Basket Illusion No. 6

Date: June 2019

Honoring Washoe Native American Basket Weaver LOUISA KEYSER

LK 41-42 “Beacon Lights

When I was at the SWAT 2018 Symposium, Jim Adkins gave me a 3/4” wall rough turning that he did in March 24, 2011. It was very generous of him. It was 10 ¾” Diameter and 9 ½” high, end grain with the pith right in the middle so it wrapped a bit in an oval shape with few cracks at the bottom. He intended to make it into L.K. Beacon Lights. So I started to study the work of Louisa Keyser, really an outstanding artist, certainly the best one. Many thanks to Marvin Cohodas for sending me all his research articles on the Native American Basket weavers

Louisa Keyser’s “Beacon Lights” is 16” diameter and 11 ¼” high with something like 30 stitches per inch. She did over 80,000 stitches on this one.


Shaping the outside, planning for the design, beading the outside and cutting the 2 halves, starting to reduce the wall of the top part and beading the inside

With this project, I was reaching the limits of my Nova Comet II and a lot of “Firsts” for me such as working for the first time on a so large end grain of hard maple. But the most important is safety first, and doesn’t matter what power tool I use. In my case here, I will not be in the line of fire to do the inside. Then I got a catch.

I stopped the lathe, checked the chuck, the piece of wood, everything looked alright. I started the lathe again and could hear a very, very tiny difference in the noise of the rotation of the piece of wood. I started even to be more cautious, I was already taking very light cuts. I was approaching the tool and before I touched the wood I heard a big explosion and stopped the lathe. The top part disappeared and the only thing attached to the chuck was the glue jam I did. That threw me off a bit.

I started to think about what happened.  

I had to work on the top to be able to grab it on my chuck and decided to do a glue jam. Knowing the end grain/side grain joint is the worse as far as glue joint strength is concerned, I decided to increase the mix by creating rabbets and use Titebond III glue.

It was fine until the catch. The catch created a torsion shear stress on all the glue areas. The tiny difference in rotation noise that I heard was due to the fact that the glue jam and the top part were getting disconnected and the rotation was enough to complete the disconnection. The top part could not drop because of the rabbets but move towards the tool and BOOOMM!

The choice was to use my 11” diameter maple planks and recreate a top part or to toss out the 4 pieces and finish the bottom part as a bowl. I started recreating the top but did not toss out the 4 pieces … and thought that I could not toss out the 4 pieces so I decided to glue them back together and see if I could get them to turn true enough. This time I used epoxy 30 minutes setting time, 2500 psi strength. I used the same glue jam after cleaning it.

Then cleanup time …

I was lucky, it turn almost true, true enough. I decided also to finish the inside with the hook tool.

Start burning with my new made burning tip and coloring with Faber-Castell PITT artist pens Black and Sanguine.

Some details

Protection of the rim to be glued before spraying the finish

Spraying 4 coats of Krylon Matte Finish and 4 coats of UV Krylon Matte

Gluing the top and bottom parts and then same finish on the outside

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