Posts Tagged ‘neal brand’

Greetings Fellow Spindlers!

I hope everyone enjoyed a warm fall; here, we are trying to eke out every last day Nature will gift us … I love to be outdoors.

I want to announce a SpindleTalk page, located under the top Navigation (the side bar updates blog posts, but not web-pages … and I’ve yet to find a solution)

Jason Riley, of Riley Wood and Fiber Art, was kind enough to grant me an interview; I’ve done my best to describe my experience when I ordered a spindle from him some time ago, as well as his work. For those that don’t know me quite well, “customer service” or just respect and kindness goes an awful long way with me.

For those who need or want a custom spindle, be it changing the length or width, or aiming for a target weight — whatever it be, if it’s possible, my bets on Mr. Riley! :)

And, if it’s not, in the short time (maybe 6 or so months since I stumbled into his shop) I’ve known him…I can say, with a degree of certainty, he will be honest; and, depending on your request, perhaps offer alternatives.

Please take time to read his “SpindleTalk” page and be sure to check the photos at the bottom or click on the links that will open up his Etsy shop in a new browser page!


Coming soon…

A few “new stuff” blogs:

  • new items conceived by makers that never cease to amaze me with his/her new ideas whether it be an amazing new spindle design, ergonomic tools that make fiber arts more accessible and enjoyable for those with and without limitations
  • new makers on the scene. Perhaps not all that “new,” but his/her work is now recognized on a growing if not larger scale!
  • If time (though I suspect I might need to put off until at least next month) some items and wood that have been floating around, yet always seem new to me each time I see a slight variation in design…or a new wood! The type of “new stuff” that makes you fall in love with a wood you thought you hated; or a spindle type that makes similar styles feel foreign; perhaps experiencing pure JOY from a go-to spindle, spinning for meditation or love versus production; or perhaps finding the perfect spinning surface (as I did, w/my friend Julie’s small spinning bowls she sells regularly in her Etsy shop — Willow Tree Pottery).
  • Maybe you have a “new stuff” experience, item, tool, spindle maker….oy! Anything you think fellow readers or one-time visitors can benefit from. Please contact me and, as long as it relates to fiber arts and it’s not an advert or plug…. I’ll include it (giving you credit, of course) in a “new stuff” blog. Can collect different responses OR just give you a post of your own (my approval of content). Perhaps, you just want to comment — comments are allowed, once approved…but ONLY in reference to the blog part of the website.
  • ~~~~
    From “new stuff” to “cool stuff!” :)

    A cool surprise from my father came when he offered to take me to Rhinebeck! Didn’t look like things were going to come together…then, everything fell in place!

    I was so proud to introduce my father to people I met last year including: Kevin & Beth Hansen, Steph from loop, Kimber Baldwin from Fiber Optics ; and some new friends: Janet from the Wheel-Thing and Michael & Sheila Ernst (fiber arts tools & fountain pens made of glass!!!! Cool people and creative tools on a nice autumn day…

    I intend to write about my experience this year, hopefully soon.


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    I try to keep up-to-date on different fiber arts tools, esp. new uber-cool spindle designs. Not easy of late, with so many new wood-turners sprouting up! However, I still keep watch on makers I am familiar with — those who made tools I either own or tried.

    In alphabetical order, Neal Brand, Joshua Lynch and Phil Powell all have new, note-worthy items that caught my eye in the sold section of each spindle-maker’s Etsy shop.

    ** correction: below, regarding Joshua’s new spindles **

    Neal Brand

    Known primarily for his Tibetans, Neal Brand’s unique Russians equal in design and spin. Over the past months, I’ve noticed slight changes in the shafts as well as different shapes in his Tibetan whorls.

    I’m not sure (and failed to ask) if this affects spin time or length…however, to me, even slight changes in the shapes of the whorls highlight the beauty of the various woods he chooses.

    Oy. I digress.

    With Neal’s permission, I included 2 spindles in this post — different from anything I’ve seen from him before:

    A brass-tip Tibetan, made of Maple (gold rings carefully painted on the whorl):


    And a hollow Tibetan whorl:


    Neal says we can expect similar spindles to appear in his shop in the future. Cool.

    Joshua Lynch

    Joshua Lynch of TexasJeans began to offer “mini” sized Russians and Tibetans (approximately 8″L give/take) a few months ago; blending boards; and, most recently, altered the design of his Tibetan — creating a leaner, faster spindle.

