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Hello again!

I’ve been out and about, Cornwall, Devon(shire), Somerset (pronounced Zummerzet).  Even The Bodger gets a trip out now and again.  I’ve never visited Cornwall previously, and I found it very beautiful and interesting.

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Italian Garden, Lost Gardens of Heligan

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Heligan earth giant.

Inevitably there was much woodwork to see, some very beautiful carving of the Early Modern era.

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Small photos are due to software updates beyond the control of The Blog Management.

We were going to take the ferry to Fowey, but it was too rough so we went by car.

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Classic S-scroll work, pulpit, Fowey Parish Church

Also sculpture, insect-like Hepworth work in her St. Ives garden, of course she was a Yorkshire lass from Wakefield now home of the excellent Hepworth gallery..

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Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden, St Ives.

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Lots of joinery work on these cold frames!

IMG_0118_4This was a most excellently restored old Land Rover, right down to the nuts and bolts, surprised the headlights are so far apart though.

The second week, after a brief foray into Devonshire for Portland Bill and crab sandwiches, was spent by me at Bridgwater College, learning about box making with Peter Folansbee.  Jane was lucky enough to spend the week visiting interesting gardens and houses in the area.  In fact the day she was at Montacute House, Peter was telling us about an excellent article on the frieze carved on the great bed, and Jane took a photo (then lost it).

© National Trust

You can find the article on Jstor.  There are measured drawings on the frieze design.

JstoreWe did a lot of stuff about not measuring, as you would expect from Mr F.  He’s an ace at it.

No ruler or pencil used for this:

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Size does matter

 

IMG_0159I really like the Maltese cross punch Peter uses, I’ve bought a set of needle files to try and replicate it. I have a simple, rather wobbly plain cross, but this one is better.

One evening Jane and I visited (or revisited in Jane’s case) a couple of Quantock churches, The Church of Saint Margaret, Spaxton and Saint Marys, Kingston with its tower-climbing hunky-punks.

Found a couple of figures we were working on at Bridgwater College, lunettes:

07225030_2and S-scrolls:

07225029_2Both on tiny, ancient stools tucked away in a corner of Saint Margarets.

There were also splendid pew end carvings:

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OK, where’s the original sized photo gone?

07225045_2Get that – I hear the style is poppy head, several other plants in evidence on this one.  The raking evening sunlight gives great depth to the carving.  This may be somewhat later, but shows an interesting way to fill the spandrells with squared flowers in variety ignoring symmetry, one of our modern obsessions (machines are good at it).

I like the heads carved into this one, although I took it for the S-scroll:

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Look! I can fly with no hands.

So a splendid holiday all in all, I thoroughly recommend Peter’s classes.

Back on Earth, I returned to rush out and do shows, it’s part of my job.

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What’s he doing?

We went to Ripley Show for the first time this year, we were stationed next to The Sheep:

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Lots of them

I’m chained in my shelter, making small hurdles, but Jane took a few photos of the judging action:

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The stick guides the pig and the board stops it biting the opposition.

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Line ’em up

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These sheepy types, always asleep during spelling lessons – ‘c’ when it’s a noun, “s” reserved for the verb.

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Well you would need to wear a bocky to judge pigs wouldn’t you?

Meanwhile, back at Rose Cottage, I’m wondering just how close the architectural and carved versions or acanthus leaves are to nature …

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Rather short of sunshine this one.

Fixing things up

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Assorted fire and weather damaged ridge components.

Today I have been mainly fixing the ridge poles on The Bodgery.  The flue pipe from the lil wood burner stove (Do you mean that stack of fire bricks on two lorry wheels? -Ed) was fixed to the side A frame at the ridge.  Some days the tar gets a bit thick inside and we have a roaring chimney fire – cleans it out well, but the pipe gets a little hot and so do things around it. The ridge juts out into the open and gets plenty of rain and sun, beech and sycamore can only stand so much of that treatment and after 8 years have given up the ghost.

Rolled back the tarps after unfastening a couple of dozen or so ropes and misc. wire and bungee fastenings. Shored up the rafters for the back elevation of the roof, well they’ve been shored up for about a month waiting for me to get round to this.

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New load-bearing ridge half way up with shoring holding the back poles up.

Made me blink a bit with all that light.  The benches, chopping block and lathe make good foot stools, but there are no steps up to them, so rather an energetic, stretchy day.  I put in two poles at the ridge.  One to carry the back poles and one to take the tarp above the level of the rafter ends.

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One ridge good, two ridges better for the tarp.

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Pull over that sheet there boy.

Then on with the tarp.  I have two – a white under sheet for light reflection and a green very heavy duty one on top.

