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Friday, September 3, 2010

Sea Urchin Ornaments

This month's newest turnings are delicate hanging ornaments, incorporating various sea urchin shells and turned wooden "icicles", or finials. Woodturners have been making ornaments for a long time, and after seeing some at a meeting that fellow turners had made, I decided to have a go at it. So, I purchased a sampling of different shells, and turned some hardwood caps and icicles, which are glued to the shells.
Sputnik Sea Urchin Ornament

The shells are hollow, some being very lightweight and fairly fragile. Probably the most intriguing species of urchin shell is the "Sputnik", shown in this photo.

Although it may appear to be nearly pure white in the photo, the shell actually has subtle violet coloring in the vertical stripes between the "spikes", which are nodes where, I assume, there actually were spines attached to the live animal. The icicle in this example is made of maple that has been dyed deep-purple. This shell is 2 inches in diameter; the total length of the ornament is 61/2 inches. The icicle tapers to less than 1/8 inch in diameter.

These ornaments are very light, weighing less than one ounce; so, they would be ideal for use as Christmas tree decorations (it isn't that time of year already, is it??). Of course, they can be appreciated in a non-holiday setting too.

Green Sea Urchin, Bloodwood Icicle

This piece (left) is a Green Sea Urchin, a really attractive shell, mated to a Bloodwood cap and icicle. This species has hundreds of tiny bumps on the surface of the shell, giving it an interesting texture. The color is superb, and lends itself nicely to a Christmas decoration.

Alphonso Sea Urchin Mushroom


And finally, while not a hanging ornament, this Alphonso Sea Urchin shell mushroom is, well, ornamental. The shell's shape suggests a mushroom cap, and so its new life is to be as a "mantle mushroom". With a turned maple stalk emerging from a gnarly hunk of bark-covered oak (with lichens still attached), it's the perfect whimsical toadstool.

These ornaments are available for purchase at www.timberturner.com.

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