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

Basil Bloom

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.