It’s That Time of Year

Every year about this time, or in fact often earlier, we begin work on our Holiday Ornaments. There’s something very satisfying about the start of this project, probably because we realize that Christmas and the Holidays are really within reach.

There are many types of ornaments, but I generally focus on the traditional “globe” ornament with a long icicle and finial top. You dig through the wood you’ve saved for this during the year looking for nicely spalted or figured wood and begin turning a batch of globes.

Bowl of ornament globes

This is about two days work and I have a lot longer to go. Each globe blank is mounted in the lathe and formed and then hollowed through a ½” hole. They need to be hollowed to keep the weight of the finished ornament light enough to not deform the tree branches. The trick is to turn it thin and even, without hollowing right through the side.

Once the globes have been done, work begins on the icicles. This is traditional spindle turning, but on a small scale. I need to wear my magnifying headgear to see the detail, since my eyes aren’t what they used to be.

Maple Ornament Icicle

I also have a special set of smaller tools that allows me to get into the tight transitions and to turn the smaller elements.

These are what the finished ornaments look like.

Spalted sweetgum globe with ebonized oak icicle

Oak burl globe with maple icicle

A New Idea

This year I also had an idea for a new ornament design. However, it takes some time to go from and idea in your head to something that really works well. I must have tried two dozen design modifications to get to something I am happy with.

Here’s what I came up with.

2010 Holiday Ornaments

It’s still a hollow globe, but turned on it’s side. The larger entry hole allows you to see inside, so I extended the icicle to the inside adding a little Christmas tree or other decoration to the top. The larger hole also begged for some additional decoration, so I either add a textured band, to which I add some color or do an inlay of crushed stone.

I’m teaching this to the members of our woodturning club at our next meeting, so I had to work through the process well enough to make sure it was clear enough that our members could go home and make some for their families.

If you want to make one, you can check out my tutorial on our club website at:

http://jaxturners.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Easy-Hollow-Christmas-Ornament.pdf

I’ll be adding these ornaments to the website for sale shortly.

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