Last time I blogged I mentioned that I was about to become a little bit busier. The reason for this is that the IFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing) asked me if I would like to be chief route setter for the bouldering at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. This is an amazing opportunity, but not one I ever thought would be offered to me. In fact, after my trip to the beach games in Qatar last November, I was happily looking forward to retiring from international competition work for good. At the age of 48, it really does seem a good time to stop and let some younger climbers have a go. However, the nice people at the IFSC suggested that if I went to the Olympics, I would only need to postpone retirement for another 7 months, and they needed a setter with a good level of experience, so that was it. I got signed up.
What this means in reality is a ton of extra work to do between now and August - a load of competitions I hadn't planned on setting, and a load of extra climbing in order to be in good shape for the summer. Thoughts of my imminent retirement had meant that I was starting to let things slide a bit, so this new job has seen me have to pull my finger out and get back on the programme. I'm sure I will write some more about this work as the year goes on.
What this does mean is that I have less time for other stuff, including wood work, which is unfortunate as I seem to be feeling particularly productive/creative at the moment. For my birthday I was given the book Fluid Forms - a retrospective of the work of Irish turner, Liam Flynn. It's a beautiful book, and there is a lot of simularity between Liam's work and some of my more recent experiments with green turning, carving and distortion. It's very odd that I wasn't familiar with Liams work before I saw his book, yet a lot of the ideas I have over the last year or so explore the same ideas he seemed to have. I still have a long way to go before I can get anywhere near his masterful turning skill though!
The photo below is a carved cherry vessel I roughed out this afternoon - I am not happy with the shape of the vessel, but was quite pleased with the strange zig-zag/flame effect running across the middle where the outer layer of green wood has oxidised and then I have carved through to expose the new wood underneath. Still, more practise is required I think!