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Secret life

Going with the grain

OT  talks with retired optometrist, Basil Bloom, about the works of art he creates with olive trees grown on his land

18 Apr 2018 by Selina Powell

I have always built things. As a child, I started with Meccano, then model planes and rockets. I took woodwork at A-level as an additional subject.

We bought a house in Portugal about 10 years ago. I have a big workshop there and thought I would have a go at woodturning. We have olive trees on the land that I can use to make bowls.

I bought a second-hand lathe on e-bay. I shipped it down to Portugal, started woodturning and realised I had no idea what I was doing. I had chisels flying through the air and hitting the wall. I did a two-day woodturning course in the UK, which was absolutely brilliant and taught me what to do.

"You can take a piece of firewood
wood that would otherwise be burnt
 and you can turn it into something beautiful"

Gift of giving

At one stage I was doing two bowls a week, which is a huge amount. Thank goodness for Christmas. That year I gave away 40 bowls. All of my family and almost everyone I know has a piece of my work. If they don’t like it, they can put it on the fire and it will provide heat for a few moments.

The piece I am most proud of is a Menorah, which is traditionally used during the Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah. It has eight candlesticks, then a ninth one is used to light the other eight. I’m very proud of this because it is an original design. It’s one of the pieces I can’t give away because it is the only piece that my son really likes. I have had one commission, which was for a crucifix and two candles for the children’s alter in a church that my friends go to.

Basil Bloom art work

The never-ending project

I enjoy starting from scratch and putting something together. You can take a piece of firewood – wood that would otherwise be burnt – and you can turn it into something beautiful.

The pleasure is in the making not in the finished piece. We have a load of bowls and pots sitting around here in the house. I look at them and think they are not bad but they could be improved on. As with anything creative, you have to make a decision as to when to stop.

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