Tuesday, May 31, 2011

plumb from plum...a bob for Bob

The very Bryan that featured here a little while ago turned up on Saturday with a small bag in hand, saying apologetically that he recalled from a previous conversation that I had been known to hang a nut from a piece of string to find a plumb line, and he just couldn't bear it so he made me a bob from plum wood because it seemed to make a sort of visual sense to play with a pun and kit me out with a proper tool at the same time. I think I had told him that my first job on a metal lathe decades ago at Art school was a steel plumb bob, but it had been stolen in the years since. I don't think I mentioned to him that I had since bought a commercial brass one, which does a tolerable job of pointing a string towards the centre of the earth...I may have given him the grubby impression that I was a wanton sort of layabout fellow who picks up any old nut and attaches it without due regard to art, simply to a piece of string and makes a very un-artful sort of perpendicular...and he'd have been right from time to time in getting that impression.

Such is the generosity of the man that I now feel treated and lucky and naughty all at the same time. That's a good feeling when you've done no-one any harm.
The bob itself is from plum tree wood, but the spool is from nectarine, and he went to the trouble of shaping the bob in a salty sort of way- a smooth old-fashioned pair of bilges leading down to the keel that will point towards our Earthly centre. If given the chance to dangle.

In doing that he turned a line on the lathe that is the symbol of the things I care about most mystically...he described intuitively a reflex curve. This curve is at the heart of the violin family of shapes, and it is presented in details taken from all sorts of angles. It is the reconciliation of opposites, the seemless transition from concave to convex, from exterior to interior, aggressive to receptive. From Yin to Yang, from hard to soft. This curve has the capacity to create great visual energy, and it describes a much more satisfying way to get from A to B than simply going forward. It describes my feeble attempts to go from learning to expression, and from assimilation to reconciliation, and from contemplation to growth.
It is also commonly expressed on beautiful hulls. The energy in the line occurs most forcibly when the point of change in the transition is not discernible.
Yes, I know, it is not normal to have such complex feelings about lines. But when have I ever claimed to be normal?


  1. Yes indeed...Mum is right...you are a wonderful kind of man Dad...I love the way you think and this piece made my smile go wide...

    Ps complex feelings rock!

  2. That's a bob for Rob.
    I asked Mary (who's done much more wood turning than I) how you get a spindle that fine without breaking it. Very carefully, she said.

    The quality of a man is reflected in his friends and loved ones. You are blessed.

  3. Thank God for outliers on the Bell curve.