Chainsaw Day

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chainsaw day1chainsaw day2Well, days really – I’ve spent the last couple of weeks processing some of the timber that I had stockpiled under the car port for the last year or so, plus more that has been down the bottom of the garden for probably 5 – 10 years.  Sadly, much of the older timber that I stored down the garden had been attacked by insects and a large proportion ended up as firewood.  If only we had a wood-burner – never mind, it’s good to bless one’s friends!

Much of what I’ve processed will be laid up to dry for a bit longer, but some is ready now – especially the smaller pieces.  It’s always good to find some “gold” in what looked fairly plain.  The Hornbeam in the picture on the right has spalted very nicely and will make some lovely natural edged bowls.  They might even be ready for my first fair, which will be at RHS Wisley for 5 days over the first May Bank Holiday.

There is, of course, always a down-side.  By the time I had finished I had acquired 12 large bags of wood shavings.  Unfortunately, they’re no good for animal bedding as they contain a lot of dust.  They also contain Walnut (toxic to horses) and Yew (toxic to just about everything, including you and me).  The other down-side is my back – time for a hot bath!

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It’s Christmas!

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its-christmas-1its-christmas-2Well, it is at St. Albans.  Today was the first day of their Chritsmas Market, located in the ancient walled Vintry Garden, next to the Cathedral.  I was almost ready for opening time!  I was open and the stock was out, but I was still sorting my shelves at the workshop end of my chalet so didn’t actually start turning until lunchtime.  It’s amazing how much time it can take to set up a temporary workshop.  For a day or two (as for most fairs this year) I don’t mind working in a bit of chaos, but this is the big one – a continuous stint of 25 days – so it was good to get everything in some sort of order before I started.

The chalet still looks a little bare, but I’m still working on additional decorations and additions – I’ll try and add these over the next few days.

Time anybody?

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time-anybody.jpgThis are the latest goodies to emerge from the shavings – all I have to do now is find some batteries!  They are mostly Yew, but there are also some Catalpa, Robinia, and Spalted Hornbeam.  Most of the Yew is from a tree that was taken down in the garden of Knebworth House last year.  It’s been a long time drying but worth the wait.  I also have some bowls from the same tree.

I’m pleased to have finished these today, as I’m setting up tomorrow for the Knebworth House Christmas Fair – very timely (if you’ll forgive the pun).  The extra provenance should help them sell.  It’s open 10.00-4.00, Friday, Saturday and Sunday if you want to come and see me.

Oh, and the one that looks as though it’s fainted has not – it’s a wall clock!

Something from Nothing

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The “free gift” from the old log.

There is a saying that you can’t get something for nothing, or that there is no such thing as a “free gift”.  Well, a month ago, I posted about an old log that looked nothing on the outside but was full of possibilities when I cut into it.  Well, that was a month ago – just look what a differecne a month can make!!  It never ceases to amaze me how something as beautiful as this can be hidden inside something as dull and uninteresting as that old log.

Bowls Galore!

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bowls-galoreI hate to send you into panic mode, but there are now only 51 shopping days until Christmas (if you count Sundays). For you, that is – for me, 28 of them are selling days.  I have 3 days coming up next weekend at Knebworth House, plus 25 consecutive (I hope I have the stamina!) days at St. Albans.  I’ll also be demonstrating all day at both events.  Exact dates are on my fairs page.  So if you’re in panic mode, spare a thought for me!

So, needless to say I’m up to my knees in shavings (very uncomfortable when they rise above the top of your shoes), trying to make sure I have adequate stock levels.  Trouble is, I don’t really know what that is!  Anyway, this is the latest to come out of the workshop – although, strictly speaking, they have just come from the spare bedroom where I’ve spent the last week or so oiling them. Box them up tomorrow ready for Knebworth.  The spare bedroom is now filled with salt and pepper mills, which all need to be oiled before we need the bed for visitors!

Nothing much, really?

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Well, it really didn’t look like much.  This was the top of an old Hornbeam log that had sat under my carport all summer – along with a good selection of other timber that I had collected over recent months.  Anyway, I thought it was about time I did something with the ever-increasing pile of timber so picked up this rather uninteresting looking log.  I thought if I pick the ‘least likely to be useful’ log, then I could cut it up for firewood and quickly generate some space.  But part of the joy of this work, is that you never know what you might find inside an old log!  The log as seen in this first picture certainly would fill anyone with enthusiasm for making anything from it, but once cut…

The second picture shows what I found after the first cut.  Beautifully spalted, and the figuring goes the full length of the log – about 1.5 metres.  Fortunately, the crack doesnt!  And having been under the carport all summer, it’s well on the way to being dry.  Should have some bowls ready for Christmas…

Music While You Work

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Well, it was hot and sticky in the marquee – very!!  But it was made enjoyable by the delightful live harpist playing in the same section of the marquee as me.  Not sure that the heat and humidity could have been good for the instrument but the resulting music brought a smile to everyone.  I’m back there again today (through till Monday), though I’m not sure the harpist will be – I think it might be different music each day.  If you want to see me, or hear the music, then come ot RHS Hyde Hall.  As well as the large craft fair (about 200 stalls) there are some amazing gardens.  A great day out.

Ready to Roll

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Tready-to-roll.jpghursday afternoon and all set up (with more than a little help from a friend – thank you, John) and ready for the Craft Fair at RHS Hyde Hall – 10.00 till 5.00, Friday through till Monday.  Just hope it’s not quite as hot and humid over the next few days as the marquee was a bit like a sauna this afternoon.

Full circle

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knebworthThis little lot is all Yew which came originally from Knebworth House when they had to take down a diseased tree.  I never like to see Yew go to waste, so it has now been ‘upcycled’ and is about to go back up to Knebworth House into their gift shop.  Just in time (pardon the pun!!) for Father’s day and a jousting tournament that is being staged this weekend.

Should be fun – anybody fancy a day out?

All alone…

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nest

I’ve had company in the workshop lately, but all is now quiet.  Nestled up in the rafters, among some old coiled up cables, has been a clutch of newly hatched wrens.  The parents have been back and forth busily all day every day bringing in tiny morsels, to the accompaniment of much squawking each time food arrives.  But all is now quiet – they have fledged.  We still see the (parent?) wrens around, but busy as they were.  This has been the second year that they have nested in this spot – at lease, we assume it is the same adults.  For next year (if I remember)’ I’ll perhaps move the piece of foam (in to the top of the picture) up marginally and rig up a camera trap to capture some of the activity.

It all seems quite strange – I got used to the regular noises as they were being fed and to ducking my head as I went in and out so as to avoid their ‘air-space’.  It all feels rather lonely now!

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