Not all Things are created equal.

There’s often talk about how materialistic our society has become and how possessions rule our lives. Like most generalities there is an element of truth in it which is why it gets told and retold, but also a falsehood lies concealed within.

There is a fundamental difference in Things.

Some are clutter, mass produced and most often have no intrinsic value.

Some are linked sentimentally to a person or place and have an emotional value which far exceeds their economic value…. that pebble from the beach, for example..

Some are so aesthetically pleasing that they ‘give’ every time they are used or viewed. Artworks are sometimes in this category …. although there’s a lot of crap out there posing as Art.
I have a total ‘blindspot’ when it comes to the difference between art and craft, or artisan and artist … but I am in a minority, I’m sure.
Pretentious arguements concerning The Human Condition [one of my most hated phrases] are often bought into play to try and ‘educate’ me.

…and then there are magic things…

Magic things have a power of their own, independent of their beauty, their owner and value.

I think the whole “we are too materialistic” arguement overlooks this differentiation. We are maybe not materialistic enough in that we don’t evaluate Things, we don’t look at them closely enough, we don’t discern.

I love Things.
Some of my Things are junk, those I love less…. but some are more valuable than some people..:)

Anyway … my latest product from the workshop … a knife for my grandson who is a Scout.

The woods are Bird’s Eye Birch and Tiger Oak (from fallen trees), with copper silver and brass spacers. The dark blue resin I made myself and the light coloured plastic is day-glow, it shines green at night.

The lid of the box is sumac (also a tree I felled) and the leather is dyed with blueberries.

The sheath is traditional Nordic style.

… I’m working on a bread box at the moment, trying my hand at dovetail joints. I actually bought some wood .. American Walnut, as no native UK wood can match that rich brown colour.

Photos will follow… but it’ll be a while I guess..

:))

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Flower bowl from dough bowl

Nearly 3 years ago I started on the refurbishment of an old dough bowl I bought at a bootfair.

I started off carving it out a bit

Then gave it a bit of paint

It’s a design I had wanted to make out of glass but I would have needed a lot of machinery and so, it didn’t happen.

It’s Ok in wood, and I’m glad to have finished off another of those “little projects” that can quickly fill a workshop..

:))

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New Tiger Oak Caddy-style Box

Design isn’t always straightforward, some things need to sit on the workbench as one of many possible solutions rises to the surface of the Possibilities Stew. When it finally does emerge it can necessitate a whole bunch of different decisions … and this can take a bit more contemplation. This is one of those things that took it’s time to complete.

The joints using mini bamboo pins reminded me of stitching, I’ve never seen it before, but it work well for this piece.

I’m very happy with the result, I like the balance of the overall piece.

The inside is almost impossible to photograph, The “Power of Creativity” symbol [first sign in the I-Ching] is done in a blue/green glitter and then a layer of clear epoxy was poured over to create a sort of black mirror. The sides are in a rippled epoxy finish. It just reflects your face when you look in…. or the camera when you try to photograph it.

Anyway, I have another piece I’m just finishing off that has also taken ages … more of that next week.

Enjoying Wimbledon..:))

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Posh bird table in oak

It’s been ages since I posted anything about my workshop projects apart from a few photos of my wild plum slabs which are currently drying and warping and splitting at this moment in time. Not unsurprising when you try to dry something too fast…. should create an interesting set of problems later in the year….

I have finished the first of a number of smaller projects which are ‘on the bench’ at the moment, namely my posh bird table.

I’ve cobbled this together with bits of reclaimed oak along with a few newer pieces, using slate for the roof.

I’ve managed to use pegs rather than screws, mostly, as I’m pretty sure that the weather and bird poo will subject it to quite a bit of stress …[if bird tables ever get stressed]. Which is why I chose solid oak rather than anything fancy.

The pole it sits on is just a cherry laurel post I had hanging around and will obviously rot but the peg connecting the two pieces is Australian Ironwood which is, not surprisingly, hard as iron. It should be a simple process to replace the pole when it’s time is up.

I’m also working on another Tiger Oak box with an oriental ‘style’ which should be appearing on these pages soon … and one or two other bits and bobs.

Anyway … back to work..

XX soror

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Frame for Virtual Worlds painting.

Yes, I finally got around to framing my Virtual World painting. It’s been hanging around on the kitchen wall for months now and I’ve been promising myself I’d get around to it as soon as the wardrobe was finished. It also needed a good varnishing as it was now old enough.

I found a bit of wood on a client’s bonfire that I knew wasn’t oak or pine so I took it home and cleaned it off, it was caked in crap and a rotten layer of wood. Anyway, it turns out it was birch.

I bought a rabbet plane off eBay a while back specifically for this job so I dusted it off and it did a good job. The corners turned out OK and the frame was more square than the canvas. Quite a difficult job with only hand tools.

The wood was just a little too good to paint over entirely but as I didn’t want a brown frame I had to treat it somehow. I tried using a white tinted cellulose based varnish but it just soaked into the softer bits of wood completely. I was hoping for a slightly opalescent finish…. I didn’t really manage… so plan B was to give it a “cloudy” look.

I used a slightly tinted ordinary varnish on top of the cellulose hoping to give it a hue and show some of the wood. The second coat had a little chrome yellow in it. It’s turned out a bit ‘distressed’ …. I’m not entirely happy with the final effect but it will do until I get bored with it and just paint it one colour.

