The Artists Process

Segmented Vase Design & Construction


The design of a segmented piece of art begins with a shape that is pleasing to the eye. The shape must be balanced in height and width, and the design determines the size of the architectural elements and where they fit within the piece. I am constantly looking for new shapes that I can incorporate into the designs. The types and species of wood must blend together and enhance the overall design. I look for the “Wow!” factor when creating a work of art.




Some of the exotic types of wood that I enjoy using are cocobolo, bubinga, chakta viga, yellow satinwood, bloodwood, purple heart and ebony as well as the more common varieties such as cherry, maple sassafras and mahogany. The selection of woods is very important, because they will be used in their natural color with no stains applied. The colors of each piece are the natural color that God has given to each species.


The next step in creating each vase is a full-size engineered drawing that shows the shape of the designed piece, and the exact size and shape in which to cut and sand each piece of wood so that it fits exactly where it is planned in the design. It is important to over-cut the size of each piece and sand down to the correct measurement. I use calipers that measure down to one one-hundredth of an inch. This level of precision is necessary to achieve the desired end result.


The individual segments are cut based upon whether there will be twelve, which I use the most, sixteen, twenty-four or more in each layer or ring of the vase. The number is determined by the design. The pieces for the focus rings are cut, glued and clamped to squeeze out the excess glue. Some focus rings that are very detailed can take several days to complete as the drying time for the glue slows the process. These focus rings can have over three or four hundred or more pieces of wood.


Once the twelve-piece segmented ring is glued together, it is then glued to the segmented ring that is below it in the design and then turned on the lathe. New segmented layers are added until all are in place. The tools I use are the wood lathe, a table saw, band saw, twelve-inch disc sander, an oscillating spindle sander, random orbital sander, and the many hand tools necessary to turn the wood.


The inside of each piece is finished like the outside, thus adding to the stability of the finished vase. To complete a vase that has walls between one-eighth and three-sixteenths of an inch thick, I make the vase in two pieces. The bottom portion of the vase is turned on the lathe, sanded and finished on the inside. The top portion is turned separately, sanded and finished so that the diameters of each will match exactly. Next, the top and bottom are glued together. Now the finishing can begin on the exterior of the vase.


I prefer to use a semi-gloss lacquer and spray on eight to ten coats. After the lacquer is dry and while the piece is still on the lathe and spinning upwards of 1600 rpm’s, I buff the vase with a mixture of linseed oil and a fine, powdery pumice stone. When the piece is completed, I remove it from the lathe, sign and date it, then list all woods that were used.



Web Hosting Companies