Ornamental Turning

The online resource for "OT" enthusiasts

Fabergé Exhibitions

  • The Hermitage (Amsterdam, Netherlands). October 13, 2007 through May 5, 2008. "Art Nouveau during the Reign of the Last Tsars." Major works included in this venue are by Gallé, the Daum brothers, Lalique and 12 objects by Fabergé.
  • Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, OH). October, 2008. Moves to San Francisco in January 2009. "Artistic Luxury: Fabergé - Tiffany - Lalique" is a comparative study of three of the greatest jewelry and luxury goods designers at the turn of the 20th century.
  • Fabergé Museum in the Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia). Scheduled opening Fall 2008.
  • The Royal Collection of Queen Elizabeth II (London, England). Objects from permanent collection are shown from time to time. Check for schedule.
  • The Link of Times Foundation Fabergé Collection (USA). Objects from permanent collection are shown from time to time. Check for schedule.



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News Archive

John Edwards publishes "Holtzapffel Volume VI"

Highly accomplished ornamental turner and historian John Edwards has now published a compilation of rare and previously unpublished material related to ornamental turning. The current format is an electronic book of more than 900 pages detailing rose engine turning, the geometric chuck, ornamental turning accessories, engineering apparatus, as well as miscellaneous papers and tables. Additional details and purchase info

24 Dec 2011

Ivory turner Bill Jones passes

Born in 1920 in Stoke Newington, London, Bill Jones was a fifth generation ivory and hardwood turner. Over the years Bill wrote many articles for magazines, published a couple of books, taught and demonstrated and inspired generations of budding turners. Bill was a patron of the Society of Ornamental Turners (SOT) and member of many other turning associations. His articles in Woodturning magazine, Notes from the Turning Shop and The Complete Turner informed and entertained readers for many years. Bill died July 31, 2011 bringing to an end the era of the "ivory turner." He was probably the last of this old school of skilled hand craftsmen, his career mirroring the curtailment of the ivory trade.

15 Aug 2011

Skinner auction sells Holtzapffel & Deyerlein OT lathe

Skinner, Inc. auctioned Holtzapffel's lathe #1378 for $65,175 on July 16th in its Marlborough gallery. The lathe, made in 1827, included a two part mahogany tall chest with glazed upper section and shelves fitted with an impressive variety of accessories.

19 Jul 2011

Auction features rare 18th Century OT lathe

The April 19, 2011 Bonhams "Fine Mechanical Music and Scientific Instruments" includes an important and early ornamental turning lathe by F. Brown. (This is the same item that did not meet the reserve price at an auction earlier this year.) This tabletop lathe features a large brass flywheel, pumping/rocking rosettes, swash, oval, dome and other chucks, set on a mahogany cabinet body with sixteen variously-sized drawers for the accessories including hand tools and chisels, thread chaser faces, dyes, screws and other related and specifically-manufactured pieces of micro-proportions. Wow!

19 Mar 2011

3D Rose Engine Surface simulator software available

Bill Ooms releases 3D Rose Engine Surface, a very handy software application for Mac, Windows, and Linux that lets you visualize a dimensional surface cut by a rose engine or ornamental lathe. Yes, 3D! The software can quickly simulate the appearance of a piece based on the number and location of cuts that you input. Once you have a pattern you like, you can print out the details and then go to the shop to replicate it. Bill is generously allowing you to download and try out the software before you purchase. A brief overview video is on YouTube. More info

28 Feb 2011

Ornamental Turning Exhibition at the Wood Turning Center

"Exotic Woods, Metal Cutters and Dale Chase: Ornamental Turning from the Walter Balliet Collection" will be on exhibit at the Wood Turning Center in Philadelphia, PA, from March 4 through July 23, 2011.

The exhibit containes over 200 objects that demonstarte many aspects of ornamental turning. Eighty boxes by Dale Chase will be a special feature of the exhibit. Balliet's donation of Chase's work makes the Center's collection the largest public anthology of Chase's work to date.

