Tuesday, 22 September 2009

What's inside?

When you rive open a log you never really know what you're going to find. This was inside a lump of Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) that I cracked open this morning.

On contact with the air the colours oxidise very quickly to a dull browny grey.

I'm going to use the clean wood to rough out some rolling pins with the kids tomorrow and Thursday at Countryside Live but I'll work the heartwood up into some much needed stock and hopefully the colour will come back when I oil it.

This was from a load of logs I got from my mate Tony which included Cherry, Red Oak, Box and London Plane (Platanus) - cheers for that. Sometimes you wonder if you're going to find any fresh and interesting wood . . then loads turns up all at once. Also got some really nice Ash logs from a Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust site when I did a workshop for their volunteers last week. It's a feast or famine situation.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Highgate Wood

Had a blinding day at Highgate yesterday. The weather was great, loads of people came out and we had our best sales day for ages.

As there were a lot of small people about I offered 'goes' and soon had a never ending queue waiting for their turn. Child-powered lathes are good and don't half save on the legwork! Plus it was good training for Countryside Live which we'll be doing later in the week - 2000 kids a day for 2 days.

Had a really nice walk in the forest this morning - here's another in my occasional series of Pollard Portraits.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

No Dogs

I should be posting a blog about what a great time we had at the European Woodworking Show at Cressing Temple Barns today.
Instead I'm having a rant at the organiser for not mentioning on their website that dogs aren't allowed in. I was so angry to be told that after we'd driven 5o miles and I wasn't about to leave Jed in the van in the hot sun for a couple of hours while we had a look round.
I was really looking forward to it and had a pocketful of cash to spend . . .

Anyway we'll be demonstrating at Highgate Wood Heritage Day tomorrow.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Black Gold

I dug out a compost heap today...

and found it to be a massive ant colony. Anyway I spread it on the garden and Jed

helped by digging everywhere I spread it and trying to eat the ants.

Our Council have decided to give everyone a new wheelie bin for kitchen waste.
That's two now and a lot get left out on the pavement. What next? another for glass and another for paper, card, plastic and metal.
Some of them stink now as things like cooked meat, chicken, fish etc are allowed.
Why are folk so wasteful?
Do you throw away things that are a day past their "sell by" date?

A compost heap, a dog and a milkman is the answer.

Recycle and save the world!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Log Cabins

Through the reenactors I met last weekend I have hooked up with Steve Gumble a talented builder of log cabins and timber frame buildings.

We went to visit him yesterday at his base in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire (quite close to us) and he took us to see his current project nearby which is going to be a yoga studio.

This is his place - lucky guy -

and these are some of the other cabins he's built at Feel Free Farm.

Visit his website Harts of Oak .

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Tree Faces

We've rediscovered many different parts of Epping Forest taking Jed for walks. I really like the old Beech pollards which were last cut in 1878 - some of them have formed into fantastic and grotesque shapes...

I've walked through the forest at dusk and given myself the willies imagining all sorts of strange, lurking creatures. This feeling is perfectly captured in this Thomas Bewick wood engraving...

Bewick was a brilliant artist and engraver and many of his "talepieces" are humourous and poignant. The original of the above illustration only measures 5 x 3cm.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Hainault Weekend

Hainault Forest is divided in two. Half is owned and managed by the Woodland Trust and half by the London Borough of Redbridge - a strange situation for a forest. Our craft show was in the "Country Park" - the Redbridge bit. We feel quite shell-shocked at the end of these 3 day shows near the end of the show season especially as Saturday and Sunday were poorly attended with high winds.

The Medieval reenactors who were behind us were a merry bunch and jollied us along. This is my weekend apprentice Chris, aka Mad Hamish, having a go at turning a nice piece of spalted Hornbeam into a bowl.

He's been blacksmithing up to now but due to tendon damage in his right hand is seriously thinking about becoming a turner.

The Minstrels - Marie, Penny & Tony - came by and cheered us up with some toe-tapping jigs, reels and hornpipes. I joined them for one number playing wooden spoons.

Marie had lost her favourite bodhrán beater or tipper so I had a go at turning some, one from Hornbeam and another from Hawthorn. They were the thinnest things I've ever made on my lathe and the Hornbeam was easier to turn than the Hawthorn. She said they were OK but seemed a bit light to me - I think the ends need drilling and weighting. She gets a great sound from that drum, almost caressing it.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

What's new Pussycat ?

Cat Woman & Tiger Girl both bought a pendant each with their pocket money. So the drive to prise pounds out of kids pockets is working.

The weekend was eventually quite successful. One interesting thing that happened was that we were left with a 6 month old baby for over an hour. The mother and father both thought that the other had the child until they met in the beer tent minus the new addition!