Still, it’s done and varnished and kitchen-proof now.

:))

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Eve’s Wardrobe

As you may know I’ve been building a wardrobe for the last few months and, finally, it’s finished. It’s basically the biggest thing I could make in my workshop and still move around so I’ll be glad to see it moved indoors.

Now, mythologically, the first person to need a wardrobe was Eve. Once she’d munched the apple she was no longer content with fig leaves and headed for the nearest mall. Historically, though, selective evolution saw to it that those who liked to run around naked (at least in this part of the planet) never got to reproduce. As there are plenty of Darwinian Logic style wardrobes for sale at Ikea (other crap-packed furniture is available), I have tipped my hat to Eve in the decoration of mine.

Well… the prim-like ‘leaves’ on the wardrobe doors are enamelled copper dishes I hammered out and soldered a short length of 5mm copper pipe to the back of. I used a blow torch for that as I don’t have a kiln. I secured them in place with a short piece of plastic hose (5mm internal diameter).

The handles are wood with lots of filler and many layers of paint. To keep the doors closed I’ve buried super magnets into the frame and the doors (eBay) and the hinges are just brass bars (eBay) I’ve drilled.

The top hinge has to be cantilevered like that as the doors aren’t straight-sided.

The apple ….I’m not sure about… it has a copper top and bottom skin, the white bit is made of wood and epoxy resin. The enamelling on it is pretty bad and I’ve bodged it with some varnish, paint and various forms of ticky-tacky.

I used the best paint and brushes I could afford with a primer coat, two undercoats and 3 top coats. It’s not a perfect finish, but it will have to do.

It’s probably cost me around $300 in materials as I bought most of the wood and brass fittings, upcycling where I could.

So..it’s all done now apart from cleaning brushes and rescuing my workshop from the mess.

Happy to have my workshop back…

:))

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wardrobe project

Moving house as often as I have in the past I have been used to hanging my clothes on one of those clothes rails like they use in cheap clothes shops. The trouble with buying a wardrobe is that I’ve never really seen one I like and, being a bit of a furniture snob, I could never quite convince myself that buying a cheap bit of flat-pack furniture was a good idea.

So, the solution, now that I have a workshop, was obviously to make myself one.

Cutting up bits of tree trunk like I have done in previous projects seemed like quite a chore for such a large piece and the resulting weight would require a forklift truck to move it from the workshop to the house.

I would have to buy plywood anyway so, as I mentioned in my last post, I bought some off-cuts from a cigar box factory, thinking that it would help keep the weight down.

So.. the ultimate in flat-pack, a load of timber, arrived and I started the assembly … that was a month ago.

I don’t really like large brown things so it is to be a painted wardrobe, giving me an easy time when it comes to hiding flaws and dodgy joints.

Progress so far….

As the sides are sloping, the doors will have to have special hinges. They are about $30 each so I decided I will make my own from a bit of brass (another eBay purchase).

I’m going to make some carved handles and some decorations, possibly out of copper, for the doors so it’ll be a while until I’m finished..

I’ll post more later…

:))

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Magic Mushroom Jar

…or other magic stuff if you don’t have any mushrooms to store…

I just finished making a tea-caddy shaped cookie jar style thingy from tiger oak and spalted beech…

It’s about 6 x 6 x 9 inches [16x16x 24 cm] and has a sprinkling of faerie dust in the varnish, more on the inside than on the outside.

The faults are filled with my ‘black opal’ filler and the underside of the lid is painted with gold paint.

It’s my first piece that uses my new logo.

I have no idea what it could be used for … probably not great for foodstuffs as it would be a little difficult to wash out a lot although it is very well varnished inside and out..

Anyway… I’ve just started on my next project which is a wardrobe. For this one I bought some offcuts from a cigar box factory as it’s going to be painted so the boring wood won’t matter much and it saves tons of sawing…

Quite a big thing to make in my small workshop but it’s needed..

more photos of the project as it progresses…

:))

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Making a branding iron

I wanted to be able to ‘sign’ my future pieces with my new logo…

I started off with the following, a scaled image of the log, some Copper Art Clay, two pieces of hard wax and a good scalpel.


There are instructions on Youtube if you want to make copper clay rather than buy it…. I bought some ($17)..

I wrapped the image around the wax

Carved the image into the wax ( I gave up on the very small image, my eyes couldn’t do it)…

Pressed the clay into the wax and carved it out deeper when it was a little drier (it was very sticky)…

Left the clay to dry

Fired it with my torch in the BBQ

and… with a bit of practice it looks like it should do fine…

:)

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“Well, it’s not real, though, is it!”

Don’t you love it when people say (about virtual worlds) “Well, it’s not real, though, is it!”

Some of my virtual friends bought some of my virtual trees with their virtual money which I then converted to buy a cast iron drill.

How’s that for reality?

:)

Some of you may have heard, I’m upgrading my workshop. I’ve spent the last month or so doing it and I’m more or less finished.

I thought you might like to see some photos…


The reason for this is to get a bit more space (especially for drying wood) and I’m hoping it will augur a new phase in my work. I want to get a bit more professional and try and make stuff for sale.

That’s the big idea anyway, we’ll see where it goes.

:)

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