    Useful for travel, tossing in a purse or project bag, or for persons like myself who need a shorter spindle, “mini” Russians and Tibetans are an exciting addition to the TJ line-up. Like all wood-turners I admire, these shorties are not achieved by chopping a few inches off the top and leaving an acute shaft.

    The spindles are well received because they are miniature versions of their larger counterparts. Tips, whorls and shafts keep a similar ratio, which keeps the well-known spin attributes of a TJ spindle.

    Now, I don’t own one of these minis; however, Joshua is one of the kind makers who made short spindles for me to use easily whilst sitting in my wheelchair (actually, 2 Maples that spin as true as the day they arrived around a year ago) and a Tibetan last winter, also smaller. Photos of my spindles look exactly like any other spindle, which shows me the proportions must be similar.

    Whether well measured or Joshua’s natural eye, these exciting mini-spindles offer many possibilities for those leaving the house, spindle in hand!

    Mini spindles copied from Joshua’s sold items:



    Joshua also began making Blending Boards. I’ve never seen/used one, but it was humorously described to me as “the poor man’s drum carder” (of which I’ve never seen/used either!).

    Made of Maple and Walnut, with a strip of TPI cloth attached to the board; remove fiber with Walnut sticks, using a technique that allows you to form blended fiber into Rolags.

    Joshua makes a limited number of boards; to my understanding, custom made on a first-come basis of which he limits the amount per week. I will try to confirm this in the next week or two.

    Blending board:


    Finally, Joshua amended the process and design of his Tibetans as well as developed a new system for balancing each spindle.

    ** correction **

    Joshua pointed out that I misunderstood the new method of turning his Tibetans; best said by the maker himself, Joshua explained, “I don’t turn the shaft and whorl as a single piece. They are turned seperately and glued together after completely finished. I put the two pieces together without glue for balancing. Once that is done then I glue them up and have a finished spindle.” (Thank you for correcting me; the article continues as originally written below).

    Joshua announced (on Rav.) that the shafts are thinner, spindles seem to spin faster and new Tibetans are easily discerned from his “older” design with decorative lathe work above the whorl.

    Each spindle is individually balanced. If your spindle contains a small round “spot” on the bottom of the whorl, no worries — this is merely a slight adjustment assuring weight is distributed equally across the whorl.

    New Tibetans:



    note the design above the whorl, found in all new Tibetan designs.

    Phil Powell

    Many spindlers like myself look forward to Phil Powell’s OOAK fiber arts tools that show off the rare and beautiful woods of which he enjoys turning (see my niddy-noddy post). Also selling fiber arts tools on Etsy, you can find nostepinnes, darning eggs, metal-tipped Russians and…

    Russians with Swarovski crystals as points!

    Coined his “gem-collection,” as of now, Phil intends this to be a unique line of spindles.

    No worries to those of us who enjoy his faster-than-a-speeding-bullet metal-tipped spindles; and exciting for us collectors, amazed at the interaction between crystal and wood.

    Fine spinners, note that they might not spin as fast as metal — purely due to the difference in the friction that occurs between point and surface. That said, I heard one spinner thought it just as fast (second-hand info, so interpret as you wish)

    Without comparing the two, spinning on a Swarovski crystal…just plain cool.

    Each spindle in Phil’s gem-line will be inscribed “proto,” with a numeric identification and Phil’s customary signature — whether purchasing to spin, collect or both…the validity of each item will be clearly marked.

    With less than 15 made at this time, I am excited to post some of the earliest pieces from Phil Powell’s gem-collection — each spindle skillfully turned to highlight the beauty of an exotic wood that causes a carefully chosen/placed crystal to shine:




    Three talented spindle makers, keeping the world of spinning exciting and spindlers saving to expand his/her collections!

    PS: I don’t have any photos or specifications….however, Ian Tait (IST) has added Tahkli’s to his spindle line-up!! Whorls are either made by hand with brass or with coins — expect to see these on his website soon! Very cool.


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    Two spindles…Last Opportunity to Own a Student Design Tibetan, Turned by Neal Brand!!

    The last 2 — yes two (2!) — spindles designed by Calculus students and turned by mathematics Professor and spindle maker extraordinaire Neal Brand are up for auction on Ebay this week!!!

