Our customers are artisans of all stripes. We have among them wood turners, metal workers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, sculptors, luthiers, gourd artists, and many more. It is especially exciting for us to learn of the many ways that artisans and craftspeople come up with to use Grip-All Jaws products.
We invite any of our customers to be featured on our Website. Drop us a line by email and or give us a call and let us know who you are, where you live, and how you use your Grip-All Jaws Holding System. If you like, we will write up a short article and feature clear pictures of your work here on our site.
Here are some of our growing family of customers.
Michael Keller - Lake Chelan, Washington - Carver
While I have never been shy about recommending products that I like or even facing those that don’t work so well with a degree of criticism, I have never offered a posting that was an out-right “product review.”
This posting is a rare exception simply because I have discovered a woodcarver’s tool that I believe to be indispensable. It is the best new tool since I don’t know when. I am speaking of the Grip-All Jaws Tilt Top System. This is a built “hell for stout” holding device that will hold virtually any shaped carving project and allow you to tilt it up for easy, comfortable access. It does not use typical carving screws or clamps. Projects are held securely in place with Pivot Arms and Grip Pins. I am quite sure that you can even hold a bowling ball in there if you really wanted to do such a thing. And this thing is completely portable. You can easily pack it up and take it with you to club meetings or the local picnic grounds.
Michael Keller White Eagle Studios
I was introduced to the Grip-All when I received a newly issued 2010 catalog from Cascade Carver’s Supply . The photo caught my attention and the write-up hooked me. The photo is of the Grip-All holding one of Ron Lunde’s incredible North Coast Masks. I immediately telephoned Cascade and placed an order with Linda (aka Helga Smilegreat). While I was so very anxious to get it, I also worried that I might be disappointed with it. Believe me, there is nothing to be disappointed about. When it arrived, I immediately put it to work with some small 6″ Teddy Bears that I was carving for an upcoming art festival. Even the small odd shape of these Teddy Bears were easily handled by the Grip-All … and it saved my aging hands in the process. Okay, so this thing handled these little Teddy Bears but will it handle something larger? My next project was a deep relief carving of a Native American male. With this project, I had to engage in some serious pounding. No problem. The Grip-All held up to rigorous pounding without any movement at all. Within the first two weeks that I owned this thing I tried just about every application I could think of as I am preparing for the three-day art festival that I mentioned earlier. I found great success, not just success, but GREAT SUCCESS with everything that I did. I have done “whittle-carving” (as Don Mertz calls it), I have done detail work, I have done heavy duty work, and I have worked on some very unique shapes.
I had always wanted to build such a gizmo after seeing the easel type carving table offered by Veritas or the one built and used by Chris Pye. But, I am not a cabinet maker by any stretch and I was not about to attempt to build a Chris Pye type table and I am not wealthy enough to afford the Veritas table. Orbital Holding System The Grip-All is perfect for my work and it is most affordable. The unit is portable so I can easily move it from my carving desk to my carving bench or my stand-up carving stand. In fact, being able to stand at my stand-up bench and work on a relief carving in a tilted up position is a “God-send”… saving my back and neck. I simply secure it to whatever surface that I am using with “C” clamps and I have an instant, stout, work holder without using screws or anything else that has the potential of ruining my work. My ongoing complaint about most work holders is that they have movement or that they “flex” under pressure. This Grip-All is solid as a rock and holds my piece with-out any damage to the carving itself. It holds planks for relief carving, it holds odd shapes, and it holds heavy wood chunks. This thing is “too cool.” By the way, the tilt angle is adjustable as well.
Michael Keller White Eagle Studios
As I have gotten older, I have gotten to the point that I really don’t like to hold any work in my hands. Not only do my hands ache a bit these days but I like to keep my hands out of harm’s way. This tool is an answer to my needs.
The Grip-All Jaws was invented by RP Myers of McCleary, Washington. As RP reflected – “need is the mother of invention.” RP has enjoyed a long career in home design and building. At the same time, he is a sculptor utilizing several media. However wood has been his favorite. When working on wood, as many of us have experienced, RP found himself holding his project and using Kutzall cutters and the like. After a few near misses, he quickly concluded that he needed a good holder for his projects. Typical holders were not a good option as they require screws more often than not and RP’s projects would have been ruined with a screw hole in them. Vices did not work well either. He tells me he even tried sand bags. There was nothing on the market that would meet RP’s requirements. So, he set out to create a good strong holding device for odd shaped pieces. It was obvious to RP that pivot arms and grip pins were the answer. His first creation was similar to the one I am discussing here but it was to be added to your work bench… and it did not tilt. Michael Keller White Eagle Studios This first Grip-All was a good one and it clearly has its applications still. While he created this thing for himself, he thought “why not market this thing to over carvers and crafts people.” After filing for a patent, he took it to shows and enjoyed success but he also received feed-back from carvers that they sure wished that it was portable and that it would tilt. As they say, “the rest is history.” Today RP Myers offers three Grip-All Jaw systems. One, which I can’t wait to try out someday, is a light weight version for smaller work which has been added to a Pana-Vice. This smaller model is called an Orbital Holding System. It is “orbital” as it will completely rotate. It is also something that can be attached about anywhere and will position the work right in front of you.
