Black/White Ash Pair


Black/White Ash Pair
John Jordan tells us about his his black and white piece

Black/White Pair 2007: dyed and bleached ash 330 x 180mm each

Throughout my woodturning career, I have always been interested in, and had an affinity for, black and white pieces. On occasion I like to make a matched pair of pieces in black and white. I have done this since my earliest work and always enjoy doing them in whatever current style of pieces I am making at the time. There’s always a place for some black and white.
I like the obvious contrast, the yin/yang feel of the pieces displayed together. While I tend to like to display them in close together pairs, they can be interesting spaced apart on opposite ends of a shelf or mantle, or even opposite sides of a room. This makes the effect of a pair a bit more subtle. 

There has been more interest in recent years from other turners experimenting with and using black in their work. There are many ways of achieving a black surface, from paint, gesso and dye, to chemical mixes and reactions and burning. These will all give different qualities to the black surface of the wood. I am particularly drawn to the qualities of burned surfaces. I have done a bit of that, and there are some woodturners/woodworkers that do really fantastic surfaces with the torch and further working of the surface after burning.

The black that I use is an alcohol-based leather dye that gives an absolute black with no wood colour showing through. The white is achieved with a two part wood bleach which consists of strong sodium hydroxide (lye) and industrial strength hydrogen peroxide (NOT the pharmacy type). If you use these products, be aware there are health risks, particularly with the bleach. It is evil stuff and will blind if it gets in one’s eyes. Wear the proper gear with good ventilation. I use a matte acrylic spray finish/artist’s fixative. It will leave a nice, flat finish on the textured areas, and the smooth/contrasting areas can be buffed up to a moderate or high shine, which provides a nice finish contrast.


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