From the Wood Turning Center's press release: "This exquisite selection from the Center's museum collection includes wood objects finely decorated via metal cutters fastened to historic ornamental lathes. The objects, recently donated to the Center by ornamental turner Walter Balliet, of New Jersey, reflect decades of meticulous experimentation and collaboration by Balliet and friends. These masterpieces include precious hand-size boxes by the late Dale Chase of California, the largest comprehensive museum collection to date. Other historic pieces, by Balliet and the late Frank Knox, are complemented by contemporary ornamental turning by Fred Armbruster, Paul Cler, and Gorst duPlessis. The exotic woods include over 25 varieties, including African Blackwood, Pink Ivory, and Bubinga. Experimental materials include precious metals, jade, and acrylic. In addition, our Museum Collection & Library space will be highlighting works from the museum collection showcasing ornamental turnings by: Walter Balliet; Dale Chase; Gorst duPlessis; John Edwards; Dewey Garrett; Frank Knox; Dean Malcom; Joshua Salesin; and Jon Sauer."

  • Opening Reception – Friday, March 4th, 5 – 7:30pm
  • Gallery Talk with Walter Balliet – Friday, March 4th, 5:30PM

Visit the Wood Turning Center events page for more details.

View the exhibition online

08 Feb 2011

Auction features rare 18th Century OT lathe

The January 19, 2011 Bonhams "Gentleman's Library Sale" included an important and early ornamental turning lathe by F. Brown. This tabletop lathe features a large brass flywheel, pumping/rocking rosettes, swash, oval, dome and other chucks, set on a mahogany cabinet body with sixteen variously-sized drawers for the accessories including hand tools and chisels, thread chaser faces, dyes, screws and other related and specifically-manufactured pieces of micro-proportions. Wow!

15 Dec 2010

PenChuck software free download

Bill Ooms releases PenChuck software, a handy Java application that runs on Macs, Windows, and Linux. PenChuck allows you to simulate the effect of different rosettes by putting a pen in place of a cutter. Select from a variety of common rosette shapes and parameters including amplitude and phase. The current version is available free of charge. More info

21 Nov 2010

Translation of Bergeron's “Manual du Tourneur” now available

The Society of Ornamental Turners has released in hardback a translation of Bergeron's Manual du Tourneur. Volumes I and II are text only and contain no plates; the third volume often (called the "Atlas") contains all the Plates referred to in Volumes I and II. Editor Jeremy Soulsby has translated the previously un-translated 239 pages as well as extensively revising the style and content of the earlier works so as to clarify obscure terminology and techniques. He has fully indexed the volume and provided a glossary and extended notes.

As described from the SOT website: "First published during the turbulent times of the French Revolution, Bergeron's Manuel du Tourneur or The Turner's Manual has been admired for over two hundred years as a comprehensive record of all the tools, machinery and techniques required by an eighteenth century amateur wishing to establish a fully equipped workshop for the hobby of turning. This, the second volume of text which uses the 1816 revised and expanded second edition by P. Hamelin-Bergeron, is available for the first time in an English translation. It deals with the more elaborate elements of the subject and gives instruction in the use of the complex lathes of the period which were used to make many of the artefacts now to be seen in museums."

Available for purchase through the Society of Ornamental Turners.

4 Aug 2010

Jon Sauer, Dewey Garrett receive excellence awards at 2010 AAW symposium

The American Association of Woodturners presented excellence awards to two ornamental turners during their 2010 AAW symposium in Hartford, CT. Jon Sauer and Dewey Garrett were recognized for their extraordinary contributions to the American Association of Woodturners and the advancement of woodturning. Congratulations!

