Mike Palmer

Mike is taking part in our coming Home is a Feeling show in Faversham on 13th and 14th November.

Describe what you do as a creative.

Turning wooden bowls and hollow forms using hardwoods native to the UK is my idea of fun. I source and convert all my own wood and buy very few prepared blanks. I am very grateful to my friends and neighbours who give their wood so generously.
I am particularly drawn to turn bowls with a natural edge which can look oval, although they are, of course, round. Lately I’ve been exploring hollow forms and using colour to enhance pieces.

Tell us about yourself 

I came to woodturning after a 20-year career as a Weapons Engineer Officer in the Royal Navy and then spent 25 years delivering Project Leadership courses for many global companies around the world. Now I have the time to devote to this fantastic art form.
One of my main pleasures is to figure out how to select and cut the wood so that I make best use of the grain, figure, and the bark.
The wonderful thing about woodturning is that you have to develop your ability by practising, then overcoming the mistakes you inevitably make. No craft skill can be developed unless you have a few disasters, and I have had – and continue to have – many!

How did you begin doing what you do?

I started turning wood over twenty years ago – it has become a wonderful outlet for my enjoyment and creativity. I have always been fascinated by the look and feel of wood, but turning gives me the chance to put this amazing material to use.

What turns on your creativity?

Each piece I make starts with selecting a piece of hardwood, then deciding how to use the type, the grain, the figure and the colour to best effect to convert into an artistic object. Each piece is unique and when I start I don’t always know how it will end up – I never work to a drawing, but sometimes to a rough doodle. The creative juices have to work.
I find the most thrilling stage of any project is when I come to coat the piece with wax-oil or lacquer at the very end – this reveals the colour and figure of the wood in all its glory, but it also emphases any mistakes I have made with the shaping, refining and sanding!

What do you like best about your work?

My work demands total concentration – I don’t like to risk things which are revolving at high speed; sometimes over 1000 revs/minute.
I can lose myself for hours at a time once I get into my workshop. Great work during the lockdowns!

What is the most exciting part of your work at the moment?

During the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 woodturning has been a life saver, keeping me busy and allowing me to experiment creatively.
In 2021 I attended Phil Irons enlightening webinar on using colour; this was an inspiring session and I immediately wanted to try this out to add vibrancy to my hollow forms. I think the effect adds a new dimension to my work

Author: nathalieb