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"African pots"

I believe that I am maturing as a woodturner, "coming of age" as it were, according to the terminology of a bygone age. Perhaps it is simply that health challenges have caused me to become more aware of my personal energy allocations and I am using them more wisely. Or all of the above!

Whatever the reason, I find myself becoming far more considered in my turning.

Where I used to go "GungHo" after every piece of wood that came my way, diving in, mounting it on my lathe and turning the biggest piece I could from the hunk of wood. Then drying it out, hoping for a good result without any catastrophic cracking and creatively making each piece into something interesting via painting, carving, piercing or other techniques. This is all great and resulted in some super pieces, but I now find myself in a different place.

Experienced wood turners will shake their heads and roll their eyes, when I say that I now actually sketch out the piece that I am trying to achieve. I consider the concept, the shape, the curves, the overall design and then sort through my wood stash to find the piece of wood that best fits the brief.

My work has become intentional, far less random. It feels good and I am loving the results!

My latest piece is a nod to traditional African clay pots, I know that other ethnic peoples produce very similar items, but these are the ones that I know best. These would have been hand coiled from available clay, fired in an open pit and then often inscribed with gorgeous tribal designs.

My vessel is reminiscent of an African Beer Pot, or Ukhamba. A widely and frequently used item, integral to village life and traditions. As my skills as a hollow vessel turner grow, I will attempt more sophisticated pieces that will include lips, more complex shapes, tops, lids and other additions.

I found this paragraph on the "Contemporary African Art" website, I do not agree with its entire content, but the importance of the pots in traditional village and community life sadly do seem to have diminished with the result that beautiful pieces that were once common place are becoming increasingly difficult to find and thus valuable. A good excuse for replicating them in wood!

Sculpted vessels expressing surface design were vehicles for addressing the metaphysical needs of the community. They could be fashioned with representational spirit forms and manipulations, or incised with designs, scribbles and scouring.

These pots were often kept in their own confined, custom built spaces where they were tended and consulted for ritualistic purposes. Some were deliberately broken during ritual ceremonies, while some have endured and been maintained for many generations.

Currently, some traditions have been abandoned and the practice of making ritualistic vessels no longer exists in many communities.

This is a good example of a traditional African Beer Pot or Ukhamba.

I found this photo after turning my large vessel, the similarities are intriguing, clearly Africa is well etched in my soul! Once it has dried I will carve or paint some tribal motifs and then continue to explore more designs in this theme. #woodturned #woodturner #AfricanBeerPot #Ukhamba #lathe #ConsideredDesign

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