I urge you to look into the Grip-All Systems and see for yourself. RP tells me that he will be at many woodcarvers’ shows in the Northwest so take in one of these shows and try this thing out. By the way, I don’t sell these things and I am not paid for referrals. I am just excited as heck about these that I want to pass the word on to other carvers. These things are like adding magic to you woodcarving resources.
Keep sharp and be carveful!
Cecile Garrison - Visalia, California - Gourd Artist
ecile Garrison actually grows the gourds that carvers use. They grow on big vines and are bright green. You can see her gourd garden on her web site with the catchy name of Gourds and Roses. Cecile picked up an Orbital Holding System at a gourd show in July at Moses Lake, Wa.
She and her husband Ernie have a twenty acre farm three miles north of Visalia, California in the central San Joaquin Valley. Three acres are devoted to a variety of flower and theme gardens and Cecile’s favorite, “the gourd patches!”
Cecile has a workshop where she turns her home grown gourds into art and a showroom with her finished pieces on display and for sale. She recently had her first showing as an artist at the Jon Ginsburg Gallery in Visalia. Her work is also on display and for sale at Arts Visalia and Pacific Treasures on Main Street.
She often speaks to garden clubs, community organizations and at public events on a wide range of gardening topics but her favorite is “Growing Lagenaria Gourds and turning them into ART!”
Cecile has written several Master Gardener articles for the Visalia Times Delta, the Tulare Advance Register and many other publications. She is currently writing a book From Seeds To Gourds To Art.
She also conducts free gardening/gourd growing classes the first Saturday of every month at 10:00am on the farm. After the garden class she and other gourd artists give demonstrations on tools, dyes, and embellishments used to turn a gourd into a piece of art. The free classes run from April through November and take the students from seeds to gourds to art in one season.
We sort of figure that days are 31 hours long in California so Cecile can find time to do the stuff she does. Did we mention that she is a master gardener with the University of California? She is.
Evidently Cecile, when she is excited or enthusiastic about something, is not one to keep things to herself. She started telling fellow “gourders” about her new way to hold gourds. We are getting calls from all over. Thanks, Cecile. I hope she isn’t offended if we publish the email here but it’s a pretty good one.
I posted a picture [of] it singing the praises of the new vise I bought from RPMeyers at the Moses Lake, Wa Festival for $165.00. It is worth every penny! It holds from a 3″ egg to the 43″ around gourd securely enough to sand, drill, saw, etc. It rotates in all directions. It comes as you see it except you provide the clamps to attach it to any work surface. RP Meyers phone number is 360-708-4677 and I’m sure it’s ringing off the hook! It was so neat meeting the inventor of this great device.
Man, that’s a big gourd!
AlanHil Guitars - Aberdeen, Washington - Luthier
lanHil Guitars may have started in the 1960′s when Alan Richrod got his first guitar. Or it may have started in the mid 1970′s when he bought every book he could get his hands on that had to do with guitar making. Or it may have been as late as 2004 when upon building a dreadnaught acoustic, which Alan describes as a “blatant and shameless rip-off of a Martin D-28″, he established an official label. It’s hard to say but today Alan builds electric and acoustic guitars strictly on a custom basis.
Alan’s wife Hilary is a calligrapher and sketch artist and helped design the label that is used in all acoustic instruments. It features the quote from T.S. Elliot: “You are the music while the music lasts”. She is also the other half of the name.
AlanHil Guitars found the Grip-All Jaws Tilt-Top Portable to be of particular value when working on electric guitars.
“I really like the ability to tilt the project into a convenient angle. That comes in handy for lots of situations like routing. In building a solid body guitar, there is a lot of router work for pickup recesses, electronics bays, bindings, and all that stuff. Some of it you do in jigs or on a router table. But I rout the electronics bays with jigs and a hand held router. But when building a body with a flame maple top, for example I don’t want to cover up the beautiful wood with a pickguard or something. The pickup recesses are routed to a fairly close tolerance to allow the wood to show.”
We couldn’t help but notice that AlanHil’s Tilt-Top Portable is not like any we have seen. Alan says that since it’s holding musical instruments, it needs to be special.
So what are the woods used?
“The top is veneered in cocobolo that came from a very dear architect friend who has passed away. The sides are bird’s eye alder with narra at the corners. The edge is done in maple and purpleheart, and the feet are veneered in maple burl and purpleheart. The whole thing is finished in a wipe-on poly as an experiment. The top is done in guitar lacquer. It’s water base, of course. Oh, and I custom made the support arms out of mahogany and maple.”
It’s almost a piece of furniture.
“I wanted to experiment with the wipe-on poly. Plus there is a flaw in it. While reaming the holes, a bit of the veneer came off and I left it as I sort of liked the idea of it not being perfect. But it still holds any shape guitar I put in it.”
