Disaster Strikes!!

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My good and faithful old lathe, which must have been at least 20 years old when I bought it 20 years ago, finally gave up the ghost today.  For those that know anything about lathes, part of the drive on the tail-stock had worn so much that the keep (that’s supposed to ‘keep’ it in place) would no longer hold it and the tail-stock wheel simply unscrewed from the tail-stock spindle.  Not very helpful!.  I was int he middle of a run of large pepper mills (the drilling of these does put a lot of strain o the tail-stock drive) when it went, so I now have a stack of half-drilled mills one week before my first Christmas fair.  Thankfully, I have the small lathe that I take to fairs, so I can still produce some small items, although I’ve had to strip down the old lathe to make room for it.  However, I have no chance of doing any more mills until the old faithful is repaired or I get a new lathe.

I have found a man with a small engineering workshop who is going to try to effect a repair, but not sure how durable it will be.  But won’t get that back for nearly a week!


Something New

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I’ve not made weather stations before, but these particular pieces of wood seemed to lend themselves to them.  They were all going to be clocks, like the ones on the left, but the proportions of the wood seemed wrong for a single clock face.  There’s no point in having two clocks in the same piece – unless you’re always wanting to know the time where Auntie is in Australia, or some such – so I thought I’d add a few weather instruments.  they seem to work well, and ready in time for my first Christmas market at Knebworth House – just 3 weeks away.

These have yet to be added to my gallery – that will have to wait until I find time to photograph them properly.  But for now, the leaves on the lawn are calling!

Really touched

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I was teaching one of my regular pupils yesterday, a delightful young man aged 12.  This was his first lesson since his return from holiday and he presented me with this glass hanging.  It was apparently his own idea to get it for me and I was really touched by his thoughtfulness.  It is always a privilege to pass on my skills, but it is generally to more ‘mature’ people – often looking to take up turning in retirement.  It is a double privilege to be able to pass on my skills to a youngster, particularly one who seems so captivated by the whole process.

The glass is now hanging in the window above my lathe to remind me how blessed I have been to be able to teach him.

A great day out

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All set for my last day at RHS Gardens, Hyde Hall. Weather has been fantastic every day and today is also set to be a scorcher. We’re not used to Bank Holidays like this. It’s normally a case of bank Holiday = umbrella, but this weekend it’s been more a case of parasols and sun screen. So if you fancy a great day out at a great craft event… The gardens are good, too!

Going back home

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These are the latest items to emerge from my workshop – a set of 5 small natural edged yew bowls or dishes (not entirely sure what makes a bowl a bowl or a dish, but does it matter) that I finished this afternoon.  These have a waxed finish so are not suitable for food use, but they are still great for loose change, desk tidies, or similar.

The timber came from a diseased tree taken down in the garden of Knebworth House a couple of years ago.  These particular dishes will be going on sale in the Knebworth House gift shop, so you could say they are going back home!

Last minute prep

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This is where I’ll be this weekend.  I’ve not exhibited here before but the grounds should be amazing at this time of year.  There is also are also guest appearances by celebrity gardeners, plus live entertainment.  With the sun set to shine, it should be a great weekend.  Just some last-minute preparations before I load the car.  The key rings are finished, but the small Yew bowls I will take with me to finish at the show.  It’s on for both Saturday and Sunday – more info at the Home and Garden Show website.

Not a bad walk to work!

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Here at RHA Wisley for Day 2 of the fair. I could think of far worse ways to start the day than a walk through the gardens. Always something in flower and always plenty of colour. All we need now is a bit of sunshine – and a few customers…

Ready, Steady, Go

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Well, that’s it folks!  I did most of my setup yesterday with just a few extra tweaks this morning, so I’m now all ready for the show to start.  Doors open at 9.00 am here at RHS Wisley.  This is the first time that I’ve been at this event, so I’ve no idea of how busy it will be and whether I have enough stock.  I’m told it gets very busy and if the shelves are empty on Monday when we finish, then I’ll know better for another time!


It fits!

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After numerous attempts, it fitted!  And I didn’t have to resort to using my trailer.  I don’t normally need to use the trailer unless I am taking my own gazebo or I’m demonstrating (which requires a lot more than just a lathe), but this is a large fair and I have more stock than normal.  Another box, though, and it would have been a different story.  Must try to remember how it went in, so that I can pack it again to come home.

Just as well I’m not taking a passenger with me tomorrow!

Ready to roll, but will it fit?

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Well, I’ve burned as much midnight oil as I can to build up my stock and the moment of truth has arrived.  It’s now all boxed up and ready to go.  Alarm will be set for 4.00 am tomorrow for an early start to be at RHS Wisley by 6.00.  At least the M25 should be OK at that time of day!  Then all morning setting up ready for the fair opening on Thursday.  The only remaining question – will it all fit in the car?  It’s not just the stock (1st photo), but all the paraphernalia that goes with setting up the stall (2nd photo).

This paraphernalia includes (not an exhaustive list):
  • 6 heavy panels of gridwall (the square steel mesh) to help form the backdrop to my stall (otherwise known as a ‘shell scheme’), plus sheets to hang down behind the gridwall.
  • 2 large (6′ x 2’6″) tables to display the stock, plus table coverings and clamps to keep them in place.
  • Another table (3′ square) to use for wrapping and a general work-surface (changing watch batteries, carrying out minor repairs, etc.)
  • Shelves and shelf brackets to fix to the gridwall for extra ‘backstage’ display space.
  • 2 sets of acrylic display shelves and supports to give height to the main display tables (home-made, in the old burgundy curtains).
  • Another shelf (the long black box) that sits at the back of a main display table.  This is again to give height, but it’s open on the back to give me some hidden space for my phone, card reader, receipts, etc. – as well as my lunch and coffee!
  • Rolls of bubble wrap, plus a large home-made loo-roll holder to support it just above my wrapping table.
  • A box full of lights, spare bulbs, lighting cables and extension leads, all PAT tested.
  • Assorted old gazebo poles (I never throw such things away) that form a lighting gantry and help to support the backdrop.
  • A sack barrow to help move everything between car and marquee (not sure how close I will get).
  • And last, but not least, a bar stool – just in case I get time to sit down.

Not shown in the 2nd photo (simply because I forgot) is a large mobile tool chest that I take with me.  This includes such things as

  • Assorted wooden blocks for levelling the tables and the gridwall.
  • Cable ties to hold everything together.
  • Abrasives, oils, polishes and cloths for minor repairs.
  • Assorted tools needed for setting up.
  • Bungees, string, gaffer tape (never go anywhere without it)
  • Business cards, price labels, pens, receipts, chargers.
  • Spare batteries for my clocks, and a watch repair kit.
  • A document wallet with all my signs, insurance certificates, PAT testing certificates, etc.

And all this is for an EASY setup – I’m in a marquee provided by others and I will not be demonstrating.  If I was to take my own gazebo and lathe to demonstrate, then the list would double!

As to whether it will fit in the car – well, let’s go and try!!



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