19 Jun 2010

Auction Features Ted Crom Horological Tool Collection & Library

The May 1, 2010 Skinner "Science, Technology and Clocks Sale" will feature the Ted Crom Horological Tool Collection and Library. Known throughout the world, this important collection spans three centuries and is featured in six books written by Dr. Crom. The sale will include two Rose Engines including an important example from the shop of A. L. Breguet, Paris, wheel cutting engines, lathes, depthing tools, watch and clock maker’s hand tools and the extensive Crom library with horological titles from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. View auction details | View catalog

13 Mar 2010

OTI Releases Ornamental Turning DVD

OTI is giving away an instructional ornamental turning DVD with new memberships. The DVD conains two presentations from the bi-annual symposium held in Portsmouth, NH in 2006: "Eccentric Cutting Frames" by John Edwards, and "Some Materials for Ornamental Turning" by Jon Sauer. Join the OTI

2 Aug 2009

New Portable Rose Engine unveiled at AAW

A new lightweight portable rose engine machine by Mandala Rose Works was debuted at the AAW Symposium June 26-28, 2009 in Albuquerque, NM. It features all aluminum construction with 12 rosettes, rocking, pumping, phasing, variable speed motor drive, and more! Visit www.mandalaroseworks.com

29 Jun 2009

Sauer's Spinner Graces Cover of AAW Spindle Exhibit

Jon Sauer's ornamental turned spinning top was chosen as the cover image for The Spindle show catalog. This special gallery exhibit represented the work of more than 50 invited woodturners which were displayed and auctioned at the AAW Symposium June 26-28, 2009 in Albuquerque, NM.

26 Jun 2009

Articles and Letters from English Mechanic on DVD

Now available on searchable DVD, the complete set of articles and letters related to ornamental turning that appeared in the “English Mechanic” from 1865 to 1927. Articles were often written in serial form and are a very useful supplement to other books on the topic. Letters illuminate an important time in ornamental turning history, giving insight into an active community of practitioners (such as Holtzapffel, Evans, Lukin, Hartley, Goyen, Plant, Grace, and others) during the peak of OT popularity and growth. Expertly produced and highly recommended. Visit www.englishmechanic.com

7 Nov 2008

Beall Announces Pen Wizard OT Lathe

The new Beall "Pen Wizard" is a stand-alone jig for creating various OT-style wave, spiral, or geometric patterns and textures on straight, concave or convex pen and pencil barrels. You'll need a standard wood lathe, a rotary tool with cutters, and a 1/4"-28tpi threaded pen mandrel.

24 Oct 2008

The Catalog of Holtzapffel Lathes Launches Website

Holtzapffel.org is dedicated to the renowned 19th C. maker of ornamental turning equipment. It provides the world’s most comprehensive collection of information about the Holtzapffel family, their firm, and the lathes they produced. The centerpiece of the site is The Catalog of Holtzapffel Lathes, which details the provenance and specifications of 2,557 Holtzapffel lathes. You'll also find a complete Holtzapffel history, including biographies, genealogy, timeline of notable dates, factory addresses, factory signatures, and more. Visit holtzapffel.org

19 Sep 2008

The Greatest Collection of Ornamental Turned Ivory Artifacts in the World

[ Green Vault Ivories ]Johannes Volmer suggests, "Maybe some of today's ornamental turning enthusiasts would be interested to visit my native town Dresden and its famous galleries and museums—and the Green Vault." The Historical Green Vault (Historisches Gruenes Gewoelbe) was the treasure chamber of the Saxon Electors and Kings in the residence palace of Dresden. The palace was re-opened in September 2006 after the reconstruction and restoration of the old halls and rooms, having been completely burned out and destroyed by the bomb raid of the allied air forces in February 1945 (which Volmer had the chance to survive as a Dresden boy of 15). Today, they exhibit an impressive collection of more than than 100 turned ivory pieces of all kinds, some dating back to the early 17th century.