We would think that guitars are largely flat and a bench vise and dogs or a router mat would work for routing or sanding.
“Yeah, you would think that. But the problem with a bench vise is that it’s not very flexible and you can never grip a project in just the right way.”
Alan was a machinist for 13 years and knows how to set up machine tools including CNC machines. He explained that it often takes hours to build and set up a specialized fixture to hold some odd shaped part.
“I can spend a couple of hours making a holding jig for a particular shape guitar, or I can clamp it up in the Grip-All Jaws in 15 seconds and spend the time working on it. Not a tough decision.”
Alan builds electric guitars and quite a few are solid body types.
“You might have a slab of poplar, or alder, or even maple lying around that’s sort of uninteresting. But being a dense wood it’s good for a sold body guitar. I use those for guitars that are going to be painted.”
“I made this one out of maple and it weighs about 10 pounds but it sounds good.”
It’s classified as a baritone guitar. It has a scale that’s a bit longer than standard and is tuned a fifth lower.
“I fell in love with the dark rich sound that this guitar has.”
This guitar features a set of active, single coil pickups by EMG which have, in addition to the extra power, a tone boost circuit built into the tone control.
”I drew this design on piece of paper in the early 1970’s and carried it around all these years. I had a large piece of narra that I had got from the father of my future wife. The wood is nice but it’s really dense and has good tone. I cut out the blank by eye with a hand-held jig saw and shaped it with rasps, chisels, planes, and lots of sandpaper. Then work on it stopped. In 2009 I was doing some recording and really needed a bass. So when digging through stacks of wood in the shop, I stumbled on the 30-year old blank. It was a bit narrow so I split it down the middle and inserted a spline of maple. It turned out to be a powerful instrument with some hot J-bass pickups.”
We never actually planned for the Tilt-Top Portable to used by luthiers but this is just another example of how our customers come up with new ways to use the Grip-All Jaws system.
Quite honestly, we are pleased as pie (or is that punch) and find all the new revelations exciting.
Myrna Grigsby - Montesano, Washington - Gourd Artist
hen we at Grip-All Jaws heard about the gourd society, we were not sure what to make of it. What would one do with gourds? Sure we had seen the arrangements on dinner tables with fall leaves but carving, painting, wood burning?
Myrna Grigsby patiently assured us that we had confused gourds with squash as many do, evidently. Well, we saw what was meant by “gourds” and what amazing things could be done with them. There are tens of thousands of gourd artists across the country and some of the carving, pyrography, and coloration is quite astounding. To see what artistic ability, style, boundless imagination, and tons of skill can do, check out the gourd society links below.
Myrna Grigsby is president of the Washington State Gourd Society and a director of the national society. She invited us to her studio to see her work, (both noun and verb). Here is what Myrna had to say in a recent message to fellow gourders:
My husband recently purchased a new fun “gadget” for me. It is called an Orbital. This thing tilts, swivels, binds every which way and is used for gourds (although you could use it for a number of things). I have rheumatoid arthritis and it was getting harder for me to hang onto a gourd while I cleaned it and burned and carved on it. The inventors demonstrated for me, my husband and another gourd artist, Dynva Todd (Vice-President of The Washington State Gourd Society), how this thing worked. With some apprehension, one of my beautiful, finished gourds was placed in the Orbital and we turned, swiveled, cleaned with a ball attached to a drill and within seconds we all knew this was going to be a winner in the gourd world. It totally frees both of your hands to do what you need to do and there wasn’t a mark on my gourd anywhere! We placed a couple of different sized gourds in the Orbital from a very large one to a very small, thin shelled one and they both fit beautifully. I have to say, this little gizmo is not cheap, however, I have only owned it for a week or so and I have found it to be under priced! As President of The Washington State Gourd Society, Director for The American Gourd Society and member of the Idaho Gourd Society and an artist…I 110% recommend the Orbital and you will know that it is an investment that you will use for many, many years to come!More of Myrna Grigsby’s handiwork
Myrna uses the Grip-All Jaws Orbital to hold gourds while using a drill-driven abrasive ball. She is doing this in the video. What you don’t see is that she really bears down and hogs away the waste material from the inside. The gourd is held tight enough that she can use both hands on the drill.
It’s fascinating to watch her perform the pyrographic work on the outside. The dried gourds are like wood and Myrna uses a fine pen to draw intricate designs and motifs.
Myrna often adds beads and metals to the finished gourds. Some gourds are finished with lacquer or varnish and some are not. Some are lined and some are not. You can see a table filled with her work in the Orbital video.
We are grateful to Myrna for enlightening us as to the art and beauty that can come from the humble calabash. Try doing THAT with a squash!
R.P. Myers - McCleary, Washington - Sculptor, Carver
es, this is the illustrious inventor of the Grip-All Jaws Holding System. Prior to this R.P. taught carving classes, wrote a book on illustration, formed a home design company, carved and sculpted in wood, stone, and bronze, and a host of other things.
