Category Archives: Hollow forms


Hollowing(v)   Dennis is making a new round of urns to restock the inventory.  In addition to the urn on the lathe, there are other groups of roughed-out vessels all over the shop–on the floor, in baskets, and upside down on the drying rack.

The photo shows the arm brace and the 1″ diameter boring bar that is needed to hollow a vessel as large as a burial urn.  This one is still very wet wood.

After the initial hollowing, and several months of drying out, Dennis will remount the vessel and turn the walls to the final, even wall thickness of about 1/4″.  He adds threaded inserts and turns a lid from the same wood.

The final stage is sanding and finishing the urn, often with the multi-step patination.

Of course, for the best selection, it is wise to buy a burial urn in advance of the need for it.




New finish available for burial urns


Earlier this summer, Dennis met with Richard Pankratz, a bronze sculptor, to develop a convincing patina on urns made of wood.   The happy result is this finish in aged bronze.

The advantage of the faux bronze urn is that the urn itself is lighter in weight, and the use of pine keeps the urns in a very reasonable price range.  Many customers contact Dennis to find a bio-degradable urn that is still beautiful enough to display at a memorial service.

Dennis will probably use this finish on more turnings done in plain woods.  It does not, however, qualify as a food-safe finish for bowls.

Keepsake Urns

Urn2Web  In the Spring of 2014, Dennis purchased wet blocks of Ambrosia Maple while visiting woodturning friends near Atlanta.  He has carefully dried and hollowed a series of burial urns from this extraordinary wood.  The tops are threaded, so they stay on securely.     Most of these urns will be sold privately to folks who love wood or need a lightweight urn.    It is a nice alternative to storing ashes in plastic boxes in the back of the closet.     Dennis sizes the urns for a mid to large-sized person by measuring the internal volume of each one.

Prices and more photos are available by request:  719-481-8754

Vessels carry a message

Dennis has always chosen his stone inlay petroglyphs around a theme.  Like the Storyteller pots of the Pueblo Indians, these vessels are related, but each one has its own story to tell.  In the group photo, you can see that the Mama Storyteller carries a set of Hawaiian petroglyphs.  Each small pot has its own set, inspiring the viewer to turn the pot, and tell a story.

Dennis will demonstrate stone inlay at the Utah Woodturning Symposium in May.

November visit with Stuart Mortimer

Dennis returned to Grateley, England with his new (woodturner) wife, Kay, to spend a week with his mentor, Stuart Mortimer.  It was the Mortimer goblet with the twisted stem that first lured Dennis into the mysteries of the woodturning craft.   Stuart has continued to invent, refine, and hone the skills of working with spiral hollow forms.  He has both enlarged and reduced the size of his work, and expanded his investigations with spiral turning into other materials–pewter and precious metals.  Stuart set up two lathes in his workshop for Dennis and Kay to practice making spiral hollow forms.skepticalscotsman

The photo illustrates Stuart’s response to some bad noises coming from the Liggett lathes.  While Dennis and Kay turned, hollowed, carved, and sanded, Stuart worked on several of his own projects:  a huge goblet, two burl bowls for a local fundraiser, and photos for a magazine interview.  Neighborhood woodturners came by to pick up turning blanks, and to get help with things like refinishing a guitar.

The shop was filled with forms in various stages of completion.  Kay took several photos of the various ‘still life’ opportunities in the shop, pictured below after some photoshopping.   Looking at Stuart Mortimer’s hollow forms in various stages is something like studying the drawings and studies that lead to paintings by Picasso or Matisse.  The forms have their own charm, in addition to the promise of the final product.


Celtic Knot


Aspen with Malachite inlay 8" tall

Aspen with Malachite inlay 8" tall


Dennis has always been interested in celtic knot decoration.  The challenge with the form was to draw the knot so that there was no visible starting or stopping point.  He then carved the channels for the stone with a dental drill and inlaid the crushed malachite.

This piece was sold by a gallery that also featured jewelry made from turquoise and other semi-precious stones.

Turquoise Inlay


Summer Olympics 9" tall

Summer Olympics 9" tall


Dennis chose to explore using local materials for woodturning when he moved to Colorado nine years ago.  Aspen is a challenging wood for woodturners.   Many times, it lacks the beautiful figure that woodturners value.   Dennis decided to use turquoise–a native mineral in the mountain west–to enhance the forms.

Rock paintings are the inspiration for the Olympic sports figures used on this piece.  To add contrast, Dennis chose a red pipestone for the inlay on the carved figures.  

If you are interested in trying stone inlay, sign up for one of the demonstrations that Dennis offers for local woodturning clubs, or call for coaching:  719-481-8754

Many woodturners use a variation of this carve/inlay technique.  Stephen Hatcher is another woodturner who works with semi-precious stone inlay.  Coincidentally, he was born in Colorado Springs!