Sally Burnett, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, UK

I am a designer-maker in green wood based in the rural countryside close to Manchester in the UK, creating bespoke decorative vessels for galleries, collectors, architects and interior designers.

I initially trained in 3D design and for many years specialised in the design and manufacture of hand blown glass vessels and panels and large ceramic tile installations, for both private and commercial clients. Six years ago, I was given a lathe by a friend and that was the start of my passion for making in wood.

Using mainly English native green timber, I create distinctive decorative vessels often with wide tops and small bases, with distinctive elegant curves.  They are usually rich in texture created with pyrography and carving, often embellished with acrylic colour and silver leaf. The surface of my Corvus Nero Collection on first glance could be fine porcelain but closer examination reveals the ghost of the grain, the warmth of the surface and the detailed texture.

In 2015 I was the recipient of a Bursary from the Worshipful Company of Turners which enabled me to spend time working with Jacques Vesery, it was an amazing opportunity. That year I was also invited to participate in the UK Crafts Council ‘Hothouse’ scheme for emerging makers and this encouraged me to take the decision to go from a hobby turner to a full-time maker in wood.

I have a strong design background and that is reflected in my demonstrations, be it an understanding/recognition of good form, incorporating decoration that compliments and enhances the overall piece or the importance of creating movement within a form. Conveying these principals is important, especially giving confidence to others to consider themselves creative, thus empowering them to feel confident in their own work. The joy of “playing” to experiment and learn is a major part of my passion for making. I hope to encourage others to pursue and perfect new techniques, to learn from their failures and to be proud of their achievements.

Demos

Corvus Nero Collection Open Forms 
Sally’s background in design and ceramics and formal art college training has impacted on both how she approaches her making and the forms, many with an almost porcelain like finish, that she chooses to make.
Creating an elegant curve and proportional balance with a wide top and small base can be tricky but she will demonstrate some of the simple techniques that she uses to do just that with her ‘green’ end grain vessels.
This demo will cover the selection of timber, consistent turning thickness, a stepped hollowing method using a bowl gouge for the final cut and rough turning as opposed to turning green to the final finish.
The methods used to reduce movement when drying and the many different drying techniques available to turners. Turning thin walled vessels from green wood is tremendous fun and hopefully this will give you the encouragement and incentive to have a go too.
Design and Decorative Techniques
The Corvus Nero Collection uses several simple decorative processes and Sally will show you how easy it is to combine these processes and technique to create unique, rich, dynamic surfaces. It is important to understand these decorative processes as each one, gives you the maker, choices which will all impact on both your design and ultimately, the finished piece.
The first process will be bleaching the wood safely and understanding the impact these chemicals can have on the surface structure of the wood. Pyrography is often used to embellish the surface with texture but this time it is used more as a carving tool. The choices of machine and tips will be explored as well as incorporating the use of a micro drill for additional texture.
Good decoration which is in balance with the form is about choices, planning, experimenting and having fun! We will explore some of those choices, give you more confidence in what you do and enable you to use them on your own pieces.
Gilding as Surface Enhancement
The range of metal leaf available today is huge – gold leaf, silver leaf, imitation and variegated leaf – Sally will explore the types and colours available and how you can use them to enhance the surface of your work.
This session is very much about providing you with enough basic information to confidently start to gild your work. You will understand the uses for both loose and transfer leaf, the different types of size, basic tools and how to use them.
Metal leaf applied over surfaces textured with pyrography and carving can be stunning. Surface preparation is the key though as gilding will quickly show any flaws in your original surface finish. Gilding can be combined with airbrushing and acrylic colour to create subtle differences of shade.
Durability is always a concern and Sally will share the many different ways to seal your finished work.