Three vases

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Three vases

Just finished these three beauties today – two are Laburnum and the other is Yew.

The Yew has been down the bottom of my garden for some years, so it was about time I did something with it. the Laburnum, however, only came down in a storm a few months ago, so these were rough turned and hollowed whilst green to speed up the drying process.

Both of these timbers are a pleasure to work with, and few other timbers can match the spectacular colour difference between the pale sapwood and the darker heartwood. The shape of these vases was chosen to show off this characteristic to the maximum effect and I think it worked!

There are a few small cracks in each, but that is the nature of wood. Had I left them to season naturally, then I may have reduced the cracking but that’s not guaranteed – nothing is with wood! The yew, after all, had been seasoning naturally for 10 years or more and also has a good number of cracks.

Shopping again!

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I’ve been shopping again! It seems that most of my pupils want to make small dishes and bowls, and I was running out of suitable timber. I have plenty, but either too large (and wanting to save it for something special) or perhaps part decayed (great as a finished article, but not easy to learn on).

So I’ve been out and restocked. I had a trip in the sunshine today down to Dover to my favourite supplier, Stiles & Bates. Always good to go there. Not surprisingly, I stocked up on a few other things as well!

Well, my first fair is fast approaching!

Ready and waiting

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Well, I’ve finished the setup and had a coffee, all with 20 minutes to spare. All I need now is for the fair to open.  I’ve not done this event before, so not sure what to expect, but if you want to see me I’m at the Mistletoe Fair, which is on the Herts showground. Full details on my “fairs” page.

Actually, I wasn’t here at crack of dawn! My wonderful wife came and helped me setup yesterday. Thank you, Jane.

Out with the Old – In with the New

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I decided to treat myself!  After many years of very faithful service from my old Myford Mystro lathe, I have decided to upgrade.  There was nothing wrong with it, but I just decided to treat myself – perhaps I’m reaching that time of life!

Anyway, the first photo shows the good old faithful now sitting outside the workshop waiting to be sold.  Actually, i took so long to write this post, that it’s already been collected and is now hopefully providing good faithful service to its next owner.

But what to replace it with?  I made a shortlist but there’s nothing like seeing them in the flesh, so I decided to pay a visit to my favourite supplier – Stiles & Bates.  For me, that’s a fair round trip but it was worth it.  Both Gordon and Dave were extremely helpful in explaining the pros and cons of each on my shortlist, as well as the “add-on” implications (such as having to change my Nova chucks, not just the inserts).  I eventually (they were very patient!) chose the Galaxy DVR and have no regrets.  As you can see from the second photo, it’s already dusty!!

With all such changes, there are some things that are taking a bit of getting used to, but it’s an excellent piece of kit.  It has everything I want – an extensive range of speeds, extremely quiet, no vibration, holds the speed under load, and good clearance over the bed – although I may still treat myself at some point to the bowl outrigger.  I did have a minor teething problem, but their after-sales service was amazing.  It was sorted so quickly and efficiently that i had no down-time – important at this time of year with all my fairs coming up.

As I said – no regrets!

New Life

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This piece of Monkey Puzzle has been stacked under my carport for about 6 months, waiting for me to find the time to do something with it.  With the dry and hot summer that we have had, the timber has obviously started to dry out but last week, for no apparent reason, it started so sprout!  I don’t know whether it could sense a change in humidity after the recent rains, but all the large lengths had started to do the same.  I did check, but it wasn’t sending roots down through the tarmac!

These sprouts won’t last long as there is no goodness feeding the log – they would simply grow until the reserves in the log are all used up and then wither.  But it is an outward sign of hope for new life.  Imagine, then,  the possibility for new life when the reserves are unlimited by turning to our Lord and depending on His living water.



Chainsaw Days

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Spent a happy hour or two yesterday under the car port processing some newly acquired timber.  Some Hornbeam, Beech, Cherry and Monkey Puzzle.  One piece of the Beech is nicely spalted and some of the Hornbeam is showing the start of spalting – so I think I’ll just lay those down the bottom of the garden for a month or two and see what nature can do.  The Monkey Puzzle should be interesting – I’ve not turned it before so watch this space.

A White Christmas

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Very much so.  woke up to heavy snowfall this morning so decided to make my way to the market early before the roads became clogged.  wonderful picture of the Cathedral as I arrived, and the snow certainly adds to the atmosphere.  All looked very seasonal.  Had a text on the way over to say that the market would be open as usual, so glad I made an early start.  However, no sooner had I unpacked my bags and put the light on, I was told the market would remain closed for the day so faced a great journey home through the traffic I had done so well to avoid earlier!!

So apologies to anyone who was coming to see me today.  Hopefully, business as usual tomorrow.

And apologies for the quality of the photos – my phone camera is on its way out!

Final touches

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Just added a few finishing touches to the stall to make it a bit more festive.  I picked up some greenery on the way in yesterday (off-cuts from Christmas trees) and fixed these under the canopy.  I also had a Christmas message inside the stall which was a bit lost, so I’ve now moved that outside where it can be better seen.

I’m hearing a lot of comments from ‘regular’ visitors, about the market being better this year.  Although it is slightly smaller, there is a much better atmosphere and less stalls with, for want of a better description, cheap imported tat.  If you like what you see, and I certainly think they have it just about right this year, then please say so by writing to the Herts Advertiser, as the market has had very mixed publicity over the last few years.  It will help ensure the continuation of the market and will encourage those who put so much effort into the running of it.



Turning Red

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Decided to add a bit more red to make the stall more festive. I might also try to get some more greenery for the canopy tomorrow.

The last couple of days have been really affirming with a good number of people stopping to say that “I bought [whatever] from you last year and we really love it” or similar.  Mostly it’s in respect of salt & pepper mills or clocks, but I’ve also had people say the same about my pens and bowls.  I’m confident that what I make will last, but it’s always good to know that it’s also appreciated.

I’ve Arrived

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I am now ensconced at St. Albans for the start of a 26 day non-stop stint at their Christmas Market. The setup of the market is different again this year, but it still has an entertainment tepee and Santa’s Grotto.  There is also a snow globe, which is new for this year and looks fun!

I shall be there every day up to and including 23rd December, so why not come along and see me.  I will be demonstrating every day – assuming I can keep the blood circulating in my fingers. It was pretty nippy today and I forgot my thermals.  Definitely a full set tomorrow!



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