When I meet other woodturners for the first time they sometimes ask me what I make. No matter how many times it happens, it always confounds me. I want to say that I'll make 'anything you want, as long as its round', after the style of Henry Ford's 'any colour you like, so long as its black', but the question makes me feel inadequate because I haven't got that 'single item' speciality that seems to be expected of me.
Making a living from turning is not easy, turners have to be versatile and respond to market forces. As well as actually turning I now spend much of my time teaching woodturning skills and demonstrating to clubs and other interested groups. Some time ago I was recruited by ‘The Woodworker & Woodturner’ magazine to write a series of articles on various aspects of woodturning, design and related matters, and more recently I have also started writing for ‘Woodturning’ magazine. I no longer sell my work at craft fairs, finding these an increasingly uncertain market. Most of my work is now bought directly from me via this website, and I still enjoy making special pieces for commissions. It suits me well that, by-and-large, I’m free to follow my own interests and make whatever I want.
I still feel I’m very much a general turner, who has reached a high level of craftsmanship. I like experimenting with design but I tend naturally towards simplicity. I like simple forms and designs with classical shapes and minimal decoration and I strive for something which I call 'elegance', but please don't ask me to define it. I know it when I achieve it, and I think others also recognise the qualities of design and making which go into my work because it always sells well, and it was considered good enough for me to be invited to join the Register of Professional Turners of the Worshipful Company of Turners of London.
Early in 2008 I was invited by the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain to be one of the main British presenters at the 2009 International Festival of Woodturning. This event is held every two years at Loughborough University, where ten of the best turners from all over the world are invited to give presentations. It is a three day event attended by turners from this country and abroad. More details may be found on the AWGB’s own website.
Occasionally I enter competitions, although I never make items especially for them. So far I have won first prizes in the Craft Supplies shows, and in the international shows at Alexandra Palace and various venues in the Midlands. Sadly these shows have died away as the recession has bitten and companies are no longer able to support shows and competitions of this sort.
When the shows came around I would enter whatever pieces I had that I thought would stand the best chance. I always felt that this was a true test of my work. If I could take a general production piece and still win with it, then it proved to me that my work was (and still is, I hope) of a high quality. This is what the judges said at The International Woodworking Exhibition, Alexandra Palace, London, 2002…
"…a question is often asked as to why some of the ‘plainer’ pieces do so well…the first prize winner proved to be a fairly simple masur birch vase from Bob Chapman…but closer inspection of the work goes to show the positive qualities of superb tooling and finish, and fine sense of shape and form with balance and good flowing curves of fine proportions. These are elements which are very hard to achieve and show the signs of experience and quality."
I have won several other prizes since 2002, most recently taking the First Prize in the Prestige section of the February 2007 competition at the same venue. I think the last of these competitions was held in 2008, but I didn’t enter.
Each piece I make is individually 'signed' with a hand drawn copy of my tree logo, provided that it would not spoil the appearance of the piece. Wherever you see it on this site, clicking it will take you back to the top of the page unless some other action is specified.