Signing Your Work
So...you've got your project completed, except for one minor detail. It's time to sign your work and show it off! You've spent lots of time turning, sanding and finishing...so don't forget to do a good job with the part that gives you the credit. There are a number of ways in which to sign your work, which we're covering this month. Let's take a look at the options:
Paint and Ink -
The easiest, most cost effective method for signing your work is the use of some type of paint or ink. Felt tip pens, paint pens, and white out applicator pens can all be used. These are simple...all you need to do is use the pen to write your information on the bottom. Felt tip pens are usually best for lighter woods, where they'll be most visible. Paint pens and white out applicator pens are good for darker woods, where a contrasting color will aid in making your information more visible.
Some turners choose to use adhesive stickers on turnings where there is a large enough surface to do so (such as the bottoms of bowls or platters). Remember, however, that these stickers will not last well if the bowl is meant to be used for utility purposes. Stickers are better for display pieces that will be handled more lightly. A variety of shapes and colors can be purchased at craft supply shops, and written on with your choice of pen or paint. For those who want a cleaner, more professional look, stickers can be designed and printed onto sheets on a home computer, or a print shop can provide a wide variety of design choices printed to order for you as well.
Carving is a good choice for ensuring that your signature and/or information will stand the test of time. Many people attempt to carve signatures with rotary tools (such as a dentist's tool or Dremel tool), but these tools can be difficult to control when trying to do such fine, detailed work. Experience will help make things go more smoothly, but an engraving tool will make the work much simpler. An engraving tool works with a vibrating motion, as opposed to a rapid spinning motion. The vibrating motion is much easier to control. An inexpensive engraving tool will do the job...no need for another fancy, expensive piece of equipment to add to the huge pile of expensive tools you already need for wood turning!
Wood burning is another good choice for making your personalization last. Typically, wood burning will work best on more lightly colored woods, but can be used on some dark woods as well. Should you choose to try wood burning, we recommend purchasing a good tool. Inexpensive tools, which do not include temperature controls, can be difficult to work with. While they will work well on some woods, thee results can vary widely. Higher quality models will allow for temperature control, and the ability to interchange tips. When getting started, it will take some practice to determine what temperatures work best for specific situations, and which shapes of tips you will prefer to use. Practice on some scrap pieces of wood before you move on to working on your finished turnings.
Also, here are some additional things you may want to consider when signing your work:
Printed Name -
Consider if you want to print your name on the piece. Writing out your name, as opposed to (or in addition to) singing it will make it easier for someone to identify you as the artist. Remember to make your name legible, but don't be afraid to get creative. Some people will prefer something plain and easily recognizable. Others may prefer to use all upper-case lettering. Play around with different styles until you find one you like
Not all persons will put their actual signature onto the finished piece, but some do choose to do so. A signature adds an extra level of personalization, but may require a little extra practice to achieve should you choose to apply it via carving or burning techniques
Wood Type -
Remember...not everyone is as familiar with wood as you may be. Identifying the type of wood used for the project may come in handy for the person who ends up receiving your piece.
Adding the date to your turning is another option. It's not typically necessary, but is a good idea, particularly if the piece is given to a person for a birthday, anniversary or other special event.
Typically, titles aren't given to most turnings, but many artists choose to use them. A good example: our father recently turned an olivewood pen which he titled "The Jonah Pen". The wood grain on the side of the pen clearly depicted what appeared to be a large fish, mouth wide open, about to swallow a small stick figure in his mouth. Pretty cool! Adding a title can definitely take an interesting piece and make it much better.