R.P. does a lot of carving work with high-speed cutting tools. One tool he especially likes is the chisel-tooth cutting wheel such as made by Arbortech. This tool consists of a wheel with chainsaw teeth or inserted carbide cutters around the periphery. They are used in an angle grinder and spun at up to 10,000 rpm. You can imagine the speed with which this aggressive tool cuts through wood, not to mention the soft, fleshy parts of the operator if control is lost.
R.P. Myers sculpting in burl maple
It was the safety concerns with using that tool that ultimately led to the development of the Grip-All Jaws Holding System. It’s not hard to imagine trying to hold a workpiece and use the Arbortech – or what could happen if you do that.
But here, R.P. is using the Arbortech to carve a bowl from a piece of maple burl. He uses both hands to guide and steer the tool and the work is securely clamped in the prototype of what became the Grip-All Jaws Tilt-Top Portable.
R.P. realized that what was needed was a way to hold a workpiece in a way like we do with our own hands which, when you think about it, are pretty good work holding devices.
R.P. Myers sculpting in burl maple
Here is a mobius form being carved in black walnut. It’s being held firmly in the Grip-all Jaws Orbital Holding System. The carving is being done with a small electric impact chisel and hand chisels.
It can be frustrating working on a curvy shape like this because you have to change positions all the time. That means loosening the work, repositioning, and re-clamping. With the Orbital Holding System you can clamp you work once and reposition it as needed. The Grip-All Jaws Orbital holds your projects firmly and more positively than a regular vise would with it’s rigid jaws.
R.P. Myers uses his own products all the time and continues to come up with new ideas and new ways to hold workpieces firmly, securely, and safely. Rest assured that when new products are developed, you will see them on the pages of this web site.
Lennie Williams - Boise, Idaho - Master carver, Teacher
ennie Williams has been carving wood for more than 25 years. Teaching oneself is fine but Lennie also attended the prestigious Geisler-Moroder carving school in Austria. Situated in the Tyrolian forests, that area has supplied wood for art, construction, and instrument makers since Roman times. The Moroder family has a history of carving that goes back 400 years.
Lennie has worked with noted teacher Nora Hall, famed sculptor Ian Norbury, and Seattle’s own Jay Haavik. She is currently the assistant manager at the Boise, Idaho Woodcraft Store. Click on this link to check for days and times they are open at that store. Lennie also passes her knowledge on by teaching carving classes at the store classroom.
Lennie uses the Tilt-Top Portable in her classes as well as for her own work.
“I have both the Tilt-Top and the Bench Vise model. It’s a great work holding tool.”
This is an Acanthus leaf appliqué in mahogany. The deep relief carving makes it appear thicker than it really is.
Lennie has a real, old-world philosophy about work holding and safety.
“I studied carving in Europe and if you were to hold a piece of work in your hand to carve it, they would think you’re insane. The instructor would stop you immediately. That’s asking for an injury. The Europeans always hold their work separately whether it’s with a carving screw, or a tenon, or in a regular vise. The Grip-All Jaws system does all of that with one work holding tool.”
Indeed, if you look at paintings and drawings from 500 years ago, you see the same work holding devices that are common today. We can’t help but wonder what great masterpieces could have been created had they had the Grip-All Jaws system at the time of the Renaissance.
If there is one thing that Lennie stresses in her classes, it’s safety. We all know that a sharp tool is a safe tool, but if you hold your work securely you can keep your hands out of the danger zone.
This playing otter is carved in Butternut. It’s being held with the short pins that come with the Grip-All Jaws kit.
Lennie does a great deal of three-dimensional carving as well as relief carving as evidenced by the examples here.
This walking lady sculpture is carved in Limewood. Limewood is also known in various parts of the world as Linden, Tilia, and Basswood and has been a favorite of carvers for many centuries.
Lennie is available for commission work as well as teaching the carving classes. If you’re in the Boise area and are interested in any of her work or in taking classes, you can stop by the Woodcraft store. There is a link to that store above. You can also email her at email@example.com.
Don Avery - Rochester, Washington - Wood Supplier
ack off the highway a piece and down the road a bit outside of Rochester Washington you could still drive right past Don Avery’s place and not know it. But from that modest, well-kept home and shop back in the trees is where some of the most beautiful wood in the world comes from. Ok, so it really does grow on trees but Don knows how to expose the natural beauty of these local woods. He spent many years as a logger and retired from that but rather than sitting back and doing nothing, he put his intimate knowledge of trees and the wood they produce to work for himself. It’s a great benefit to those of us who appreciate fine wood. Don says it’s a hobby but the line between hobby and passion is a thin one.
Don doesn’t cut down trees anymore, even for his hobby. Instead, his sources come from salvaged wood and reclaiming previously used wood.
Here is a tiny sample of some of the slabs of maple burl Don has stored away. These are big slices but he has had some that were as tall as he is.
Better yet, check out his Web site UCR Woods. There are lots of examples of the beautiful woods Don has and some interesting tips on drying, sanding, even what tools are “really” used for. He sells spalted and burl woods there as well .
