Sunday, March 24, 2019
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Reviving wood-turning

Reviving wood-turning

Joseph Gereige is among the new members at QatART, the handmade community of Qatar. He stands out for his beautiful wood creations made using wood-turning.
Wood-turning is the name given to the craft that turns a block of wood into a desired shape or object. This is done by pinning the block between two spinning points. These points make the wood 'turn' and with the help of specialised chisels, the wood is given the desired shape.
Gereige said that he was always a creative person and his hobbies include cycling, fixing bicycles and making artistic crafts from bicycle parts, photography, and only recently, wood-turning. A civil engineer by profession, he got started two years ago when he wanted to gift a utility knife with a wood handle to a nephew and ended up making it himself.
"I love to create and the creativity kicked in further when my wife gifted me a small wood-turning machine. I created a lot of objects with it such as a small racing car, a hydroplane. But later, I decided to make my own lathe (wood-turning machine), but there were limitations. Wood-turning was slowly turning into a passion, so I decided to go big and I bought my first wood-turning machine, and here I am. I must say I owe it all to my nephew and the encouragement of my wife, and her tolerance for all the dust and the noise I make," he said with a smile.
Wood-turning is a technique that takes years to master and it was the same for Gereige. He spent hours on YouTube, watching instructional videos, from all over the world and all eras.
"I have literally watched every video if I may say from classic Japanese wood-turners and manual wood-turning in China, to some black and white German videos and the most modern videos from the 90s used till today from the USA, Canada."
One also needs to understand the differences between hard wood, soft wood and how to handle them. He said to master the technique, general wood-crafting skills are really helpful, like knowledge about cutting, planing and sanding.
"There are many steps involved in mastering wood-turning, like how to put a wooden piece on the lathe, how to chuck it, which tool to use. Each step requires a different tool and a different skill," he said.
He now creates wooden toys such as spin tops, cars, airplanes, trucks, kitchen utensils like plates, coffee cups and presses, dough-cutters, forks, spoons, bowls, vases and utility items for crocheting, thread bowl, crocheting needles, chandeliers, hanging lights, earrings, bracelets, rings and boxes for these accessories. He hopes to soon start creating musical instruments. It took him almost a year to start feeling confident to work on the lathe."I still feel there is a lot to learn."
He spends 2-3 hours daily on his craft as besides the turning, there are a lot of things to take care of like purchasing wood, tools, designing a new piece, cleaning of the workshop and sharpening tools.
Most of the equipment he uses is bought from Qatar, while some of it is sourced online. He uses different types of wood for different products some of which he imports. He said,"A fine piece of wood like Olive wood, Ash or Beech is the best for kitchen utensils. Olive wood I get from Greece, Beech and Ash I can find from local suppliers. I get the wood in square blocks; I need to cut down the piece in an octagonal shape and to the correct size before I turn it. The wood has to be free from chemicals, cracks and any anomalies."
Being a civil engineer helped him with his hobby."The ability to design, the 3D perception, the durability of the wood and in general the common sense of materials, those were there, but not the turning skills," he said.
Last week was only the second time that Gereige participated at a market but the response has been amazing. Most of his goods start at QR40 and go up to QR1,000."I have already got special requests for plates, coffee cups, colourful tops and toy mice. But I am open to any new stuff. The internet is full of wood-turning pieces. I would love to try new pieces that I haven't done before, this will widen my skills and productivity."
Passion for what he does reflects in everything that he creates."Our jobs, the way of life, sometimes becomes stressful. Creating a new thing with your hands is an escape from reality, it clears your mind. Most of all, it fires the imagination and it's so nice that what I create can draw a smile on the faces of people, both grown-ups and children."
When asked if he draws inspiration from any artist in particular, he said,"The techniques that I have learned from the internet are from some big names in the industry of wood-turning, who have reached the level of being artists, as they went beyond making wooden platters or toys and they created real artistic pieces that went straight to museums and galleries; names like David Ellsworth or Ashly Harwood, and I look up to them."
Gereige is still experimenting with his new-found passion and said that he hopes to be able to create a sounding bowl."When I saw it I was stunned. It is a musical instrument and I am looking forward to turning one," he said.
"I hope to inspire people to start such hobbies. So far, it's a hobby to me. It can't replace work in terms of making a living, but it would be great if what I love doing will become my source of living, but this means complete dedication, which is not possible at the moment."


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