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50 years ago yesterday

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  • 50 years ago yesterday

    George Lailey was "the Last Bowlturner"



    He made wooden bowls on a foot powered lathe the same way they had been made in medieval times. He died 50 years ago yesterday aged 89.

    He forged all his own turning tools which are kept with his lathe at the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading. He could turn nests of bowls, one cut inside the other and get 4 bowls out of one block of wood. 30 years after his death I saw those tools, learned to forge copies of them and then to turn bowls.

    For about 10 years I was the only pole lathe bowlturner. After demonstrating and showing lots of people how it is done there are now plenty of people who can turn a few bowls and the craft is safe for the future.

    I spent yesterday turning a very special big nest of bowls as a kind of tribute. I don't do many big nests any more but it was really a very good experience.



    and this is alongside one of Lailey's bowls



    My wife Nicola did a video which is on youtube.

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=JIgElQwMJpY
    Last edited by robin wood; 16-12-2008, 11:59 PM.
    http://www.robin-wood.co.uk

  • #2
    they are lovely. really like the pattern of the wood giving it that kind of mottled look.

    Well done and keep on turning

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    • #3
      Thatt is awsome. the patterns are cool.
      "You've Got to Keep Your Mind Wide Open" - AnnaSophia Robb
      my Folksy shop Goldy'sclearoutblog debaynewebdesign


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      • #4
        What a great tribute to one of your heros.

        At first glance I thought that the pattern in the wood was actually a leaf design!
        Auntynet

        Step-daughter's website selling hand dyed sock yarns www.knotanotherknitter.com




        ~ * ~ * ~ Of all the things I've ever lost, I miss my mind the most! ~ * ~ * ~

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        • #5
          Beautiful bowls - you'll be keeping those.
          ElaineJ soap and other stuff
          website
          blog

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          • #6
            Lovely! I just want to touch them!

            Linda

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            • #7
              Totally awesome, Robin: Wonderful to have that video (all excellent productions) and creating the rare beauty of bowl sets like that must be sooo rewarding - looked like a struggle to start with, but knowing it gets easier must help (and although it looks like hard work, it also looks far safer than a motorised lathe)!

              I've known four uber-craftsmen who've passed on, but left no one to pass on their skills: it's great to see that people can finally make good records of these crafts for others to share.

              The power-hammer made me laugh! Crazy thing looks alive!

              Some videos explaining the tools you made (what each is for and which shapes work best etc.) would complete the record...

              When my boys are old enough to weild a hammer, we'll be trying to follow your footsteps.

              Thank you for sharing all that you have.
              If I ever make anything good enough to sell, I'll want to keep it!

              http://mines.lumpylumpy.com/Electron...xNet/index.php

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              • #8
                Thanks for all the nice comments. If you have looked at the other vids you'll hopefully have seen that they are all my wife Nicola's work. This is her research http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VmKjvhQ4IHg
                We are both passionate about our craft skills heritage and about inspiring others to make things instead of watching the TV.
                http://www.robin-wood.co.uk

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                • #9
                  That's fantastic, what a wonderful skill that you've kept alive. I always feel very humble and amateurish in the company of such amazing talents as yours and others on this forum.
                  "Human beings, who are almost remarkable in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so" - Douglas Adams


                  Website: www.janscardsandcrafts.co.uk
                  Blog: http://janscardscraftsandmusings.blogspot.com/
                  Twitter: http://twitter.com/JanJackman
                  Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?...6759167?ref=nf

                  Independent Stampin' Up! Demonstrator

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                  • #10
                    A brilliant thread, thanks so much. Oh my god, he looks like my dad AND I live in Reading ! How Spooky. I've been meaning to go to the Rural Life museum for ages and you've given me a kick up the bum to go.

                    I love your bowls and it's so lovely that you are keeping such an important skill alive
                    Laurie


                    www.23beechhill.co.uk

                    http://23beechhill.blogspot.com

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                    • #11
                      Its good that someone like you loved the old skills enough to keep them alive, and Im sure many will agree with me on that.
                      I missed my chance to do that in the 70s when I was restoreing an Alvis car, the carbs were wrecked, but someone said take them to old George. I did, a man in his 80s with a double garage full of engineering gear, he looked at them, laughed then said "come back in a week"
                      1 week later, he presented me with a pair of twin carbs, brad new, made of turned brass, highly polished, when we put them on the car it fired up 3rd time and run realy sweet ever after, the cost quote " take me for a ride when you get it on the road"
                      sadly 6 months later when it was road legal old george had died, such a loss of a very skilled man

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                      • #12
                        Such beautiful bowls and what a lovely story

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                        • #13
                          Wonderful bowls and such an interesting video. It's amazing what you can do with the old methods, and great to watch.
                          I liked the spoon making ones as well.
                          Urbtaf - Some of these old fellas are very highly skilled, it's a shame that computers have taken over engineering nowadays. My BIL has two old avis cars -1951 and 1953 which he is planning on restoring when he retires in a few years.

                          Melanie

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by silvermaid View Post
                            Wonderful bowls and such an interesting video. It's amazing what you can do with the old methods, and great to watch.
                            I liked the spoon making ones as well.
                            Urbtaf - Some of these old fellas are very highly skilled, it's a shame that computers have taken over engineering nowadays. My BIL has two old avis cars -1951 and 1953 which he is planning on restoring when he retires in a few years.

                            Melanie
                            Does he want a 1973 marlin roadster to play with, all bits included. I cant fit in the seat anymore (thanks to auntynets cooking) and it depreses me whenever I look at it

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                            • #15
                              I'm not sure that he will fit either, he's 6ft tall and not tiny. I will ask him when I next see him though. He has a Austin Healy that he takes round to the classic shows, and his son has a 28year old spitfire and a Lotus Elise so they do like their sports cars.

                              Melanie

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