Don has a Tilt-Top Portable. Well, not really a complete Tilt-Top Portable as he modified the bed of it. For “modify” read “replace”. Don built a sled to fit his horizontal saw mill so he could cut burls and other woods into slices. He mounted the Grip-All Jaws vise on one end and uses the other pivot arm in the dog holes. He sets the bed between the rails and slices away. Click on the picture to see a larger version.
If there were any doubt as to how well the Grip-All Jaws would hold under stress, there is an 11hp engine that drives that aggressive saw blade. We wondered if the Grip-All Jaws would hold that kind of force. But we saw this very burl get cut and the blade went right through it! Just like uptown! And Don’s been using this set up for a while and says it works really well.
He also modified the grip pins on his set up. Instead of the PVC coated metal pins, we supplied him with pins of nylon rod. You can probably imagine what would happen if that shark-toothed saw blade hit a metal pin, we would rather not think about it. Don really prefers having the full use and function of all of his limbs, hands and fingers.
He depends on the Grip-All Jaws ability to hold any shape, and the pieces of wood he works on are really any shape. This pile will all become beautiful works of art someday.
He lets many of the pieces of wood sit outside to age and often to spalt. Spalting is a process where bacteria growth creates the beautiful patterns and colors in maples, alders, and other woods.
But Don also has an amazing selection of figured woods. Shown on the right is one set of shelves out of many that hold highly figured blanks – the type that instrument makers might use. This too will show a larger picture if you click on it.
Don lives in the Pacific Northwest and that area is known for some of the most beautifully figured wood in the world. There is quilted maple with figure that looks like a waterfall, pieces so peppered with Birdseye that there is no grain at all but Birdseye. Not to mention gorgeous maples, birches, and alders where the spalting has painted lavish, scenic designs of creams, tans, browns, and blacks.
This one slice is from an old cedar tree that fell into a swamp thousands of years ago. Interestingly enough, it is finished with 220 grit sand paper, up through 320, 400, 600, 800, 1,200, 2,000, grits. Still not content, Don went on to 6,000, 10,000, 12,000, and beyond. After that you get into the realm of rubbing and polishing compounds. You can’t really use rubbing compound on bare wood but Don used sandpapers and sanding cloths to get this lustrous finish – which is really no finish at all. The piece is obviously smooth as glass but the grain depth is spellbinding. Click on the picture for a larger image.
Don Avery is a living, textbook definition of a “real character”. He has more fun than a barrel of monkeys doing the UCR Woods thing. Besides, when you think about it, any “fun” that could be derived from monkeys in a barrel would be, at best, short lived. Nope, Don gets a kick out of working with wood and talking to people in equal measure.
“So do you know what this is?”
He asks as he hands me a round vessel with a flared top like a trumpet bell with a natural, bark edge lip. The bottom flares out like the top and had a bark inclusion that blew out in turning creating a whole near the bottom. “Well, it’s burl maple”, I said with authority.
And with a one-liner delivery that would make Rodney Dangerfield proud, he tells me;
“It’s a self-emptying spittoon.”
That’s what we mean by a real character. Talk to Don for more than a few seconds and you’ll be smiling so help you. And if you need some stunningly beautiful wood, check out Don Avery’s web site. He’ll ship to you but it’s more fun in person, we can attest.
Fred Holder - Snohomish, Washington - Woodturner
red Holder has turned quite a bit of wood in his day. But that’s sort of like saying Ford has built quite a few cars. He lives in Snohomish, Washington with his wife Mildred and has been turning wood since 1988. Mildred uses the Grip-All Jaws system more than Fred does as she does lots of carving. He specializes in hand thread chasing and making the Chinese Ball, however, he continues to experiment with different techniques. He has done quite a bit of segmented work; multi-centered work. He often depends on his trusty Robert Sorby Eccentric Chuck and an Escoulin type ball and socket chuck.
Fred is a busy guy. As if the turning work weren’t enough, he publishes More Woodturning magazine. We invite you to checkout this fine, online publication – we’re sure Fred does as well.
Fred and Mildred have three wood lathes: a Nova DVR 3000, a Vicmarc VL100 evs, and a Oneway 1018, plus a homemade Rose Engine lathe for ornamental turning. Fred has demonstrated woodturning at (ready?)
- The South Puget Sound Chapter of The American Association of Woodturners (AAW)
- The Seattle Chapter of AAW
- The Northwest Washington Woodturners Chapter of the AAW
- The Olympic Peninsula Chapter of AAW
- Woodturners of Olympia Chapter of AAW
- The Northwest Woodturners Chapter of AAW in Oregon
- The Fraser Valley Woodturning Guild
- The Greater Vancouver Woodturners Guild both in Canada
- The American Association of Woodturners Annual Symposium in Tacoma, Washington
- The same syposium in Portland, Oregon
- The Utah Woodturning Symposium in Provo
- The First Northwest Washington Woodturning Symposium-2000 in Everett, Washington
- The Annual Woodcarvers Show in Monroe, Washington, by invitation
- Local schools and Senior Centers – well, we said he was a busy guy! The way we figure it he’ll retire sometime around 130.
