Sunday, 31 August 2008

Gorgeous Burr Elm Plank

We were lucky enough to buy this gorgeous burr Elm plank a few years ago for only £20 !

Ever since I've had it it's been challenging me to make something worthy of it's rare and beautiful nature. A bit like an uncut diamond.

I think "that time has come" and a Windsor chair, footstool and a small side table would be good.
Maybe an Arbotech not adze for roughing out the seat though? - what with all that mad grain !

Any other ideas ?

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Spoons & Sculptures

I found this old tool in a junky old antique tat shop. I think it's a grubbing hoe of some type.

I thought it looked quite sculptural . . .

. . . specially from this close up angle

Had loads of cherry lately so I've been carving some spoons and utensils -

I've also reshaped a couple of sycamore spoons that I felt were a bit lumpen. It's surprising how a bit of wood removed and a few strokes of the knife can make things gracefull. The heart came from the top of the spoon 3rd from right.
The implement at left is a Kniforkspoon - there is a blade on the right hand prong.

- § -

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Look what I've made . . .

It's always good to see that smile of creative satisfaction and slight surprise. "Yes I made these by chopping up a few old logs . . ."
This is Nick who has been here for a couple of days discovering some of the Art & Mysteries of green woodworking, pole lathe turning, carving and whistlemaking.
He is on a mid-course career check of other possibilities and I wish him good luck on the Journey.

Quite a few people with hi-tech careers are coming on my courses, some of them quite stressed.
They are looking for the real world and a more creative, earthy and organic lifestyle rather than a virtual and complicated one.

A Crafter in Wool

This is our friend Carolyn who was at Blenheim Palace at the weekend. We haven't seen her much lately as she and husband Glyn moved down to Cornwall a few years ago to a 30 acre farm where they keep bees, Saddleback pigs and have a flock of Jacob sheep. She cards spins and dyes the wool then uses it to make fantastic jumpers and demonstrates the venerable and ancient craft of Feltmaking at shows.

These are some of her felt bags.

Glyn and Carolyn also run a Bed & Breakfast at Largin Farm twixt Liskeard and Lostwithiel which backs onto Ancient Woodland. She also runs courses in hand spinning and feltmaking.
If you fancy a break or are in the area you will always be assured of a warm and friendly welcome. You can email them here

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Blackberrie Nouveau

Took this picture of our Blackberry wine bubbling away in its first flush of youthful vigour. It's a very pretty colour and the smell is wonderful. Some years we do, others we don't but this summer we've already made 2 gallons of Elderflower and 2 of Oak leaf all gathered from our bit of land. There will be a good harvest of Elderberries soon.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Honey Drizzlers & Yorkshire


Yesterday evening I went to a Club night at the E.Herts Woodturners. Various techniques were being demonstrated such as goblet making, lidded boxes and one guy was showing how to use a Stebcentre for quickly turning items such as light pulls and honey drizzlers. He heard I was a pole lathe turner and asked if I made honey drizzlers. When I said yes he replied "Watch this you'll eat your heart out" and produced the object at top in the photo in about 2 minutes and gave it to me. Personally I think it looks more like a sex-toy . . . !

My take on a honey drizzler is the objet at bottom made from Cherry wood in about half an hour. Which do you prefer ? On the whole and speaking as the keeper of a few bees I think they're pretty ridiculous things - you need really runny honey - what's wrong with a spoon ? At least you can lick it clean ! We do sell quite a few though and they are quite fun to make.

The picture of the old woodworkers shop appeared in the June 2008 edition of the Dalesman lent to me by my Dad. It's by an artist called David Hoyle who has painted many pictures of old crafts (the whole site is very interesting).
For me the painting is very evocative of going with my grandad, Charlie Fawcett, to visit Greensmiths shop where he worked - in fact he could be the guy just below centre with the plane. I really like the depiction of the miserable looking old git at the back, right - probably the gaffer and the ladder at back, left.
Charlie's shop was very exciting because there was an engine in the corner which drove a line-shaft which ran the whole length. Each machine - planer, saw, sander etc - had a belt which was connected to this and when you pulled a lever across the thing lurched into action. The Health & Safety people would have a field day with that type of thing today !

We'll be demonstrating at Blenheim Palace Craft Show over the bank holiday weekend so Oxfordshire here we come . . .


Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Hautbois pronounced Hobbis


Today I've been to Coltishall in Norfolk with Andy who lives across the road. The reason was to organise and discuss a weekend event that we're going to run in October at Great Hautbois House - the centre for East Anglian Girl Guiding.
It's going to be an environmental awareness event called "Changing the World!"! This is being overseen by The Woodland Trust who asked us to run a Bodgers Camp last summer as part of the Centenary Scout Jamboree which was based at Chelmsford in Essex. 40,000 scouts from all over the world came to that and quite a few had a go on our pole lathes.

