Featured Artisan : Alan’s Miniature Woodturnings

Alan Cottingham had been a French polisher/cabinet maker for over 20 years when he was made redundant in 2021. He side-stepped into another job as industrial sprayer, where he was supervising the restoration of the top parapets and balusters on Blackfriars bridge in London. 2600 pieces of cast iron were taken off the bridge, brought up to the northwest of England, shotblasted repaired & painted. So, Alan’s real job is not so mini!

He discovered the world of miniature woodturning in 2011, soon after he bought his lathe. He started out turning full size bowls, but in a small shed he struggled for space, so started to turn small items such as pens, wine bottle stops etc. While researching small items, he came across Cynthia Howes `One Good Turn` on google and was immediately hooked.

Perseverance is key. Alan has spent years trying to perfect his craft, working on his skills to recreate as many features as possible, to those of a full-scale item. Quality, tight fitted lids & fully hollowed out vessels are a result of practice, trial and error and making your own tools.

Inspiration came from Bernie Pittman, Brian Taylor ( Grandad’s Miniatures) & Lulia Chin Lee, a fantastic artist, who creates beautiful open twist pieces.

None of his work could be done without his trusty lathe, Betsy. A 1979 Cast Iron Record coronet no 3. At 13 stone, she is a stone heavier than Alan & 4 years older!

He dreams of ‘turning’ his miniature turnings into a full-time job; creating new pieces, travelling the country to shows and meeting the community. Unfortunately, this is not achievable yet. Real life gets in the way, house moves, house refurbs and 2 kids. But now he has a permanent workspace and his children are older so who knows!

For Alan, the hardest part of his work is not something you would expect – photographing and listing his creations. Why sit at a laptop when he could be turning & creating new work? Another big challenge has been getting a permanent workspace. He now has a workshop that was built to his spec which houses his tools & stock of exotic timbers, so, with a new studio & life a little more settled, maybe we will be seeing more of Alan in the future.

View more of Alan’s work HERE.