Troika-Style Pot


Troika-Style Pot:
Dave Springett makes this textured vessel.

Dave Springett makes this textured vessel

I  have always felt honesty of materials is best. If it’s made of wood it should look like wood. Having said that I mainly choose woods for their mechanical properties, such as castello box, rather than their decorative grain pattern. I have spray painted the occasional piece so the shape and form reads without grain pattern interfering, but that’s been about it. Now I have been drawn into wanting to turn a wood piece and to make it look like fired pottery. I have always liked the adventurous and varied designs of Troika pottery (from St Ives, Cornwall), but I have never been able to find a piece that I can afford to buy. As I am a woodturner and not a potter, I thought I would attempt to make a similar piece with the skills I have.
Here’s how I went about the task of creating my own faux Troika. I hope that you will find some of the techniques of value and not be too hard on me.

Information and plans

• 9mm gouge
• 6mm square-end tool ground from HSS stock
• Shelf toolrest – optional
• Several clamps
• Newspaper
• PVA glue
• Two pieces of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) or similar – 165 x 165 x 25mm, planed on one side
• Two pieces of planed wood – one at 160 x 160 x 6mm, one at 75 x 75 x 6mm – you can use MDF as a substitute
• 25mm thick softwood cut to 170mm diameter
• Three small tubes of acrylic paint – Prussian blue, olive green and white or colours of your choice
• Automotive spray paint – a filler/primer and matte white
• Stone-effect spray paint – from large hobby/craft stores
• A large cardboard box – to act as a temporary spray booth

Drawings and how to resize them
To enlarge or reduce the size of drawings right click on the image to download it and then go HERE to watch a video on how to use paper with a grid to do exactly that.

Starting work
Fit the prepared softwood disc centrally and securely to a metal faceplate. Turn the face flat and turn the edges square to that face. Cut a 170mm circle of newspaper. Take each of the sycamore pieces and, on the unplaned side, mark a 165mm diameter circle. Make sure the centre point is clearly marked. Take the
two pieces to the bandsaw and cut out those two marked circles. Each sycamore piece will be turned in the same way. Apply PVA to the face of the softwood disc and the planed surface of the sycamore disc. Press the newspaper against the glued surface of the softwood then push the glued sycamore face onto the newspaper creating a wood/newspaper/wood sandwich.

1. Bring the revolving centre forward pressing it into the marked centre of the sycamore. This will centre the disc and also add pressure while the glue dries overnight

2. Then, when the glue has dried you can turn the edge clean

3. Next, turn the face flat and true, making sure that the turned edge is at 90° to the face. The diameter should be about 165mm and thickness at about 25mm

4. Mark the centre point on the turned face and, with the grain, draw a pencil line across the diameter through the centre point. Using a try square, continue that centreline down the edge on both sides

5. Along that centreline mark a position 6mm in, from the edge towards the centre

6. Take the square-end tool, which has been ground from HSS stock, and mark (using white typist correction fluid) a point 19mm from the cutting edge. This dimension is determined by measuring the exact thickness of the sycamore disc and taking 6mm away. This will ensure that the thickness at the base of the turned disc will be 6mm. Set the square-end tool on a shelf toolrest so that it cuts at centre height. Turn, on the centre side of the marked line, down to the marked depth. Always widen the cut so that the tool is not pulled into the work

7. Replace the shelf toolrest with a conventional toolrest and turn out the interior to the depth marked out by the square-end tool

8. Make sure that the base of the turned interior is perfectly flat. Sand to a finefinish, but make sure that the top edges of the rim remain perfectly square

9. The newspaper/glue joint holding the blank to the softwood disc may now be split. Carefully place an old dinner knife on the joint line and tap it with a hammer. This will open the joint and provide a starting point for wood wedges

10. To prevent damaging the sycamore wood, use wood wedges to fully open the joint line

11. The turned sycamore piece may be pulled away from the softwood faceplate. Set this aside and repeat the process for the second disc

12. It is essential that both discs are turned to the same thickness. This may be judged by holding the first piece against the second which is still held on the softwood faceplate

13. Once both discs have been fully turned, and the newspaper/glue residue has been cleaned off, the internal hollow can be sprayed white using automotive spray paint

