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!!



Time for Wisley

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Less than a week to go to my first fair of the year – and probably the biggest, too.  I’ve burned a lot of the midnight oil making sure that I have enough stock and this little lot were finished last week (been too focused on making more items to post them on here).  I’m currently making some bigger clocks and some ballpoint pens, most of which will be finished today. Then it’s some fountain opens and rollerballs, plus some bottle stoppers.

The fair is at RHS Wisley starting next Thursday and going through to Bank Holiday Monday (see my fairs page for more details).  That means much of Tuesday next week loading the car & trailer and Wednesday setting up, so only a few production days left!

Hopefully see some of you there.  Entrance to the craft fair is free, but normal garden admission charges will apply if you are not an RHS member.

Making progress

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Finally feel I’m making some progress in respect of getting ready for my first fair of 2017.  After the busyness of the Christmas markets, my first fair seemed very remote and I probably dragged my heels a bit in terms of time at the lathe.  Two trips up north to see our new granddaughter probably didn’t help – but I wouldn’t have missed those for anything. Then I suddenly realised how close it really was and have been panicking over recent weeks, burying myself deep in shavings. But I’m now beginning to see the wood for the trees, if you’ll pardon the pun.  Still can’t afford to slow down much, but there is an end in sight, with the fair less than two weeks away,

Anyway, some nice bowls and more salt and pepper mills to add to my stock – they just need wrapping in bubble wrap and boxing up ready to go.  If you want to see these and more in the flesh, as it were, then come to RHS Wisley.  The fair runs from 27th April until 1st May. More details on my fairs page.

A variety of colours

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I finished turning these large pepper mills (otherwise known as ‘mother-in-law deterrents’) yesterday and their first coat of oil has really brought out the variety of colours that result from the use of different woods.  The oil tends to darken and enrich the colours, but otherwise they are all natural – no stains, which I generally avoid using unless specifically requested.  From right to left, they are Sapele (a Mahogany substitute from Africa), spalted Hornbeam (local), Cherry (local), Padauk (also from Africa) and Elm (English).  These will need another 4 or 5 coats before they are ready to assemble.

The shavings are colourful, too!


Ready at last

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These mills and Spalted Hornbeam bowls have been on the go since mid-January.  They shouldn’t have taken that long, but life just seems to get in the way at times and other things take over – like becoming a Grandad!  Anyway, cuddles with the first grandchild over for a couple of weeks, so back the shavings…

The other bowl is a large piece of English Walnut that has sat on the top shelf in the workshop for many years just gathering dust.  A bit of a waste really, so decided to do something with it.  The fruit is supposed to give an indication of the size, which is 90 mm deep and 430 mm diameter – almost as large as i can turn with my lathe.  I think the knot in the middle makes a nice feature.

I’ve taken a few more pictures of the large bowl and some of the spalted bowls to go into my “gallery” pages, but that is going to have to wait for a day or three as the next lot of mills is already well under way and I want to get them oiled before my next trip up north to see our granddaughter.

All that remains now is to price them – something I find harder than the turning – ready for my first fair.



Almost there

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The mills are now all turned, so I’ve commandeered the spare bedroom to oil them.  They’ll need at least 4 or 5 coats, one coat per day and rubbed down between coats.  Then it’ll be time to assemble them.  However, this was the end of my kiln dried timber, so in between making these it was a trip to Leicester to buy some more.  It’s now stacked under the car port, having been cut to length to get into the car, awaiting transformation.  A mixture of Black Walnut, Oak, Ash and Sycamore.  I have also bought some Cherry and some exotics from elsewhere, so watch this space…


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