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Good to have the sign boards back up off the floor.

OK there are another half dozen kicking about around the sides over the shop, making a porch, stopping the rain at the lathe tool end and one in reserve to unroll when the vile East wind blows.

Got that stove pipe away from the inflammables a bit:

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Oversized ash ridge with heat protection, need to think about weather protection now. In the meantime it’s the luxury of carefree chimney fires.

Thank goodness for forked branches. what useful shoring up tools

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Never cut a forked branch end off.

Fixed the pole lathe treadle again too, the last fix has only lasted a few months, the bike tyre I have used as a hinge for quite a while just broke in two.  Decided to use a redundant safety belt from the Land Rover.  First job was to make a tool to burn self-sealing holes:

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Yeah! Another used chainsaw file re-purposed.

I used a new lacing technique instead of the lashing method I’ve used previously.

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We’ll see how it lasts.

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Double treadle.  Note the hob nails for icy weather.

Had a weekend away in East Yorkshire and found a nice minimalist chisel&punch pattern in the choir stalls

English: Beverley Minster, Beverley, East Ridi...

English: Beverley Minster, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

at Beverley Minster …

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Had to copy it – it’s now a frieze on a chopping board.

Looks like they used a chisel that didn’t reach long enough to do the lines in one go.  That screw has got to be a much later repair.  There were some great misericords, of course I had to be sitting on top of five fools.

Also found some neat flowers growing on the porch of St Mary’s – the other church in Beverley.

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Going to master this style of carving one day.  But I’ll never be as good as this guy:

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Surprising oak grave ‘stone’ by Mr ‘Mousey’ Thompson late of Kilburn.

Also found a series of informal porch decorations – done by foresters, I’ll be bound.

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Halved pine dressings.

Fixing it.

During the mad Winter festivities I had a semi-serious line: “If it’s broke, don’t fix it.”  Well that can only apply in limited ways and I really spend a lot of time fixing things.  I find this really satisfying.  Take this morning, the fire bricks lining our No. 1 wood-burner are getting way past their best.  A couple are broken in two, one side cheek has a bit missing, the top section that gets hit when fuelling logs is rather worn.  I considered buying a whole set and just replacing the lot.  Until I saw the price £272!  No.2 wood-burner entire cost less than that.  I had always thought about cutting new bricks and I’ve found I can get a sheet that will more than do the job for £60 delivered.  It’s mainly vermiculite so isn’t going to present immense difficulties cutting to shape and the odd holes to be drilled here and there.  I’m going to improve the cheek pieces so they are less likely to break again.  So that’s on the stocks, ordering the sheet today.

On a woody theme, I fixed a couple of parts of the elf making process recently.  I’ve made over a thousand of these little chaps, which sell all the year round – even in early January – first sale of the year!

SAMSUNG CSC The paint doesn’t dry when the temperatures get low, so I put them in their rack in the fire box (once it’s extinguished for the night, obviously).  That works fine, unless it rains, when, despite having a good cowl over the chimney end, water gets down and mars the paint work.  But not with the umbrella I added to the rack quite some time ago now:

SAMSUNG CSCI can cut these elves in about 19 cuts with a following wind.  Just before the Misrule Season I found I could reduce the cuts to about 13 by taking two initial cuts with the axe, makes a smarter job of the hats too.  I’ve made over a thousand of these elves over the past few years (I analise my sales as I prepare my tax return).  This all started from a great Swedish site showing how to make them step by step.

My friend David made me some V-blocks for general holding of round objects and one of them has become an essential part of the production line.  I use them when I saw off the carved elf from the stick.  In the bad old days the elf fell on the floor about 50% of the time.  Now they stay in the V-block 99%.

SAMSUNG CSCI ride my shave-horse side-saddle when carving elves, which used to make it tricky to put my foot on the treadle to nip the V-block.  Now I have improved, self-closing dumb-head:

SAMSUNG CSCGrossly ugly, but works, and is easily removed for conventional horse-work.

Then, there’s the Landy, oh no not the Land Rover!

SAMSUNG CSCUntil its last visit to Railside Garage & MOT test, the faults were: fuel gauge not working; windscreen washers u/s; dodgy hand brake; end of exhaust pipe missing; two front tyres tired out and  a broken rear work light.  All but the last item were fixed and it seemed like a new vehicle!

That work light … essential these dark evenings when I’m packing tools etc into the Landy.  The LR version cost £70 and they’d changed the fixings, so a bit of a non-starter.  Well, I found an £18 LED version that would mount properly.  Hey Presto!

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Let there be light.

What a difference.

