That’s exactly what I intended to do….honest.

The more I turn, the more I notice I have two modes of operation for producing items.
The first mode is the considered approach I know I should take. I sketch some designs in my makers notebook, think about my plan, consider the order to do things in. Then I go to the garage and start work.

This mode is fairly rare.

The second mode is to just go at it with a vague idea of what I want to end up with. Maybe I want to try a technique rather than achieve a specific thing. Basically just put metal to wood and hope for the best.

This mode is much more common.

In either mode there is a reasonable chance that at some point I’ll screw up, probably with a bowl gouge (I really ought to try to learn proper technique) or with a skew (I’ve made lots of pretty spirals down recently finished sections when careless in a cove or end)

And it’s at this point I like to think the things I make get some real character. I call this ‘design by error’. I find it happens to me a lot 🙂

At the point that I need to rectify a mistake, I have to get creative, try things that might not work, experiment with new tools or techniques.

Last night I turned a cup for a cup and ball game. It’s this months assignment from Harry at the HWA. It did not go according to plan. But I ended up with something quite interesting. I tried using my rotary tool to carve out spirals, following roughly the path left by a failed attempt to use my new spiralling tool on a bend.
If I’d had black paint I would have tried colouring the grooves, and even though I didn’t, it has got me thinking about using colour and paint of pieces.

I would like to get good enough to make pieces as intended without screwing them up with mistakes..but if I get that good, I’ll have to remember to try extra creative things. I’m not that concerned that I’ll stop making stupid mistakes that drive design any time soon.
So for the moment I have:

Decking with a ‘making up’ thin centre piece (didn’t measure the wood, stupidly trusted the written size)

Wardrobe doors with handles at different heights (measured second set from wrong point 🙁 so had to put third set at different height again)

Numerous turned items which are somewhat thinner than intended.

But I’m totally happy with all of them! My mistakes are what make them mine, and I’m happy to point out my ‘enforced design decisions’

I’d love to hear other people’s tales of design by error. Post your stories in the comments.

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