    Students were challenged to design an original spindle — developing the shape, size and choosing woods to make them from. Groups of students were tasked to calculate the moment of Inertia of Neal’s well-known Tibetan spindles and use this as the basis their Tibetan designs.

    Whether or not you understand the calculus figures that make for an awesome spindle isn’t as important as knowing this calculation works AND you can trust in the wood-turning talent Neal Brand possesses.

    All proceeds go to a scholarship fund at the University of North Texas (info copied directly from the department website below**)


    Spindle #1:


    This support spindle weighs 1.4 ounces (41 g), its height is 9.5 inches and its diameter is 1.6 inches. The wood is snakewood — a very rare and expensive wood.




    The shaft is purpleheart and the whorl is ebony; this unique Tibetan weighs 1.5 ounces (43 g), is 10 inches long and its diameter is 1.1 inches.


    Should the e-bay links not work, simple go to http://www.ebay.com and enter “Neal Brand” to locate and bid on the spindles.

    Support a great cause — you might end up with a OOAK spindle, bringing you joy for years to come!

    Thank You to Mr. Neal Brand, his students and everyone that takes the time to read & bid on these spindles — the last 2!


    **John Ed Allen Mathematics Scholarship Fund

    In June 1999, Dr. John Ed Allen stepped down as Chair of the Mathematics Department after serving 23 years in that position. Throughout his tenure as chair, the department grew from a small one that focused on undergraduate education and a masters program to a comprehensive research department with strong programs at the undergraduate through Ph.D. levels. At the time Dr. Allen stepped down, he had hired all but two of the current Mathematics Department Faculty.

    While Chair, Dr. Allen particularly enjoyed working with the graduate students. He served both as Chair and Graduate Advisor. Although this took a tremendous amount of time, Dr. Allen found his interaction with the graduate students to be productive for the students and rewarding for him. Over the years, both graduate students and undergraduate students have appreciated his gentle advice and kind help.

    Math faculty members and graduate students contributed most of the money in the fund. You are welcome to become involved in this opportunity to honor Dr. Allen’s contribution to mathematics at UNT and help UNT mathematics majors and graduate students.

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    The Moment of Inertia? Most of us spindlers look at a spindle and see it’s beauty, look at the length of the shaft, the shape of the whorl and consider the moment of inertia… What? Don’t run in fear. You don’t need to understand the physics or calculus formulas that explain whether a spindle rotates fast or slow to enjoy spinning different fibers… …but certain spindle makers, such as mathematics professor Neal Brand not only understands the moment of inertia, he applies it to his spindle-making. And, what better than a real-life example to teach his students? Calculus students were challenged to design a spindle with the same moment of inertia as Neal’s well known Tibetans. Neal turned each student’s design on his lathe (total of 7) and posted them for sale on Ebay — all proceeds go to a math scholarship fund at the University of North Texas! Neal is listing each of the seven spindles one at a time, with bidding on the first spindle ending this Sunday! To read full descriptions and bid on these beauties, go to Ebay.com and type “Neal Brand Spindles” (or link: Neal Brand_student_listings) And don’t be afraid to look at the shaft, the shapes of the whorls, the different woods and beauty of each Tibetan — rest safe the moment of inertia was well-taken care…considered, calculated and applied to each cool spindle design: 20130215-212117.jpg 20130215-212128.jpg 20130215-212137.jpg 20130215-212146.jpg 20130215-212200.jpg 20130215-212208.jpg ~~~~~ Remember bidding on the first spindle posted will end on Sunday — so, don’t miss out on a one-of-a-kind spindle, turned by Tibetan-master Neal Brand based on designs his students created based on the moment of inertia. Thank you!

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    Another new interview!

    Check out Spindle Talk with Gary and Monica Thompson of Just Ducky Handspun!

    More about Gary’s spindles to come soon!
    As well as spindles by Enid and Neal!

    Working on setting up the website is a larger learning curve than I expected … but, things are coming along and new pages discussing spindles — what to look for; types and styles; wood choices; spindle shops — I plan to post topics such as these in the coming weeks.

    Thank you!

    New page:

    Look under Spindle Talk pages for a short interviews with Enid Ashcroft and Neal Brand!

    More about Enid’s and Neal’s spindles to come soon! Thank you.

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