8 Jul 2008

"The Modern Rose" Turns a Jet Mini Lathe into a Rose Engine

"The Modern Rose" had its world debut at the AAW Symposium in Richmond, Va. June 20-22, 2008. This bolt-on accessory enables a Jet mini lathe to do many of the things a rose engine is known for. It bolts on to the lathe in about an hour yet preserves conventional fixed high-speed operation. Various accessories are planned allowing the ability to turn ovals, cut threads, create a barley twist, and follow a template. Visit The Modern Rose Website

22 Jun 2008

Article and Video on How to Make OT Polychromatic Patterns

"Cutting Through the Layers" by Jon Magill in the summer issue of American Woodturner describes how to use OT techniques to precisely cut through multiple contrasting layers of wood to produce polychromatic patterns. The video "Woodturning Embellishments with Laminated Acrylic" by Ed Davidson demonstrates a similar technique. More info

28 May 2008

Nova OT Visualizer Software Now Available

Teknatool is now offering software that illustrates how certain OT patterns will look. Created by James Staley, Nova OT Visualizer can help you visualize barleycorn and other patterns by entering parameters such as the diameter of the work, number of cuts, skipped cuts, and cutter diameter. The software is intended to aid in working with the Teknatool Nova Ornamental Turner tool. Requires Microsoft Excel. Trial version available. More info

14 Apr 2008

John Edwards Launches Ornamental Turning Website

Former president of the Society of Ornamental Turners, John Edwards has launched a new website dedicated to ornamental turning from the viewpoint of a practitioner. The site contains a gallery of ornamentally turned items made by the author, information about the craft of ornamental turning, a treatise on ornamental turning lathes and equipment, advice on ornamental turning techniques, a list of useful books, a catalogue of items for sale and wanted, plus links to other websites of interest to ornamental turners. View Edwards' site

12 Mar 2008

Johannes Volmer Announces Improved Oval Indexer

Johannes Volmer has published an article detailing a new indexer for ornamenting oval turned objects. It is a elegantly simple mechanism, its parts are easily made of sheet metal, and the division accuracy is very high. The indexer can be applied to a traditional elliptical chuck, Steinert's oval turning device, Vicmarc's oval turning device and others.

8 Mar 2008

American Woodturner Features Ornamental Turning

The Spring 2008 issue of American Woodturner, the journal of the American Association of Woodturners, features several articles on ornamental turning. "The Cutting Edge of OT" by Jon Magill details the cutters and cutting frames used in ornamental turning. "Build an Overhead Drive" by Jon Magill details the construction of a basic overhead drive for cutting frames and drilling spindles. "Rose-Engines & Kings" is a brief overview of the recent ornamental turning exhibit at the Wood Turning Center in Philadelphia, PA. All of the articles are illustrated with numerous color photos. American Woodturner is sent to all members of the AAW and is also readily available at bookstores throughout the U.S. Join the American Association of Woodturners

01 Mar 2008

Founding member of OTI, Ted Crom, died at age 87

Ted Crom became an esteemed horologist and wrote many books and articles on the subject, with a particular interest in the tools used to manufacture clocks and watches. He was an honorary Doctor of Engineering at the University of Maryland, a Silver Star Fellow of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, a British Horological Institute Fellow, a Barrett Silver Medal awardee, and was a member of numerous horological associations worldwide. Ted had a great love for ornamental turning and in 1989 organized a meeting of ornamental turners at the Smithsonian Institute, which became the start of Ornamental Turners International. As a founding member and president, he later organized meetings of the OTI in Oil City PA, Rochester NY, Kansas City MO, Portsmouth NH, Kennebunkport ME, and at his home in Hawthorne FL. He had a passion for collecting watches, clocks, horological tools, early trade catalogs, books, and ornamental turning equipment.

17 Jan 2008

Long-time OTI member Daniel McDonald died

Originally from Scotland, McDonald lived in Canada where his lifelong hobby of woodworking led him to ornamental turning. He was both a woodworker and metalworker, making the tools needed to create his artwork. He was especially accomplished at turning complex geometric shapes contained within spheres and ellipses as well as detailed fretwork and other intricate designs.

