Sponge Painted, Rolled Edge Bowl


Sponge Painted, Rolled Edge Bowl
Neil Scobie turns a rolled edge bowl from red cedar and Liz Scobie adds an artistic touch with her sponge painting techniques

Neil Scobie turns a rolled edge bowl from red cedar and Liz Scobie adds an artistic touch with her sponge painting techniques

When I used to turn a lot of bowls for galleries, I would purchase unseasoned timber and rough turn them, so they would season more quickly without cracking. They would still warp and go out of shape, so I would leave them thicker to allow for re-turning of the warping out.
For this project, I have taken a roughed out red cedar bowl (Toona ciliata), which has been in my pile of pre-turned bowls for at least seven or eight years, so it is well and truly seasoned. Generally, roughed blanks should only need to be seasoned for about three months, depending on the timber species.
This painted, rolled edge bowl is a design that we first made and started selling in galleries over two decades ago. It is a classical design that has not dated and has remained popular. The painted edge adds a unique highlight to the timber, which is not only effective but also simple to achieve.
Choose a colour scheme that complements the timber you have used. This project uses cool sea colours to contrast with the warm colours of the Australian red cedar.

Plans and Equipment

• 10mm bowl gouge
• 10mm spindle gouge
• Round skew
• Point tool
• Scroll chuck
• Sea sponge
• Disposable rubber gloves
• Paint palette
• Masking tape 12mm wide
• Oil finish
• Acrylic artist paints  

Turning handy hints
1. Depending on how warped the pre-turned bowl blank is, you can vary the ways of holding it to start turning it back to a true shape. You can use a mandrel or use the chuck straight on the spigot
2. When truing up a warped bowl, secure the handle of the gouge against your hip and hold the gouge shaft firmly on the toolrest, avoiding too much tool bounce

Initial mounting

1. If your rough turned bowl hasn’t moved too much, you might be able to mount the spigot straight into chuck jaws. Alternatively, if this proves unsafe, use a small diameter mandrel in the chuck and place the bowl over the mandrel, with the tailstock centre pressing into the middle of the base, so you can clean up the spigot or cut a new one. True the top inside edge so that you can turn a step to suit large bowl jaws in expansion mode or a jam chuck. This step only needs to be about 10mm wide and deep enough to hold securely

2. Use a round skew chisel to square up the corner of the step you created with the bowl gouge, so the chuck jaws will locate positively

3. Turn the top rim so it is running true. Start to turn the top outer side of the rolled edge by cutting from the top towards the outside of the rim and rolling the gouge down the side. You do not have to achieve the final shape, but it is a good idea to get it close to where the finished shape will be

4. Now turn the bowl around and grip the inside of the bowl with larger size jaws in expansion mode. You could use the tailstock centre to support the bowl if your bowl is a long way from round

5. Using a bowl gouge, true up the outside of the bowl. At this stage, it is just like turning a normal cross grain bowl, so you should cut from the base towards the top. Work the surface of the outside to the drawn shape, while also shaping a temporary spigot on the base

6. Start the bottom side of the roll with either the deep fluted bowl gouge or a spindle gouge, whichever you feel the most comfortable with. You should still be using the bottom half of the gouge, cutting towards the top edge

7. With a trimming gouge, make a shear cut with the vertical, leading edge of the tool. This will give you a really smooth, clean cut surface that will minimise the need for sanding

8. Using a smaller (10mm) spindle gouge, turn a sharp corner where the roll meets the outer edge. This needs to be sharp so that masking tape can be placed right up into the corner

9. Make the shape of the temporary spigot slightly dovetailed to suit your scroll chuck, using a round skew chisel. Again ensure a sharp corner so the chuck jaws will locate accurately. Using the same tool, turn a small ‘V’ in the middle of the spigot, which will be used to place the tailstock centre when turning off the temporary spigot. Sand the outside surface, working up to 400 grit. I find after using the trimming gouge, I usually start sanding with 240 or 320 grit abrasive