He was invited to demonstrate thread chasing and how to turn a Chinese Ball in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales – and don’t forget New Zealand and Australia.
Fred doesn’t neglect the home front as he and Mildred have a woodturners meeting every month at their home. They all create a piece of work every month to stimulate creativity – all the time swapping tips and tricks with each other.
Not content to rest on a tall pile of laurels, Fred is also a writer and has written several articles for American Woodturner, two of which were reprinted in American Woodturner’s Techniques & Projects Booklet. He wrote the “Letter from America” column for Woodturning magazine (in England) for over six years. He has also written a number of feature stories for Woodturning magazine including one on thread chasing, Getting the Thread in the July 1997 issue, which was reprinted in Useful Techniques for Woodturners and one on making the Chinese Ball.
It bears repeating that Fred Holder is a very busy guy and check out his web site at www.morewoodturning.net.
Rob Artman - Clackamas, Oregon - Mask Carver
lright, we’ll admit it. with a name like Artman we can’t help but think of a muscular, broad-chested man in spandex and a cape who flies around the world smiting evil with the super power of his superior artistic ability. “Artman away!”
Comic books aside, Rob Artman is a slight, unassuming man. His gentle nature and skilled hands bring out some of the best in that rich natural canvas we call wood. He works mostly in Northwest woods and carves ornamental and ceremonial masks. Check out his work on his web site at Rob Artman Carving.
We met up with Rob recently at UCR Woods – who is also featured in our User Gallery by the way – as he was on the lookout for some nice material for a new project. He had brought with him a new project he had just finished. And here it is, presented in all its glory for the first time to the world in this, a Grip-All Jaws exclusive.
It’s carved from local, spalted maple. We think it’s maybe Inuit in appearance though we’re unsure if that is actually what Rob had in mind.
Rob works mostly with hand tools and although his tools are made of modern materials such as tool steel, a native carver from 500 years ago would be able to make masks and figures instantly using the same tools. Rob likes to work with adzes, straight and crooked knives and has many of them made for him. There is certainly a satisfaction and Zen-like peacefulness in working wood with fine, sharp hand tools.
As we said, Rob works mostly with Northwest woods but not in any way exclusively. He exhibits works in European Pear and English Lyme wood as well as other spieces. The Native Peoples of the coast often used Port Orford Cedar for masks, boxes, lodges, boats, you name it. It’s soft, stable, easy to work, and finishes nicely. Rob uses it to great effect in much of his work. This Moon mask is carved in Port Orford Cedar. Port Orford Cedar is not a true cedar but actually a species of Cyprus that is native to the southern coast of Oregon and the northern Coast of California. Indeed, there are fossils of a similar species that are found well up into Canada.
We met up with Rob in the winter of 2010 and he talked about how much the Grip-All Jaws helped him. He can hold carving blanks securely and safely and use carving tools with a mallet or by hand. He has a Tilt-Top Portable. We don’t know if he uses an adze with it but it should hold up fine. There is a shot of him using the Tilt-Top on his web site. While you’re there check out some of Rob’s beautiful work.
We at Grip-All Jaws continue to be amazed by the fantastic craftsmanship of our customers.
Stacy Annon - University Place, Washington - Gourd Artist
hen I first saw Stacy Annon’s work it was in a little gallery in Tacoma across from the Tacoma Art Museum, itself right next to Dale Chihuly’s Museum of Glass. Ok, it’s not actually Dale Chihuly’s Museum but it features his work and he sometimes works in the hot shop but you get the idea.
Called BKB & Co. it’s really a fun, high class place run by a couple of really nice ladies. And they have a lot of beautiful, wearable art that’s accessible and affordable.
By the way, there is a place just down the block, and I mean down – watch out for the train – that serves the very best scrambled eggs and bacon IN THE WORLD! He cooks the eggs with a steam wand from an espresso machine. It literally takes 12 seconds for the fluffiest, creamiest scrambled eggs…but I digress.
Stacy had a couple of gourds in the case at BKB and I was looking at them for a long time. They were colorful and smooth and looked very pleasant. That sounds a bit strange but I really got into the shape of the gourds that was symmetrical but not really regular. The colors were vivid and I just really enjoyed them.
Stacy carves, paints, and burns on gourds and many people do but I like the bags, or purses, or carrying cases, or well…gourds you can put things in.
Here is a perfect example. Click on the image to see a larger picture of it. The ginko leaves are hand carved (well, I guess they would be, wouldn’t they) and then the texture is burned in with a “Razertip” wood burning tool. The color is applied with inks or dyes which accounts for the translucent nature of the color.
Stacy says that each leaf can take a half-hour or more to do. Assuming that the pattern goes all the way round the gourd, there has got to be a couple of days just making the leaf design. I had to look twice to notice the tiny dimples in the upper half. they add a subtle but cool dimension to the piece.
But look inside. It looks like some sort of liquid metal or something. I think it looks like the surface of the sun in those pictures from NASA.
