It rarely happens that a project comes out just right. Even if you are pleased with the result, even proud of it, there is usually that reservation. It could have been better. That wasn't quite how you had visualised it. There was that defect in the wood that you didn't anticipate and couldn't do anything about. There was that technical fault - shouldn't have done that - which you couldn't eliminate. The profile wasn't quite right, the tool markings, the finish. And you think, next time I'll do better. Next time I'll get it right.
But occasionally, very occasionally, you think, that is just it. You can't get better than that. And that happened today. I'll show you.
You may not like it. It may not be to your taste or your style. But for me, this was one of the best things I have ever turned.
It is chestnut, which I turned green in April. It was a crutch piece which I knew would give not just interesting grain patterns, but stress wood, and, I guessed, some interesting bark inclusions. The rough turning did reveal some, and because I turned it very thin, there was no cracking.
Today i put it back in the lathe for finishing - which essentially means sanding, in three stages - the inside, the outside and the base.
It just went beautifully. I waxed it with a light penetrating wax which I was afraid might darken the colour - but didn't.
So I am left with a dish with an ogee profile, exactly right. Thin, but with a thinness which is even throughout. The figuring is subtle, but superb. The pictures don't do it justice.
The grain swirls gently without being contorted. The centres are pronounced, without being dominant. The colour gradient from heart to bark is gradual but breaking into uneven zones which are offset by small but dramatic bark inclusions. Then there are the flares - the stress wood which branching always brings. It was relatively understated, just right.
So here is perfection? Is this exactly what I wanted to achieve? I thought so. And I thought here is a dish I can look at time and again and always see something new. Except as I was looking and admiring for the umpteenth time I spotted it - tiny and slight, but an imperfection. Almost certainly invisible to anybody else, but one I shall always see. I guess nothing is perfect!