Like the young lady below who came from Finland . . .

. . . and my friend Ramon who was from Venezuela.

Hopefully some of them took the idea of using the simple technology back home with them.

The event in October is going to be ladies only so perhaps more genteel - maybe not !?
Andy is going to be doing some shelter-building, fire lighting and survival skills, Will Wall, Vanessa and me will be running the bodger camp, others will be doing willow weaving, tree planting and charcoal burning.
Looks like good fun - I'll report back when it's happened.


Sunday, 17 August 2008

Sunny Sunday

I think that Elliot really did enjoy his day green woodworking with me.
He was keen, adept and took a delight in the things he made which were an Ash spinning top, a Sycamore honey drizzler and a Cherry dibber.

This is the log that he made . . .

. . . the honey drizzler from.

I think that this was the Sycamore which was cut down at the end of our road a couple of weeks ago - so not many "wood miles" there then ! The Cherry came from Highgate Wood and the Ash from Cuffley.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Squashed frog

I felt bad when I discovered this as I was sorting out wood for the firewood pile. I must have dumped the birch log down without looking. But froggie is quite beautiful in death . . .

Got someone coming to do an Intro to Green Woodwork Course here tomorrow and I don't know anything about him as his wife gave him the course as a surprise birthday present.
Hope he enjoys himself !

Thursday, 14 August 2008

It's a hard life . . .


I needed a rest in the hammock after doing battle with a shed full of wasps (not the one shown here but the other one housing my treadle lathe). We hadn't got round to moving all the bee gear out and there was a super full of frames some of which still had honey in them - I'm amazed it's taken the wasps this long to find it.
I donned the bee suit, got the smoker going and got rid of them.

A nice young tree to ID


Tuesday, 12 August 2008

St Alexander's Day

Third Century

Dissatisfied with the nobly-born but unsuitable candidates for the vacant see of Comana in Pontus (northern Asia Minor), St Gregory the Wonder-worker turned to Alexander the Charcoal-Burner and, in spite of his rags and dirty face, chose him to be bishop. Alexander turned out to be a man of wisdom and is said to have eventually suffered martydom by fire.
August 11th

Had a missive from Peter Jameson today, who amongst other things is a charcoal burner, informing me that it was St Alexander's Day yesterday. Good luck to all the Charcoal Burners out there!

Going down to Berkshire this evening to give a demonstration to the
Kennet Valley Woodturners
there's a picture of a great little armadillow made from a Banksia nut on their front page.


Friday, 8 August 2008

Rural rusticks

Swapping recipies for rabbit stew - I bet !

Dick is a great character and hopefully he's going to help us to get a dog like his.
(shame it's not in the photo)

On the left is John Browning, spar maker (for thatch) - he's got an amazing cheap old axe which is so polished and shiny through years of constant use.

The dog is a Bedlington terrier x Whippet (like Alfred on Heartbeat) and it will hopefully be in October/November time.

We could do with some rabbit control on our plot - they are getting to be quite a pest. It's interesting to see the things they DON'T eat. Like foxgloves, daffodils, primroses, pine, hazel, acer, verbascum, elder, cherry or birch.
Everything else has to be protected . . .

Monday, 4 August 2008

Early bird

If the early bird catches the worm . . . what might happen to the early sparrow ?

I happened to look down the garden this morning and saw what I thought was a wood pigeon sitting on my chopping block.

Looking again I realised it was actually a bird of prey tucking into it's breakfast of . . . fresh sparrow !

Managed to grab the camera and took a reasonable pic considering I was on massive zoom and balanced on the edge of the window.

See earlier blog link to youtube vid to see our large sparrow family. When we had a look all we could see were a few feathers and the beak which some wasps and ants were already fighting for !

Anyone know which bird it is ?


Sunday, 3 August 2008

Blake Hall Game & Country Show

Ultimately we enjoyed the weekend but it didn't get off to a very good start yesterday and the weather wasn't kind to us again.

Loads of people came out today despite the rain and it was a good big show with plenty to see for everyone.

There was a good dynamic in our end of the marquee with a lot of banter and camaraderie flying about. I was demonstrating making the priests and we did sell a couple - but no clackers . . .

Friday, 1 August 2008

Priests, clackers and hot pink

The priests . . .

from £25 . . . . . . . . . . .

The clackers . .

from £20 . .. . . . . . . .

Hope the punters at Blake Hall Game, Craft & Country Show appreciate my efforts in supplying the country members with some hunting and shooting artefacts for their delectation . . .

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