SAMSUNG CSCLeveled up the chopping block that has had a jaunty lean on it for about a year, at the same time discovered that the shavings had crept up a few inches, much better working height now.  The shavings went into the newly instituted additional storage area.

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Hum, the bubble was in the middle before I put that heavy cup of tea on it. (Wouldn’t that have made the bubble run the other way? Ed.)

I’m doing some paid fixing too, this National Trust bench will be getting a little TLC

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSCTo sort some of the problems out I’m replacing three of the boards, so I need some inch oak boards.  Chainsaw mill at the ready!  Slight problem fixing the wooden frame for the mill to run on for the first cut.  I either use 4″ coach screws into the log – but these would definitely have fouled the chain,  or use log dogs.  My two big ‘uns are already fastening the log to the milling ramp. And the beautiful little ones didn’t seem to be in any of the 4 places I searched for them. Here’s my fix, again rather ugly, but worked a treat.

SAMSUNG CSCIn festive mood I’ve also discovered the wonders of Sugru – putty that cures to a rubber-like compound in 24 hours and sticks to many things.  Won a few Brownie points fixing kitchen stuff.

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Before.

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Fixed

SAMSUNG CSCI’m not in the woods tomorrow, I’ll be in a massive tithe barn at East Riddlesden Hall learning how to make straw bee skeps (retro hives, now mainly used for gathering swarms). I prepared the long straw earlier.

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Working so fast you can’t see me hand moving.

I felt thrown back a couple of hundred years to the time when straw plaiting was a good means to boost the family income of agricultural labourers.  The ladies (OK women and girls really) earned more than the head of household in that way.  It must have been pretty monotonous work.

read more here.

Snow and finish

Spot the bodgery.

snowy bodgeryWe’ve had about four inches of snow, which seems to be hanging around a bit.  It is not terribly cold, but this brings its own problems.  The snow was a bit soft yesterday and it started sticking to my clog soles.  The wooden, unsoled part in the middle welds to slightly damp snow, and then builds up, in the same way as how children roll large snow balls for snowmen.  Add a few shavings and pretty soon you’re a couple of inches taller, until one falls off and then your limping!

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I believe there is a dialect word for these clods of snow, but I’m blowed if I can find it.  Any ideas anyone?

We had the return of a little sun in the afternoon which was very welcome, it having been rather cloudy for many days.

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The last slab of the oak butt I milled attracted the attention of a cafe proprietor, so I’ve been working that up for a couple of food presentation boards with my usual knife-tooled finish.
SAMSUNG CSCIn the background you can see some progress on the green oak bench I’m working on.  It has a lower back than the last two.  I need to get the trailer down into the woods when the snow melts so I can level the legs in, the front two need taming a bit from their current wild splay.

Felling again today.  I have a new camera that takes pretty decent video – it looks really good on a big TV screen, but this extract is compressed for ease of downloading so quality is just ordinary.  Spot the inattention just before it finally goes down.  Tut, tut!  On this day that was the only tree to fall in one, all other three had to be hand winched down – I’m sparing you the endless video with a click, click, click sound track.

Not wildly exciting.  Today (it took a little while to load up the video) I’ve been felling on the slopes above where the video was taken, rather more snow now, melting stuff.  Keeping a footing is rather important, and the escape route is vital.  I did a lot of dragging timber to the ride, and left some pieces long to fit on the Landy roof rack, I’m not taking the trailer in until the weather improves.  I got the Land Rover a little stuck last week and ended up winching a rock out of the way so I could get home.

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I leave the brash piles as shelter for wildlife.  Not that all wildlife is the forester’s friend:

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The top of this sycamore had been de-barked by squirrels, the upper one in a full ring and killed the lead growth.

 

 

Upgrades and mishtakes

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Sunrise reddens a frosty Yorkshire morning

Phew! I can certainly agree with the sentiments expressed by Peter Galbert in a recent post about learning from your mistakes.  I’ve just spent about 4 hours or more upgrading my WordPress blogging software and making a complete hash of it.  (Well some of the earlier attempts are timed at 14:30 yesterday and I finished off at about 7:15am this morning, did get a couple of hours sleep, mind.)

I suppose I knew already that people write instructions to make life easier for me, not just for fun.  I do read instructions, it’s sometimes surprising what you learn.  The instructions I read for this upgrade to a beta version of the software (well a bit more dangerous than that really it is described as “bleeding edge nightlies”.  I mean these guys were not hiding anything.  They also advised doing a backup first (done), and “do not install this on a live site unless you are adventurous”.  Well, sounded like a bit of a challenge really.  I was tempted by the improvements they were crowing about to the media handling, and I post quite a few pictures – have you noticed?

