May 05, 2018 10:15, submitted by Mike Seltzer (author: Alan Wasserman, photos by Scot Roberge)


CMW had the great pleasure of having Clay Foster as our demonstrator for April 2018. The demonstration involved three segments: 1. A two piece hollow form, 2. multi axis hollow form, and, 3. surface decoration/embellishments.

  1. Two Piece Hollow Form:

We started with a turned up piece-approximate dimensions 8” x 4”. The piece is mounted center-to-center. Create a tenon on both ends. Assure the tenon is of the size where the jaws on the chuck are not extended past the chuck base. This assures, 1. better grip, and 2. less chance of injury by the extended jaws. Shape form as you desire, maintaining some bulk on the bottom of both ends. (Clay mostly uses a pull cut with his 5/8” bowl gouge). No need for a near perfect cut as we are now going to part in half for hollowing then gluing the two halves together. Use a skinny parting tool (1/8”) to part down the center and separate. To avoid burn on the side of your parting tool, open up your cut ever so slightly as you continue parting.

Hollow out the piece still fixed to the chuck. Maintain uniform thinness.

Create a mortise and tenon for the glue up fit. In doing so, assure the union on both ends are flat. Repeat above process for the other separated piece. Test the fit to the other piece as you form the union. The fit should be secure enough for the pieces to stay together but not so tight that you had to bang them together. Before glue up, line up the grain and place a mark accross both pieces. Now apply a bead of medium CA glue and press together using the tail stock. Let glue dry without accelerator.

To clean up glue area, Clay uses a freshly sharpened cabnet scraper with a burr. (side bar: sharpening your cabnet scraper…1. gently slide accross a file to flatten. 2. hone edge with smooth hard steel, 3. bend edge over by 5* to create the burr) One can also finish cut your form, taking very light push cuts. Disguise glue joint with either paining and carving or, Clay’s preference, beading with a beading tool.

Turn off the top end, forming a neck and opening design of your choice.

Reverse jam chuck (Clay uses a PVC pipe that is trued up and edges smooth) and turn off bottom. Saw off remaining nib so there is no grain tear out.

  1. Multi Axis Turning:

Mount a piece (size to your preference) center-to-center and true up. Create a tenon on one end and then fasten to chuck. Create a flat on both sides of the remining ends. Shape vessel to your desire, leaving bulk at the bottom of each end. Looking down at the vessel, mark on each end where an imaginary diagonal crossing the entire vessel would exist. Set tool rest perpendicular to the imaginary diagonal line (of course close as possible to, but not too close so the vessel will not clear when rotating). Now cut each end on this diagonal but not too deep as to eliminate the tenon on the one side or the flat near the tail stock mark point on the other side. Now draw a line from your first mark (see above) accross the center marks from the original center-to-center markings extending through to the other side of each bottom. Remove piece from lathe and re-set, (center-to-center) in the middle (between the original center-to-center marking to the end of the bottom) of the line you just drew. Do so for each end.

Use the new markings as your new “center-to-center” mount.

Now, to balance this piece, place your tool rest parallel to the lathe bed as close to your piece as can, with clearance when rotating. Using a marker pressed down on your tool rest and located on the center of our newly mounted piece, rotate to see if the line is continuous. Keep adjusting the mount along the line you drew (see above) area until you can create a continuous mark around the circumference of the center when your marker is stationary to the tool rest and at the center location of your vessel. Now you are balanced for turning a flat on the center.

While maintaining slower speeds, cut a flat in the center area of your vessel. Assure that you do not go too far to either top or bottom so as to cut into the end of your form. To create additional access towards either end, you should cut away a portion of the bulk you left on the first step. Check continuously so as not to cut into the prior created tenon or the first created tail stock point (as you will need both to remount at the original position). Now use your beading tool to create your beads on the flat previously created. Create enough beads to cover the flat.

Once beading is complete, remount back to the original tenon. Turn down remaining bulk created from the first stage, assuring you do not cut into the newly created flat. Create the top rim and space for a hole for hollowing at your desired design.

Hollow. Remember when hollowing that the flat will create wall thinness irregularity so continuously use your caliper for measuring your wall thinness.

  1. Surface Embellishment:

a. egg shell:

 create a piece of your choice for the embellishment
 painters tape the surface
 cut recess (cutting through the tape) of the area you wish to embellish.  Cut deep enough to approximate thickness of 
 the shell   
 use a clean/dryed egg shell.  Apply yellow wood glue (Titebond) to bottom side of shell and place on area embellishing, pressing down, cracking the shell but maintaining position on the area being embellished.
 Once glue is dry, apply a light sanding with 220 grit to remove all glue residue.
 wait until glue is dry and then paint in acrylic paint color(s) of your choice, using a mix of the color with acrylic medium modeling paste.  When paint is dry, use 220 grit light sanding over shells enough to eliminate any remaining glue evidence yet removing paint color from top of shell.

b. paper crumble:

 use paper pieces that are irregular in shape, tearing off any straight cut edges.
 saturate paper pieces in a mixture (4:1) of yellow wood glue:water.
 lay paper ( pressed and pinched) on area being embellished.
 After dry, you can use acrylic paint color to cover paper.  Allow this first coat to dry.  Then apply a contrasting color of your choice using a “dry brush” process and intended to highlight “pinched” and raised areas of the paper.
 Once dry you can elect to remount on lathe and create “framing” beads on both sides of the embellishment.
 You can leave finished embellishment without any finish or apply a finish to protect the embellishment.  Clay’s choice is to use a flat finish, staying away from any degree of gloss.

c. cut and color:

 create cut groves of your choice.  Clay uses a reciprocating carver with a “v” shape cutter.
 Color entire area with color of your choice.  Clay used white for this demo.
 after paint is dry, use block printing ink of a contrasting color.  Apply a thin layer of contrasting paint to a semi soft     smooth roller and roll over the cut patterns, keeping in mind you do not want the contrasting color to seep into the cut area.

d. burn and fill:

 use open grain wood (like ash, american elm, etc), only, for this process
 use torch with slow movement over the piece being embellished so the scorch covers your work evenly.
 brush burnt area with a brass wire brush, removing all lose burn.
 light sand with 220 grit.  Remove all dust.
 mix acrylic based medium thickness model paste with a color of your choice.
 in small areas at a time, press in the mix and after each spot application, rub off surface with a clean rag.
 after mix is dry, light sand surface with 220 grit.
 remove dust an apply a matte lacquer spray finish.
   The above article was authored by CMW club member Alan Wasserman.

Clay Foster was kind enough to forward some instructions and products lists which are attached. ( See " Files " above )

Contact E-mail for Clay Foster is