Designing a hollow form from wood

Design is a big part when creating a successful looking hollow form. When you design a hollow form from wood there are some things you really should consider.

Let dig into the best practices and the things I think of when I create hollow vessels.

hollow form design

How to design a hollow form from wood

You can just cut a green log just like you would for a wooden bowl but there a few things that you can do to make the hollow form that you are creating a little bit different.

If you start to focus on the actual wood grain, the orientation of the wood, and the different layers you can really start to create some cool hollow forms.

Check out how to cut wood for hollow forms to get a better idea of design when you see how to get the vessels out of a log.

Choosing the wood

First off I use green wood, there are a few reasons for this. For one it is hard to get dried wood the size that you would want when you’re creating a hollow form.

I also enjoy the way the woodcuts green and hollowing I feel is a much better experience. When choosing wood it’s a good idea to find wood with decent size sapwood.

This sapwood if its a different color can allow you to add different areas of the hollow form to stand out.

You also want to use hardwood rather than soft. This should go without saying as most woodturners use hardwoods, my favorite for hollow forms is maple.

Creating a shape

It is a great idea to sketch out your idea. I don’t do this but it’s a great idea to do before you go and create a hollow forms.

It is a lot easier to rough the wood to a round shape to get an idea of what the wood is looking like and to develop your plan.

A great way to get ideas is to look into pottery websites. There are a lot more of these sites than people creating hollow forms from wood.

People have been creating forms and vessels for a very long time. Think of creating naturally flowing curves, this will give it a more pleasing look to the eye.

Just remember art is in the eye of the beholder. Some people love someone’s art and dislike others.

Base of the form

When it comes to the bottom of the hollow form I like to make the size close to the size of the entry of the form but typically it is little bigger. This will give a good flow from the top to the bottom.

Depending on the size of the vessel the foot can get bigger than the entry of the form if I have a large vessel.

I also like to keep the base to it not so thick so that it just props the vessel up a bit to give it more emphasis on the main shape if that makes sense.

The Rule of Thirds

thirds of a hollow form

You most likely have heard of this before in art and form.

I don’t hold to this, and I don’t think you should either, but it will give you a good idea of how to start to shape your hollow forms so that they are pleasing to the eye.

To give a rough idea, in the form above you can see that the piece starts to make a change at roughly 1/3 of the height of the form. This can be done in both directions.

Orienting the wood

sap wood of hollow form

Now when you orient the wood you can create some different looks depending on how you position the wood.

If you already create wooden bowls from the side of the log you can understand the orientation of sapwood and the heartwood of the tree.

It is easier to see this with maple. As you can see in this simple form the sapwood is at the top of the vessel and it gives it a cool look.

This is something you really need to play with and get experience by creating a lot of forms.

Take the time to look at the wood and you will start to find all kinds of ways to make your pieces interesting.

Now get it the shop or studio and start playing with creating some cool forms!

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