14 Jan 2008

The Society of Ornamental Turners Annual General Meeting

Hillingdon, Middlesex, UK – November 10, 2007

The annual general meeting of the Society of Ornamental Turners is always a friendly and enjoyable gathering with usually more than 100 members attending from the UK and overseas. In addition to the formal business meeting, it includes a lecture, competition awards, and auction. This year's auction features over 250 lots!

Visit the SOT news desk for more information

27 Oct 2007

Historic Reunification Of Fabergé

Fabergé Ltd announces the historic reunification of the Fabergé brand with the direct descendants of the nineteenth century founder of the House of Fabergé. In January 2007, an investor group Fabergé Ltd. acquired Unilever’s worldwide portfolio of Fabergé trademarks, licences and associated rights with the intent that all future development of the Fabergé name reflects the original heritage of excellence in creativity, design and craftsmanship. Sarah Fabergé (great-granddaughter Peter Carl Fabergé) said "This constitutes the reunification of the House of Fabergé and a new chapter in its history. My father, Theo Fabergé, grandson of Peter Carl Fabergé, passed away on August 20th, 2007. It is poignant that, only days before he died, both he and I entered into the arrangements reuniting the family and the Fabergé name."

10 Oct 2007

Rothschild Fabergé Egg Found – To Be Sold at Christies

Christie’s announces that they will offer at auction a remarkable discovery – The Rothschild Fabergé Egg. Previously unrecorded and an addition to no more than 12 documented examples known to have been made to Imperial standards for anyone other than the Russian Imperial Family, this exceptional work of craftsmanship is expected to realise £6 million to £9 million ($12 to $18 million) and potentially establish a new world record price for a Russian object. The Rothschild Fabergé Egg will be offered at the auction of Russian Works of Art sale on November 28, 2007.

Read complete press release

09 Oct 2007

Lindow-White Machine Works taking orders for new rose engine lathes

After their first run of new rose engine machines sold out in November 2006, Lindow-White is now taking orders for the next run of thirteen machines. Delivery date has not yet been announced. The Lindow-White rose engine, without stand and cross-slide, is offered at $2600 US.

Lindow-White Machine Works is the result of the collaboration of Steve White and David Lindow. With the common goal of producing machines and tooling for the ornamental turning world that had long been out of production and available only to those with deep pockets, the two enthusiasts combined their talents and produced a run of affordable rose engine machines, cutting frames, and accessories.

Visit the Lindow-White website

05 Oct 2007

M. Dale Chase, well-known ornamental turner died at age 73

Known as "the maker of boxes," Dale Chase became intrigued with making the finest boxes possible – pushing the very definition of sensuous, colorful and striking. The turned box became his passion during the last fifteen years of his more than thirty years as a woodturner. After acquiring a 150 year-old Holtzapffel lathe in 1972, he began creating wood boxes with engraved ornamental designs. As his skills continued to develop, he grew from traditional index ornamenting to the less common (at that time) rose engine work.

During a "sabbatical" from wood box making during the 1990s, he explored making gold, silver, jade and quartz crystal boxes. In 2003, after encouragement from collectors, curators and gallery owners, he began to study his two-layer wood boxes from earlier years, eventually developing successful multi-colored three layer boxes. These became the highlight of his turning career as seen during the solo exhibition at del Mano Gallery in December 2005. The boxes are in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Honolulu Museum of Art, Yale University Museum of Art, and several others, as well as in personal collections on all continents.

Dale Chase died after succumbing to a rare strain of cancer that was recently diagnosed. His skillful hands were not limited to making wood boxes, as he was a vascular surgeon for 32 years before retiring. Dale will be missed by the ornamental turning community and all who knew him.

27 Sep 2007

The last surviving grandson of Russian court jeweler Carl Fabergé died at age 85

From the St. Petersburg Times, September 7, 2007:

Theo Fabergé, the last surviving grandson of Russian imperial jeweler Carl Fabergé died last month in the U.K. aged 85, the jewelry company with which he was associated said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Romanov court jeweler Carl Fabergé had five sons, the last of whom Nikolai was sent from St. Petersburg to England to represent the family business in 1903.

