking point.

  2. this is really lovely. the copper works so well with it. Its too pretty to use for a pen holder!

  3. Every time I visit your blog you've come up some other amazing ideas...I love the effect of potenstein...dare I say it even more than the original??
    You are so clever!!

  4. what a clever way of 'rescuing' your pot! It was a shame it cracked - the grain is beautiful - but you've turned misfortune to your advantage, a happy ending all round (unlike for Frankenstein)

  5. I did post a reply on here yesterday, not shown up for some reason.

    Anyway, thank you for the comments, I was pleased with the finished thing, it is more than it was, so I plan to play around with this idea some more, on the look out for some leather string type stuff for another idea.

    Thanks for reading.

  6. I absolutely adore your blog, I really do. You are so inspiring - I would never have thought of doing this. It's brilliant. Thank you for linking up :)

  7. Thanks for reading :-) and thanks for the comment, it's appreciated.