Craftsman Angus has reached the turning point

Angus Clyne, originally from Glenuig in Lochaber, is a man of many talents.

Past professions have included fisherman, chef, DJ and busker, but now Angus’ focus is on artistic woodturning from his studio near Pitlochry.

Using a lathe to spin the wood, a roughly chainsawed block of wet wood is mounted and spun at a high speed as Angus shapes it with a selection of gouges and chisels. For larger sculptures, the wooden blocks can often weigh hundreds of kilos.

‘It can take several hours to get a large piece of wood into my workshop and mounted safely on the lathe,’ says Angus.

‘All my wood is local Scottish hardwood – oak, elm, cherry or yew mostly,’ he says. ‘Wood that has been infected with a fungus will often have spectacular colouring with distinctive black lines running through it, so I like to look out for things like that.’

Finding the right tree is half the task. Often people will bring their own wood if a nice tree has fallen nearby, or Angus will swap a finished bowl for a tree.

‘My work almost always comes from windblown trees, or trees that have had to be removed because they are dead or dangerous,’ says Angus.

‘I will then leave the wood outside for a good few weeks to allow it to age and spalt.’

Woodturning can be traced back as far as 1300 BC to ancient Egypt. Then it would have required two people, one to turn the lathe and another to shape the wood. The craft was adopted and improved by the Romans and became widely practiced throughout Italy, Germany and Britain, for both artistic and more practical purposes, such as chair legs and staircase spindles. Nowadays, lathes are motorised.

Once the wood is finished on the lathe, most often a bowl, vessel or sculptural piece, Angus sometimes uses a pyrography machine to burn a pattern into the wood before it is polished and smoothed, then varnished up to ten times with Danish oil.

This process will take up to a week to achieve the high standard of finish seen in his work.

This feature was originally published in 2016.