The pink edges are done with dyes but Stacy tells me that the lining is tissue paper. At least it starts out as tissue paper. She lays it out flat and applies the color to it. Jackson Pollack is smiling I’m sure. The paint has ground mica in it and that is where the lustre and metallic look comes from.
By the way in the photo at the right Stacy is supporting the paper lining on the Orbital Artists’ Easel. That is a new product developed by Grip-All Jaws. At the time this was written in the Spring of 2011, we were just getting it to market.
Now, ideally, we would like to get Stacy to maybe do a tutorial on this technique for us so we could share it with you. There seems to be more to this that slapping some paint on some paper and stuffing it into a hollow gourd.
Thanks to Stacy Annon for sharing her fine work with us. If you are in Tacoma, down on Pacific Ave., The Museum of Glass is right there, The Tacoma Art Museum is streetside, check out BKB & Co. and look for Stacy’s work. Then stroll down the street for some heavenly scrambled eggs and bacon.
Carol Signore - Green Valley, Arizona - Gourd Artist
vidently, they grow gourds in Arizona, but they must also grow gourd artists. We have quite a number of customers down there and some are featured here in the gallery. Carol Signore is more evidence that they are not only numerous but accomplished artists as well. She lives in the Sonoran Desert – well, actually she lives in a house but it’s in the Sonoran Desert country.
Carol bought the Orbital for her gourd work. We love it when people are happy with Grip-All Jaws and that seems to be the case with Carol:
“Last winter I bought one of your Grip All Jaws vises at the Casa Grande gourd fair. I loved it so much that I called and told you and at your request I promised to send a few pics of me using it. But then I got so busy making gourds (using my vise constantly) that I never got around to doing it. Fortunately for me you didn’t waste a minute when I needed some customer support 2 months after purchasing my vise.
One of the screws was wobbling a bit in the wood base and making it tough to get a solid feel to things. So I wrote asking for a new screw. But you didn’t send one screw … you sent me a whole new base with 3 new screws. I was impressed! My vise was an expensive investment but it has proven in less than a year to be one of the most indispensable tools in my shop. Thanks for a great product and great support.”
Well thank you, Carol. We try to operate Grip-All Jaws so that we would be pleased as customers. We can’t help but notice that all of our customers seem to have really neat, tidy, and organized workspaces. Is there something going on here? Because our personal workspaces are not like that, hmm…
Carol uses a technique that she calls mosaic glazing to finish her gourds. It has to do with using paints and dyes and wash techniques and a clear finish. I can see using this sort of technique for all sorts of things. Her colors evoke the colors of the desert and are layered on and blended from paints and dyes. Carol used to live in Pennsylvania where she was a watercolor artist and that, no doubt, has trained her eye for mixing shade and hue, form and pattern.
We suggest that you check out Carol’s Website and see for yourself the examples of her work. She has a very impressive display of gourds that are painted, carved, dyed, and very finely done. She was an award winner at the 2012 Wuertz Gourd Festival. That’s a pretty big event and that’s some accolade.
We often say that if you like your Grip-All Jaws, tell your friends. We are finding more and more that we don’t need to say that. And we are really proud to have fine artists like Carol Signore to refer to.
Kathleen Robbins - Prescott Valley, Arizona - Multi-Media Artist and Carver
athleen Robbins, like so many artistic type folks has worked in many media and with various techniques. She has done two-dimensional art in oils, pastel, gouache, and watercolor, three dimensional clay sculpture, pyrography, gourd carving – which led to wood carving, relief carving… well we can relate to all of that. Some of us just want to try it all. She has been carving for about 5 years as of 2012. We can appreciate what others do for their art but there is another dimension that opens up when we try something new for ourselves. She often shows her work at the Mountain Artist’s Guild in Prescott, Arizona.
And through it all she has still managed to create for herself a workplace that looks like the cover photo from “Carving Studio Monthly” magazine. It leaves many of us envious. And she shares it with a ’32 Ford Deuce Coupe. Yeah, rub it in why don’t ya’. I can barely see the floor in my shop, although gravity tells me it’s there.
To see any picture in larger format, just click on it.
Kathy mentioned that she had a bit of an accident with a power carver burr while holding a small work piece in one hand and carving on it with the other. Not too serious but she realized that had she held the piece securely in the first place her hand, though she was wearing a glove, would have been out of the line of danger. This is the very reason that Grip-All Jaws was created – safety and secure work holding.
Kathy has the Tilt-top Portable and told us that her husband is eying it as well so she may have to keep her eye on it. Well, Kathy you can always get him one for his birthday or anniversary, or for national This-one-is-mine-so-I-got-you-one-of-your-own day.
But Kathy was adamant about how much she liked her Tilt-Top Portable. However she has bolted it to her workbench which sort of nullifies the whole portable aspect. Nevertheless, this works well for her and that is the real point. We’ll let her tell it:
“I’m very impressed with the Grip-All Portable Bench as it allows me to work hands free. Whether I’m using my power carver, mallet tools, palm tools the holding power of the grips and vise keep my work held in one place until I release the vise. It truly is a wonderful addition to my carving bench and one that if I choose can travel with me to carving workshops. I ordered my Grip-All Jaws Portable Bench on a Monday and had it on Friday of the same week…Great folks to work with…I highly recommend the Grip-All Jaws Portable Carving Bench.”
