Helmsley & Sinnington

We ventured into East Yorkshire (no passport required) today.

English: Steep bend on Sutton Bank

English: Steep bend on Sutton Bank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Market day Colourful vegetable stall ...

English: Market day Colourful vegetable stall in Helmsley market. Church tower in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)







There we spotted quite a few Yorkshire sash windows (my favourites!):

SAMSUNG CSCAll three upstairs windows in this cottage are Yorkshire sashes.  That is the middle section (or left section on the far right window) slides horizontally inside the fixed frames to open.  The middle one is partly open. This is effected by simply grooving the top and bottom of the frame to fit a small square batten screwed onto the top and bottom of the window lining.

In this unfinished new-build crescent they have added some Yorkshire sashes.


Looked quite promising.  The detail started to tell another story:

SAMSUNG CSCOK some Yorkshire sashes (and the regular type here too), but what has happened to that walling at the right of the gate? Really.  Then we took a butchers at the rear, to discover what was happening to these lower ground floor rooms – Blimey!


Quite a maze!

Rather more satisfactory was the heavily restored (read Victorian) church complete with many gargoyles:

SAMSUNG CSCAfter a smashing lunch at the Fox and Hounds in Sinnington my brother suggested we go up to the Norman Hall and church at the top of the village.

SAMSUNG CSCAbove is the Norman hall.  Now restored but not open to the public.  It had fallen into use as a farm barn, check out the missing 5 light South window, now a forking hole with just the two outermost jambs showing.  The Norman heads to the doors are very fine.

SAMSUNG CSCThe church sits just across the lane and is also Norman, in the main.


SAMSUNG CSCThis West door is splendid, why ever was it walled up?

SAMSUNG CSCAnd why did they add in all the celtic masonry they could find?  More of this inside:

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSCSome good clean wood carving too:

SAMSUNG CSCThis panel is repeated on all the pew ends.  The punch work is not unlike mine on “the chair”.

Interesting carving with removed background.


But seemed to run out of space at the end … (hart? heart?)

SAMSUNG CSCI’ve seen this doomsome memento mori poem before, but the spelling and orthography seems to have gone a little awry again.  Fine engraving, nonetheless.


Related articles
Location of the ceremonial county of the East ...

Location of the ceremonial county of the East Riding of Yorkshire within England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)








That chair again, and that time of year.


SAMSUNG CSCThis looks like a step backwards.  Well it is.  This chair is taking over my life.  In the last update it had taken on a vile Victorian upright habit to its back.  It was difficult to spt as the chair sat in the bodgery with that very uncertain floor, consisting of 18 inches of shavings.  Only when sat in the trailer again did the error become obvious.

Now, a comfortable chair has a relaxed back.  And a shepherd’s chair, which in theory was a chair where a shepherd could fall asleep at lambing time, should be so relaxed.  Straight backs to chairs do not induce, nor allow sleep.  Mind you, following the Law tradition I can fall asleep anywhere – sitting on two bricks (father-style), standing up, playing the clarinet (that’s me), whilst driving … (steady on – Ed).

Turns out that the straight back was a result of chopping the mortices in the back legs at  the mirror-image angle to what they ought to have been chopped. Doh!

Now it looks likes this:

SAMSUNG CSCThe back is relaxed.  Phew!  Dig those trailer side fastenings.

So apart from making an almost impossible (for me) chair, this is what’s been happening (omitting mundane things like: two swans with three cygnets on t’canal; Canadian canoe shooting The (very dangerous) Strid (twice); making animal courses (less internal organs); vegetable growing (especially that vertical pumpkin); scything (sorry Steve, a vast topic); and so on, (this has been happening) int’wood.


LOADS of fungi.  These are Black Bulgari.  They grow on dead oak, I keep on telling myself, “This is why we remove the bark and sapwood.”

Almost edible (but goes soggy when cooked):

SAMSUNG CSCRed cracking bolete.

Didn’t identify this one, but grows on oak roots:

SAMSUNG CSCLooks boleteous to moi.

Then, these guys appeared in the outfall of the lathe:

SAMSUNG CSCThis is Deer Shield “Edible. but not worthwhile.” It says here.  It’s a bit odd sharing your work space with flora and fauna. They shrews were suddenly very active a couple of days ago, rushing about every couple of minutes or so. I thought it was just me rushing about at this time of year – see you at The National Forest Wood Festival next Monday (if you don’t happen to be on one of my next three courses).



SAMSUNG CSCPhew!  Where to start?  Maybe in the morning (as above).

I took the role of morning hot water monitor:

SAMSUNG CSCEarly morning is my favourite time of day – a whole day ahead to spoil, and not many people about.


The fire ring was big and usually had embers in from the revels of the previous night, so it was easy to rekindle it and race the gallon kettle against the Kelly Kettle.

The festival is a great meet up place, OK currently only two continents, but I can’t see that lasting for long.  People carve spoons all together, all the time (the first axes start at about 7am):


Check out how concentrated everyone is.

But spoonfest is not just spoon-carving alone, it is about learning and meeting people.

Here is  Fritiof Runhall explaining the development of wooden spoon styles as living traditions changed and associated ergonomics.  So cranked handles are hypothesised to go back to a communal bowl and straight handles can only work with individual bowls (i.e. when the standards of living changed).

SAMSUNG CSCThis is JanHarm ter Brugge.  Jan excels at teaching spoon decoration amongst other things.


He is an excellent disseminator of techniques, principles and design.  This is his illustration of a Sami maze decoration:

I learnt a lot from him, and I’m aiming to copy this style:
There’s a mistake in one spoon – can you see it? Jan explained that mistakes are fine as they reinforce the hand-made quality.

This is Jarrod  Stonedahl explaining how to make and use ‘natural’ paints, oil paint, milk paint, egg tempura with earth pigments for colouring.  I learnt why my paint wasn’t working – missed out the lime!

SAMSUNG CSCNic Westerman’s rather neat blacksmithy.  He demonstrated in full forging an axe, the crowds were rather deeper when that was happening!

Not all hard work and learning.  2013 saw the premier of The Spoonfest Athletics.  Here is the start of the race to stir a cup of tea with a wooden spoon no-handed.
There were a handful of races in the championship including The maker who looks most like their spoon.  Fritiof that afternoon had made a spoon with a statue of himself as the handle, it was topped off with a bunch of his own hair!  Steve Tomlin was overall winner, and I should really have taken a vid of his extraordinary victory tour.

Great weekend, great people, great location,


and I learned quite a bit too – my spoon knife is now pretty damn sharp, and I should be able to stitch leather neatly, I’ve got the basics of playing the spoons (thanks Jo) and I’ve already got the first stage of a moulded hook knife sheath.

The finale again was spoon club with around 200 people all doing 5 minutes carving a spoon and then passing it on.  Although not a race, it was hard concentration, as you can see the moment after the hour was up:

SAMSUNG CSCThis is the output from out group

SAMSUNG CSCA big thank you to these two guys who put so much effort into the production of Spoonfest.

SAMSUNG CSCRobin Wood & Barn The Spoon in very uncharacteristic reflective mode.



Story teller’s throne – quick update.



Starting to look like a seat.  The assembly is just a dry run with no holes drilled or pegs fixed, that will be done on site at East Riddlesden Hall.  I’m axing out the arms now, and then there’s just the arm supports to turn and the wings to shape, date to carve in crest rail, fancy up the moulding, pimp the ends of the seat slabs, and make sure the side rungs drive right home so the back is relaxed.  It is not relaxed in this photo, it is an unlaidback, unfinished chair.  At this stage it is dangerous and must be kept in a cage.

Watch this space!