How I Create Art - The Build ProcessThe Journey Into DesignWoodworking

Good Design Comes from Graceful Failure

Good Design Comes from Graceful Failure

Segmented wood vaseOne of my favorite pieces I have made is this beetle kill pine vase. It was supposed to be a rendition of the vessel I posted about a few weeks ago. I was trying to go as thin as I could, with as smooth of a transition as I could from the neck to the flange. As I was trying to fair the curve at the neck and trying to get it as thin of a wall as I could, there started to be a wobble, at first I thought it was coming to lose out of the chuck. I reached to turn the lathe off; as the lathe spun down, I could see light peeking through the neck of the vase. Yep, I had turned too thin at the neck, and with a little push, the top popped off.

To say I was pissed was an understatement; the segments to cut and glue up to create the blank had taken a long time. Instead of smashing my failure to bits, which certainly would have felt good, I was determined to save the vase. I worked to fair the top of the curve to smooth it back out and somehow transition it to the inside of the vase.

I know some woodturners don’t care what the inside of their vessels look and feel like so they don’t sand and finish the inside, but if someone is going to stick their finger in my hole, I want it to look and feel good. Therefore, I spent some time turning and sanding the inside of the vessel, so it came to a subtle soft point at the inner top of the rim. I then painted it black to accent the outer shape of the vase.

The overall design came out great, and I love the overall shape, the color of the beetle kill pine, and how the outer rim of the vase transitions to the inside of the base. The black paint creates a nice shadow line for the edge of the rim to disappear into. The failure turned into a happy accident.


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I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

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