On a recent holiday to the north of Portugal I discovered the art of wood turning. This is not, as far as I know, a traditional Portuguese craft but was, rather, something I found to be the hobby and part time income generator of a British expat, named Robin, who is living there. This lovely gentleman has been turning wood for decades now and he is, I must say, exceptional at it.
Although a form of wood working, wood turning is different in that the tool used to carve the wood, in this case a lathe, is kept stationary whilst the wood is turned around it to create the wood turned effect. I instantly fell in love with the wood turned items Robin had on display in his small gallery in the beautiful village of Covas, about an hour from Porto. Of course, I brought one piece home with me (pictured below) and I have endeavored to discover more about wood turning since.
The art of wood turning dates back as far as Egyptian times and came about after the invention of the two person lathe. This allowed one person to hold the wood whilst the other carven patterns or shapes into the wood using a sharp tool. This hand operated device was replaced by a pedaled lathe in the middle ages, which meant that one craftsman could conduct the entire carving process. With the industrial revolution came a motorized lathe and with it the mass production of wood turned products. Thankfully, there are still artists like Robin who appreciate the superior beauty gained from using a hand operated lathe.
I will certainly be on the look out for more hand turned wooden items in the future. They offer something beautiful, natural and earthy for any home.