10. Now start turning the inside of the bowl, using the bowl gouge with the flute pointing towards the inside. If the blank was warped from drying, the gouge will want to jump around, so try to secure the handle against your hip and the shaft of the gouge solidly against the toolrest. You will have less jumping around if you are able to take a deeper cut on the first pass so that the bevel rubs on a clean cut surface

11. Once you have turned the wall thickness to about 6 or 7mm, take a trim cut with the trimming tool. My trimming tool has a convex grind on the left-hand side so that the bevel will rub on the concave surface of the inside of the bowl. The cutting edge is vertical, giving a shear cut

Top tip
Make sure you make sharp separations between what will become the paint surface and the plain timber. This will make masking the surface much easier and allow you to achieve a sharp line

12. Place the toolrest across the top inside of the bowl to support the tool close to where you are cutting. With a point tool, make a small ‘V’ cut to form a border between the painted roll and the bowl inside. Now sand the inside, either by hand or with a power sanding pad on a drill. Sand to 400 grit

13. Your bowl should look like this and is now ready for painting

Top tip
It is best to leave the temporary spigot on until the painting is completed so that you can sand the surface after the masking tape has been removed

Sponged painted finish

1. Firstly tape the bowl to cover the area you wish to keep clean. Masking tape is very flexible and will go around the edges well. Start by pressing the edge of the masking tape into the groove you have created on both sides of the rolled edge. This will stop the paint running under the edges…

2. … then cover the remainder of the bowl

3. When choosing your colours, select good quality paint with high pigment content. You don’t want to put in the work, only to find your colours fade and change in time. I have used Jo Sonja’s acrylics since I first started painting on timber. These paints have the longevity I am looking for. There are a lot of paint options on the market today but I don’t feel the need to change when these work so well

4. It is helpful to build up a collection of samples of techniques that you can refer back to for guidance and inspiration

5. Select a natural sea sponge for this painting technique. The size and shape of the holes will influence the finished design and texture of the sponged effect, creating different effects…

6. Use a disposable white plastic plate as a paint palette. This can be washed for a while and eventually discarded. Apply the paint to the exposed wood with the sea sponge, adding the two darkest colours
first (in this case, Jo Sonja’s Pthalo Blue and Pthalo Green). This coat will often need to be repeated, depending on the timber, as it may be absorbed into the wood

7. Allow the paint to dry (if you are in a hurry, use a hair dryer). For the next coat, add a smaller amount of Cobalt Blue to the palette, along with a small amount of the original mix. Lightly sponge, allowing some of the original darker colour to peep though

8. Once this layer is dry, add a third coat of Cobalt Blue and finally a coat of Aqua, allowing each coat to dry before adding the next. When the painted finish is completely dry, remove the masking tape and take the bowl back to the lathe for finishing

Painting handy hints
1. Masking tape is a great and inexpensive mask when painting, but it will make the timber tacky if left on for too long. For best results, apply the tape just before painting and remove it within 24 hours
2. Use a slightly damp sponge, NOT wet, and keep the paint dry (don’t add water)
3. For best results, choose a minimum of five paint colours or shades
4. Apply the darkest colour first and work towards the lightest, adding slightly less paint to each layer

Finishing the bowl

1. Insert the bowl back in the chuck and re-sand the surface next to the intersection line of the paint. This may not be necessary, but if it is, now is the time to do this

2. Place a mandrel in the chuck that is curved to suit the inside of the bowl. If it is spinning off centre, take a small cut with a gouge to true it up. Place a piece of foam between the bowl and mandrel and tighten it with the tailstock spindle  placed in the small ‘V’ that you previously turned. Now you can turn away most of the temporary spigot, just leaving a small piece where the tailstock centre is

3. Use a carving gouge or chisel to remove the part that is left, then sand the middle of the spigot to a cleaned surface. The piece is now ready to oil: we use a natural oil sealer over the paint as well as the bare wood. Four coats are applied, one per day, rubbing back with 0000 steel wool between coats.

Your finished bowl might look like this


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