Theo Fabergé furthered his turning skills particularly with an 1861 Holtzapffel ornamental lathe which he restored. He made an ivory casket for the Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 and developed techniques employing precious metals, enamel and gemstones. He established a workshop but initially refused to make eggs in deference to his grandfather. It was only the chance comment: “Why, Mr Fabergé, you’re making eggs!” by a visitor who saw him turning a piece of yew-wood as a gift for an 8-year old boy, that persuaded him.

Read complete St. Petersburg Times article

Visit the Theo Fabergé memorial website

07 Sep 2007

Fabergé "Sunburst" Clock Sold for $126,500 by Cowan Auctions

From the Antiques & Arts Online Newspaper, August 28, 2007:

A Fabergé triangle sunburst desk clock sold for $126,500, highlighting Cowan's Auctions spring Americana, fine and decorative arts sale on June 23. The Fabergé triangle sunburst desk clock was created by Fabergé's leading work master, Henrik Wigstrom, as signified by the H.W. marked on the edge of the frame. The clock in translucent rose pompadour, over a engine turned sunburst ground, contained within a cased silver acanthus leaf border, was made circa 1903–1908.

Read complete Antique & Arts article with photo

30 Aug 2007

Enthusiast Jon Magill announces kit for making a rose engine lathe

The Spring 2007 issue of American Woodturner, the journal of the American Association of Woodturners, features an article aimed at those people who have been initially intrigued with ornamental turning and want to give it a try but found the barriers to getting started too intimidating.

If you have watched a demo or ornamental turning at a past symposium, or perhaps read an old article with interest, but quickly lost enthusiasm after digging a little deeper and realizing how difficult or expensive it is to find, purchase and restore an antique ornamental lathe, then this may be the project for you.

This article presents a very simple design for a rose engine lathe which is capable of doing high quality work, yet is easy to build in a home workshop. If you don't have a copy of the magazine at hand, you can view the lathe construction instructions here:

View MDF Rose Engine Construction Instructions (PDF)

01 Jul 2007

Ornamental Turners International launches website

Ornamental Turners International, the US-based ornamental turning club, launches a website to help expose others to the craft, related equipment and tools, plus the fantastic results that are possible. OTI has an active forum, along with many pictures in their gallery, as well as a links to related resources.

Visit the OTI site | Visit the OTI Forum

01 May 2007

Rare J.J. Holtzapffel Portrait Sells for $7771 at David Stanley's International Auction

From the Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, May/Jun 2004, by John Wells:

A miniature portrait of John Jacob Holtzapffel (1768-1835), one of the most important men in the history of English tools and founder of the firm John Holtzapffel in London in 1794, created a lot of buzz at David Stanley's 43rd International Auction held March 24. The 3 ½ × 2 ¾ inch miniature (Lot 1910) was painted on ivory in the style of the English school of 1810 to 1820, and came in a red Morocco case with domed glass protective cover. It sold in the room after an enthusiastic exchange of bids for $7771.

Early American Industries Association, Inc. – Publications

01 May 2004

Sotheby's Announces Private Sale of the Forbes Collection of Fabergé to Russian Industrialist

The largest private collection of Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs, owned by the Forbes family, has been sold privately to Russian oil and gas magnate, Victor Vekselberg. The eggs were due to go up for auction at Sotheby's in New York in April along with the rest of the Forbes Fabergé collection. No price has been disclosed for the private sale, but pre-auction estimates for the collection were in the range of $80 million to $120 million.

Vekselberg plans to return the eggs to Russia. The collection "represents perhaps the most significant example of our cultural heritage outside Russia," he says. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to give back to my country one of its most revered treasures."

Related press releases:

Russian Tycoon Buys Forbes Fabergé Eggs February 4, 2004 | Additional Info

Fabergé And Forbes: A History Of Collecting

13 Jan 2004