 

Ah well to cut a long story short I didn’t turn off the plugins, contrary to instructions. I think it may have been caused by making guacamole in mid upload, well it’s slow is FTP but still works, the old-timer, as old, if not older than The Internet itself! This failure to click about three buttons caused chaos and much FTP work uploading files, watching slow progress, deleting files, checking forum posts on the issues.  But finally this morning it was working again, even the plugins, the most important of which dams up the stream of rubbish comments from spammers.

Anyway, just to counter my computerish story, here are some seasonal woody photos:

 

Stock for customers.

 

This is an interesting home-made vice or clamp, I can’t decide which.  There are a couple of countersunk screw holes in the back jaw suggesting it has been mounted somewhere.  On the other hand there is no garter to pull the front jaw out when the screws are loosened.  I can’t find it in the excellent Salaman Dictionary of Tools, but I’m sure I’ve seen it somewhere – any suggestions?  My brother bought it for me in exchange for a promise to make him a mandrel for remoulding a couple of brace of 18th century pewter tankards he picked up for a song.

The tankards just fit in nicely with my current Land Rover entertainment from Librivox: Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens. The story features The Maypole Inn (based on a real coaching inn in Epping Forest) where I’m sure pots like these must have been drunk from.  Curiously they are assayed as pints but are not modern English pint-sized.  This harks back to before the 1824 Weights and Measures Act which standardised the Imperial Pint across the British Empire at 568 ml whereas formerly the English pint varied and I guess these tankard measures are equivalent to the United States liquid pint (473 ml), I’ll check once the squareness has been taken out of them and some of the bumps.

For info, the rounder plane is still in refinement, getting the blade tuned in is proving not easy!

Woods across the border

I’ve been away in Cumbria for the day with Coppice Association North West in Moss & Heights Spring wood.  It was a good day, and good to meet a few more woody folk.  It was a bit damp at first and the fire was a bit of a challenge:

But it came good in the end:

How much woods vary, this one had a much more open feeling than Strid which lies in a steep valley.  Here the views were open up to the Lake District with its mountains (the lower southern ones in the top picture above)

Some coppicing was done, until Twiggy hit an unseen length of wire with her chainsaw.  She luckily escaped with a minor puncture to her face, could have been a lot worse (and yes the helmet vizor was down).

This was my first experience of proper coppice cutting for useful material.

Only a half-dozen members turned up so it wasn’t a lot of work, but some useful stuff was produced for working on.  I took away birch for elves, shrink pots and spoons.  Others were taking the birch tops for besoms.

Two dogs were out – Jim’s Tilly and Mike’s labrador dog. Tilly’s a typical Jack Russel – here hunting mice:

Reminded me of our old Spot the dog.  Tilly is very protective of her territory, and rather coquettish with Mike’s dog. Her she is reclining in her barge:

I’m hoping to be doing some coppicing nearer home next, fingers crossed.

A four-legged workshop

Today I ran a workshop for five people making deer.  I was ably assisted by my wife (chief photographer, waitress, tool mistress and adviser for the day).  Two of the chaps on the course shared today as their birthday and the course was a present from their wives.  Although we were surrounded by (melting) snow I managed to keep everyone busy and all went home with a deer (except for me, I’m more of a venison man):

Here are the youngest and oldest 15 to 62 (fortunately my insurance cover goes as low as 9 years old).

These gels had fun:

I should point out that the rips in the jeans were pre-existing and that no humans were harmed in the making of these deer.  The red stains liberally sprinkled around the middle work bench are just Flying Goose hot sauce stains caused during an eating incident at lunchtime.

There were actually six members of the course but the robin just didn’t seem to get the hang of things at all.  He seemed to enjoy the biscuits and home-baked bread nonetheless.

It has been very scenic in the wood this past week, if a bit chilly.  I’m surprised at the very low numbers of visitors considering the sights to be seen:

I think sometimes I like the shape of trees without their leaves better than with.  The shape is so much more clear and stark and beautiful.

Even the messy old bodgery looked not bad:

The sun did his bit too to make things look good:

These pictures take a bit of getting as the sun only shines on my side of the River Wharfe briefly in these short Winter days.

I feel so sorry for the wildlife living outdoors all the time, I know vaguely how they must feel, and they don’t have four pairs of trousers and five tops like me.  Earlier this week at home the temperature dropped to minus 13 centigrade – just how do you sleep out through that?  Maybe the cold is just another state to wildlife, but I guess they must enjoy warmer weather.

And another thing, why do snow pictures usually look as though they were taken on (almost) black and white film?