Article: Christophe Nancey Demonstration For CMW August 17, 2013

August 22, 2013 17:35, submitted by Tina Collison (author: Bob Gunther, photos by Tina Collison)

CMW Demonstration, August 17, 2013 by Christophe Nancey

Christophe Nancey was born in France in 1961. He discovered woodturning in 1984 when he underwent a period of professional teaching by G. Bidou. He further improved his knowledge by attending courses given by Andre Martel, Michael Hosaluk, and Terry Martin. During the late 1980’s he began experimenting with inlaying metals in wood defects. This interest evolved by the mid 1990’s into many works created by multiple pieces of different woods linked by metal rods and the voids filled with pewter.

Christophe’s search continued with his experimentation of finishing wood using different ways and methods such as burning, texturing, brushing and impregnation of pigments. He has mixed all these techniques into his works which tell stories about nature. His highly original art work is shown in many collections and in international shows and galleries such as SOFA, Del Mano, Maison et Object, and Atelier d’art de France. He has demonstrated at international symposiums and has taught numerous woodturning classes. He demonstrated and taught a hands-on class for CMW in July 2007.

Morning Session:

Christophe began his demo showing several examples of his work. The topic of the morning demo was a ribbon bowl that was turned, carved, and colored using pigments. Also pewter inlays were used. The ribbon bowl is basically a vase shape with a ribbon twisted around the center area but the total being one piece of wood.

He began with an 8”diameter oak log by 12” long with the bark in place. It was placed between centers and shaped with a swept back pointed bowl gouge. The upper and lower portions of the vase shape were turned with the opening at the tailstock end. The center area of the piece was where the ribbon formation would be created. He turned a spigot on the headstock end that would be mounted in the Stronghold chuck. The basic outline of the piece was a gentle flow from the larger, open, tailstock end to the base at the headstock.

The ribbon area was undercut on the top and bottom so that the final form of the ribbon around the vessel was initiated. The undercutting was done using cutting and scraping modes. As the undercutting continued the central ribbon design was further delineated. The top of the piece was hollowed to about 4 inches deep. The spigot was refined using a Bedan tool and sized for the #2 jaws. Most of the turning up to this point was markedly changed or altered with the curving process that will follow. The piece was placed in the jaws and the tailstock brought up to be sure the piece was centered, as it was earlier, between centers. The tailstock was then removed and the remaining stub left on the tailstock end was removed and the tailstock end further hollowed.

At this point the slide show was presented. Christophe showed some of his work and the things that inspired the pieces such as a dragonfly, lichens, flowers, rocks and other aspects of nature. He showed many of his pieces that had been turned, carved, textured and colored. Some showed inlays using pewter.

Christophe then turned to the carving portion of his demo. He began with the Arbortechs. First he had to decide exactly what position the ribbon formation around the vessel would be. All the wood outside the ribbons would be carved away. Before the carving was begun he further turned the base portion of the piece to a smaller diameter and further undercut the lower ribbon form. This also opened up the area in preparation for carving.

Carving was begun using the large Arbortech. Before using this power tool or any of the power carvers on a piece it is advisable to practice on a flat piece of wood. The drawn ribbon outline was developed. Plunge cuts were used as well as side cuts for aggressive wood removal. After carving some detail of the ribbon Christophe did some additional turning to further decrease the diameter of the bowl portion of the piece (that portion that will appear to be passing under the ribbon). This further turning made the ribbon portion more prominent around the piece. Then the smaller Arbortech was used to further detail the ribbon areas. This completed the morning session.

Afternoon Session:

Christophe began the session with carving techniques. He carves while sitting and the piece is held in his lap. Using the Foredom a rotary chisel was employed (Treeline: rotary chisel- series 206). He uses a padded glove to reduce vibration. The rotary chisel deepened the grooves dividing the vessel from the ribbon formation. While removing wood he also shapes the vessel and ribbon surfaces. To go deeper he uses a cutting wheel made by Dremel. Treeline has a similar carbide shaping wheel (#122-0543). Next he used a Saburr burr to further detail the vessel and the ribbon surfaces. (*See the end of this article for websites on where to make purchases.)

At home Christophe dries his piece after carving. He usually uses a microwave for 5 minute or fewer increments. The piece is set outside the microwave to cool before reheating. Another method is boiling in water with salt added (I kilo salt to 10 liters water or 2.2 lbs. salt to 2.6 gallons water). When drying a piece small cracks may appear but these are not a problem because Christophe can inlay pewter into the cracks thus enhancing the appearance of the vessel.

When using the Foredom Christophe rests his thumb on the piece and uses it to stabilize the hand piece. This makes his cuts much more controllable. The outer shape of the ribbon and the vessel were further refined using the Saburr burrs. The extra coarse burr is used on wet wood and the coarse one on dry wood. A small, pointed, conical bit was then used in the Foredom to cut through the back of the ribbon to separate a portion of it from the vessel.

Christophe then drew a spiral design on the outside of the vessel from the top to the bottom passing visually under the ribbon formation. The small Arbortech was used to carve the spiral formation starting at the base of the vessel. The spiral was then cleaned up using a Saburr burr. The shape of the tool (taper) was utilized to form the shape of the spiral. The edge of the open vessel was shaped using a Saburr burr. This produced an open, trumpet shape to the wall at the edge. It also made the wall thickness essentially equal or uniform around the opening.

Texturing was begun using the Dremel saw blade (cutting wheel). Lines were made on the ribbon parallel to the wrap around direction. These were not continuous but interrupted. A small rotary chisel was used to achieve another texture (U45). A random pattern was made in the form of small indentations. Then a fish scale pattern was made using another rotary tool (V45). A small, tapered, pointed tool (modified drill bit) made a series of holes. The deeper one pushes the bit the larger the holes produced. Besides holes, other designs can be made with this tool. A large rotary chisel made a larger textured pattern. Finally a round, ball shaped burr was used. This produced small, crater-like designs.

Next Christophe showed how to use pewter to fill defects such as cracks. A small butane torch (Harbor Freight) was used to melt the pewter rod (50/50 tin/lead) into the crack and smoothed over with a small, thick, pointed, metal spatula. Once inlaid super glue is placed around the inlay and then it is sanded to remove excess metal. Once the pewter is in place and sanded, the area can be textured. For larger defects small metal rods can be placed to bridge the defect thus giving a matrix for the pewter to be melted around and to strengthen the inlay.

Christophe then scorched the piece using a propane torch. After scorching a wire brush was used in the Foredom to remove the blackened material. It was lightly brushed. The object is not to remove all the black - only what is on the surface. The wire brushes have fine wires and flare out when turned in the Foredom tool.

Coloring was then done starting with zinc white followed with cadmium red. The pigments are a powder available in art stores. They are mixed with linseed oil: 30% and turpentine: 70%. Christophe first painted the mixture with no pigment on the entire inside of the vessel. He then painted the ribbon white using the mixture of linseed oil, turpentine, drier (Japan drier - several drops in a small jar of the mixture) and zinc white powder. He highlighted areas using yellow pigment. The vessel was painted with various colors in a somewhat random pattern. This was let dry. It would then be brushed. Other colors could be painted over the previous coat when it is dry. It would then be again brushed when dry. The final finish would be one coat of beeswax.

This completed an excellent and informative demo. A DVD will be available in the Club library in October 2013. Submitted by Bob Gunther.

*Roto Chisel item # CT 102 profile “B” from

*Set of 4 Saburr Tooth Carbide burrs item # 259500 from

*Single Saburr Tooth Carbide burr item # 259502 from