14. Before the two turned parts are each cut in half, mark a pencil line at 90° to the pencil centreline. This is simply done using a pencil compass and rule. This second line will help when, later, joining the two parts

15. Now take each piece and bandsaw through the original centreline (with the grain) to produce identical halves. Do not mix those halves

16. The matching halves may now be glued and clamped firmly together Joining the halves. To determine the shape of the joint line between the two halves make a card template. Draw a vertical line down the centre of a piece of card. On that line mark two positions, ‘A’ and ‘B’, which are 150mm apart. Measure the diameter of each half. It should be around 165mm. Yours may be slightly different. Set a pencil compass to half the diameter of one of the half vessels. Place the compass point on ‘A’ and mark a circle. Set a pencil compass to half the diameter of the other half vessel. Place the compass point on ‘B’ and mark a circle. Next, mark a horizontal line through ‘B’. Where that line intersects the circle will be points ‘C’ and ‘D’ (see Fig. 2). Cut the card template along line ‘CD’ around the curve and along the intersection of the two circles. At ‘B’ cut a Vee notch

17. Position the card template on the half vessel. The notch in the template at the base and the curved cutaway at the top make it easy to line up the centreline on the half vessel with that on the template. When the lines coincide, the curved cutaway can be marked at the top. On a bandsaw precisely cut the marked curved joint line

18. Be sure to try the two halves for fit…

19.  … and if the pieces do not fit correctly, simply adjust until the fit is good

20. Make sure the ends of both halves are sanded flat

21. Temporarily fit the halves lining up the marked centrelines. It is wise to check that the top edge will be level. Make adjustments if necessary

22. To strengthen the joint between the two halves, use small toothpicks as dowels. Having laid the temporarily joined halves flat on a work bench, the toothpick dowel positions can be marked

23. Choose a drill marginally larger than the toothpick diameter to leave a little ‘play’ and drill into the marked positions

24. Apply glue to the toothpick dowels and along the joint lines then clamp the two halves together. Clean off any squeezed-out glue

Surface decoration
While the glue is drying, the parts for the surface decoration can be marked and cut out. The precise shape and size will depend upon your joined halves but the dimensions shown in Fig. 4 will act  as a guide.

25. From 6mm thick planed wood (or MDF) cut the shape shown in Fig. Some small adjustments to size may be necessary. Clean up the edges thoroughly

26. From a 75mm square piece of 6mm-thick planed wood, cut as large a circle as possible. Press this disc centrally onto a small wood faceplate and hold using pressure from the tailstock. Turn the edge. The diameter of this disc, for best effect, should just touch points A1, B1 and C1 shown on Fig. 4

27. When these two parts have been cut they may be glued and clamped in place on the vessel’s surface. Make sure that they are carefully positioned so that the gap at the top and around the curved sides is equal

28. When the glue has dried, cut 6mm-wide strips from the offcuts. These can be trimmed to length to create the horizontal decorative strips either side of the wood disc and the five strips set below. Carefully glue these in place. Leave to dry

Spray painting
As I do not spray paint pieces very often, instead of the expense of airbrush equipment and spray booth, I have used automotive spray paint. As a temporary spray booth I used a large cardboard box. Make sure that you are in a well ventilated area or, if the weather is good, work outside when spray painting, Follow the instructions on the can. A primer/filler, usually a buff colour, is used for the first coat. When that had dried I applied a matte white base coat. The textured finish is created using a stone-effect spray paint available from large hobby/craft stores. If you are not happy with the effect, when using the spray for the first time, it can quickly be wiped off and reapplied. Once the stone-effect coat has dried and hardened it is difficult to remove.

Acrylic paint
Relax when applying the acrylic paint. If you do not like what you have done, then once dry, spray over with matte white and begin again.

29. The background colour, olive green, is applied first to the lower level and sides and allowed to dry. The textured surface is then lightly sanded exposing small white dots in the finished stone effect. Apply a thinned olive green wash and this will throw up pale highlights improving the effect

30. The next level can now be painted with a Prussian blue hue. Take care around the horizontal decorative strips

31. Mix the Prussian blue with white to produce a contrasting pale blue. Paint the raised disc and horizontal decorative strips with this mix. Leave to dry

32. You may like to try other forms of vessel using the same technique. Shown here is an experimental piece which I hand painted


Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.