Aw shucks and thanks, Kathy.
Here is an interesting carving in Cottonwood bark. We have Cottonwood trees here in the Pacific Northwest as well but they are Black Cottonwood and it’s the Fremont Cottonwood in the southwestern U.S.
Holding her work this way, she has the pins farther apart than we might have done. But in this configuration she can hold the work in many different positions without having to reset the grip pins. That’s one of the advantages of the system.
Kathy has lots of gouges and chisels but does most of her work with light power tools like the Foredom Tool.
Here Kathy is working on an Indian Girl standing up in the Grip-All Jaws. She likes a variety of woods for carving. She uses local woods such as Cottonwood Bark, Cottonwood Limb, Aspen, and Juniper in addition to basswood, butternut, poplar, and walnut.
“I like the challenge of turning a dead tree limb or root into a wood spirit, mountain man or Indian carving.”
Kathy stresses that she never cuts a living tree for wood but uses only fallen and dead wood for her work. That’s a good way to do it.
Notice that the grip pins don’t have the sleeves on them. We asked her about that and she said that those are extras that she made and they have clear fuel hose on them. That’s a great way to do it and we encourage people to make their own custom pins. We even have a blog post about how you can do that.
By the way, we love those white, floor-to-ceiling cabinets. Clean, stylish, and lots of storage. Very professional.
We wanted to show some more of Kathy Robbins’ work so here is Roadrunner Pete in Basswood on the left.
This mountain man carving on the right is in Arizona Juniper. I have worked in Juniper, myself and have found it very hard and dense but quite nice to work with.
We would like to send a heartfelt thanks to Kathleen Robbins for her kind words and enthusiasm for the Grip-All Jaws Tilt-Top Portable. It was designed to make a carver’s work easier and safer and it appears that Kathy has that all worked out perfectly. And she told us to include her email address so other carvers can contact her. Sure thing! Happy carving!
Oh, remember when we said that Kathy works in several media. Well, she sent us a shot of a painting of Sunflowers she did in gouache. For the true woodworkers out there, gouache is a watercolor. But unlike regular watercolors that are translucent or transparent, gouache is opaque so that you can put a light color over a dark color and cover it. It’s thick and works sort of like oil paints in that respect. But you get the ease of soap and water cleanup.
But we really, really like this painting. I for one, especially like the sense of filtered sunlight coming through the umbrella.
Thanks again, Kathy and all the best from all of us here at Grip-All Jaws.
Rich Lewis - Naples, Florida - Carver of Moose Antlers
ich Lewis has been carving for many years and is known to the world as Montana Antler Craft. He is not in Montana but actually in Florida. Well, Montana Antler Craft is in Idaho but we think that at least the moose (mooses, meese) may be in Montana. We were a little confused but that’s not hard. They do make a really cool all-weather fire starter.
At any rate, Rich is responsible for one of our most interesting orders. Rich carves moose antlers.
We were able to find out that he does not carve them while still on the moose. Indeed, Moose shed their antlers at the beginning of winter and grow them back in the spring. As a matter of fact, mooses antlers are the fastest growing bone tissue in the entire animal kingdom. I’m sure they’re proud of that.
But we digress.
Rich contacted us recently and asked if we could make a special Grip-All Jaws fixture that could hold moose antlers. It had to be really wide to accomadate something that large.
Now, your average, meadow-variety moose antlers are large but not all that heavy for as big as they are. In addition, Rich needed to move them all around and tilt them and hold them securely for carving with electric carving tools. Sounds like a job for *fanfare* The Grip-All Jaws Orbital Holding System.
So, we went ahead and made him an Orbital Holding System with 17″ long pivot arms. He uses the standard pins but found the long arms to be just what he needed. Here’s what he told us:
My Gripall Jaws have changed the way that I carve. The varying size and shapes of moose antlers makes them a constant challenge. Before discovering the Grip-All system, holding antlers between my chin, the table top, and left elbow was a normal part of the carving process. Now I am able to rotate the antler to any position and approach the piece from different angles. My hands are free and I can easily step back and look at my work. The jaws have actually allowed me to develop several new techniques that would have been impossible before.
On top of the great products they produce, you will not find a company more willing to work with an artist to make sure that they get the tool that is right for their individual needs. I called Gripall Jaws and spoke directly to owner R.P. Myers. After explaining to him what I was doing, he designed a set of custom 17 inch heavy duty jaws that would mount to an orbital system. After sending them, Mr. Myers called to make sure that they were working for me. You can’t ask for better service than that! If your art involves working with any awkward or unusual objects you need to have a set of Grip-All Jaws in your studio. You’ll be happy you did!
Montana Antler Craft
We don’t tell people what to say but, holy (moose) cow are we ever pleased to have them say it. Thank you for the kind words and all the best from all of us at Grip-All Jaws.