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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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!

Shopping again

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Been out collecting again – beats shopping at Tesco anytime!  This is a large ‘lump’ of Beech that has started to spalt quite nicely.  Went down to rural Dorset early this morning to collect this little beauty and have it cut into 3″ slabs for me. As you can see from the final picture, there is some wonderful figuring in this log.  Some of the edges are a bit soft and will just be waste – but what would you expect with a log that has started to decay!

Of the sound timber, most will end up as large pepper mills (and maybe a few smaller pairs of salt & pepper).  I might also make the odd bowl or two from a couple of slabs that are only 2″ thick – logs are never an exact thickness, so it’s a matter of making the most out of what’s there. Nick, who was cutting this for me, knows his wood and how to get the best out of a rough old log that look nothing on the outside.

Also came back with some Yew, so watch this space!



All ready to roll…

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Well, I’m all ready to go for the Hertfordshire County Show this weekend.  Even the weather is set to be reasonable, which is good news.  It’ll be the first time I’ve done this show, so I’m not sure what to expect but it seems well organised.  I’ll be demonstrating in the ‘Made in Hertfordshire’ marquee if you want to come and see.  Should be great fun and lots for the whole family.  Lots of humongous farm machinery to interest the dads and the kids, lots of animals (with babies), not to mention the rather appealing Farmers Bar Restaurant, conveniently located adjacent to my marquee!

Hopefully, see you there…



Last Minute Panic

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Not quite panic, but it’s all a bit chaotic as I get ready for my first fair of the year.  Chaos on the workbench as I try and get the last few things finished and chaos in the house as I try and get them priced and packed up ready to take with me.  The fair may not start until Saturday, but I am going to do most of my setting up tomorrow.  All have to be bubble-wrapped before being put in my storage boxes and some I want to photograph first for this new website.  If you look carefully at the indoor picture, you can also see bowls and mills still being oiled in the spare bedroom!

If you want to see me at the Herts Show, then I’ll be in the ‘Made in Hertfordshire’ marquee.


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Finally finished oiling, assembling and pairing my latest batch of mills.  All with over a week to spare before my first show – The Hertfordshire County Show at Redbourn on 28/29th May.  The ones on the right are a new shape. Any suggestions for a name? The look a bit like tin soldiers, or even Chinese.  For the moment, I’m going to call them my ‘Mandarins’.

It may have been a large batch, but the numbers have already been depleted. Just sold 2 pairs via the website and another pair have been earmarked for our own dinner table – I took our previous pair to the Christmas market last year as a sample pair and sold them!  Indeed, two ladies from North London who were visiting the market together nearly fell out over who was going to have them…

Here we go again…

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here-we-go-againJust starting some more mills. Large ones this time – otherwise known as mother-in-law deterrents! Includes Walnut, Elm, Yew and spalted Beech. Hopefully get them all turned this week, which leaves me 2 weeks to get them oiled before Herts Show. Anybody going?

Just a few mills!

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All the turning done – just need to oil them and fit the mechanisms.  Similar mills can be seen in the gallery, but the keen-eyed may notice a new shape.  Never done a batch as large as this all in one go, and it did get a bit like a treadmill towards the end.  I think that next time it will be a couple of smaller batches with some ‘variety’ in between!

Almost there

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almost-there.jpgThose salt and pepper mills are gradually beginning to take shape. All that’s left now is the tops (plus a week or two of oiling and fitting the mechanisms). Hopefully will get the tops largely finished tomorrow then I can think about what next! First show (Herts Show) is only a month away and most of my boxes are still empty!!!

Stocking up again…

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Tested the car suspension again today, this time with a car load of Yew, courtesy of Avalon Trees.  Many thanks, Steve.  At least most of it is Yew, but there are a few pieces of Eucalyptus.  Should make a good few bowls and clocks, and perhaps the odd large vase.  However, it’s all to green for the moment.  They do say that patience is a virtue!

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