Sunday, 7 November 2010

Laburnum Spoons

After cleaning out my workshop (desperately in need of one) I found that I had a few bits laburnum lying underneath the shavings. Then the thought occurred to me, having made a few spoons in laburnum recently and though I’d do a post on them.

I find the look of the wood to be exceptional, especially when one can get the contrast between the white sapwood and the dark heartwood. If one can incorporate this into the design of the spoon then it looks even better! The only difficulty in the wood is the feeling when carving. I have found that it is rather “gritty” when carving instead the smoothness of say birch or sycamore.

Either way this wood is ace and I definitely enjoy carving it. The spoon on the left has just been roughed tonight and one on the left was finished of last week.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Big Spoons

Have been working on a couple spoons recently and found out that I am sick of doing little eating spoons all the time. Thought it was time to have ago at doing some bigger serving spoons.

Mainly because, although I do enjoy eating spoons its just that I don’t get the satisfaction of doing long planning cuts with the knife. It’s a joy to get these cuts right and see a lovely long curl of wood come of the spoon and seeing a lovely flat surface. You don’t get it as much with the little eating spoons. Plus there’s also room for more decoration which is fun :-D

These two spoons are some pieces of sycamore that was cut down at the top of my street last year. The wood as got some lovely colors running through it. Though I think I left it a tad too long as getting a good finish on these colored bits was quite difficult.

I have also been trying a different approach with the keels on the back of the spoons. wating a less sharp but still deffined feel.
I am enjoying doing big spoons so I shall see what forms take shape over the couple of months.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

New Lathe in The Making

I have recently been constructing a portable pole lathe for re-enactment so that I can demonstrate bowl turning at future events. This is because I am starting to get a little bored with just fighting at events and would prefer to have to a “role” or “craft” to do when I’m not fighting.

The bed is made out of an entire trunk of birch as you can see from the white bark still present. It was the largest piece of material I had at the time and decided that I would use it for now until I find a larger piece……that is if it ever requires a new bed. The legs are ash and the poppets are made out of the ash I used for my other pole lathe (recycle recycle).

I still need to make the treadle and tool rest. I will take my time on the tool rest as I don’t want to get it wrong. Once those are sorted I need to make up a load of tools authentic for re-enactment.

All in all a lot more work to do over the winter. no rest for the wicked.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Long Time No Carve

Has been a while since my last blog. have been doing a lot more sewing than woodworking over the last month. but have just put the needle and thread down to do some spoon carving last night and I feel better for it :-).

but what I wanted to blog on was a book that I have recently bought about the worshipful company of turners. Being a re-enacter interested in the history of woodwork, its important that I understand the old livery companies, and guilds. one of them being the company of turners.

the book details the companys history since its formation duruing the early middle ages to the 20th century. one gets a good feel for a crafts legeacy when looking at this book. it also gives an explanation of what a guild is which has been the biggest help to me. So hopefully when i get my medieval pole lathe for shows i will have a good enough backround in the crafts history to get across to the public.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Advanced Spoon Carving Course

At the start of this week I attended an advanced spoon carving course at robin woods. And I have to say it was exceedingly good.

Had to camp overnight this time but was worth it. Field head campsite in Edale is really good considering other places I’ve camped. Plus they had I little lake that I camped next which was wonderful to wake up to.

The course was really set out as one the first day we went over all the cuts with knife and axe (where I realised I’d forgotten a few things) and then progressed on to make tent pegs out of ash. This was then followed with the making of a good eating spoon. Now I’ve done eating spoons both good and bad but actually realising all the designing that goes into an eating spoon is rather interesting.

The second day was focused on learning how to use bent wood or “crooks”, as they are better known, to make spoons and importantly ladles. I had ago with a piece of birch crook to make a ladle and found that it was hard going. Once it was axed out I then had to learn how to use a bowl adze to do the rough hollowing. Using the bowl adze was good because I’ve always wanted to have ago but never quite understood the dynamics of the tool. Then came the hook knives to do the rest of the hollowing and in hindsight I wish I’d used the adze a bit more. I finished my ladle which still needs a bit of finishing but it should be rather nice.

On the third day my right froze up part way through. This was because of all the hard work of hollowing a kuksa, which is a real test of any carver’s stamina. It was an interesting project again as there were certain design aspects that I didn’t realise about like getting the edge to roll in, how you want the cup to stand, etc. it still needs a bit of finishing but is going to be a great drinking vessel. unfortunateley the camera run out of battery by then.

What was also good was that there was a basket maker from Cumbria (below) on the course as well who was camping next to me. We had some laughs and some good chats in the evenings. Phil if you’re reading this it was pleasure to meet you and I hope to see you and everyone else soon :-).
All in all, great fun, good company, good spoons, and an unforgettable experience.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

My summer of wood work has begun :-)!!!!

finally college has ended and my summer is here. have been so busy over the past 6 weeks i haven't had chance to blog much. but last week I turned my first bowls of summer. one is a piece of sycamore I left in a bag for a month which cuased some lovely patterns to come out as you can see. the second is a piece of laburnum I picked up in sheffield. although it turned out ok when I was cleaning up where the core snapped off a little hole appereared. was a tad annoyed but nothing that shavings and glue couldn't fix.

also this past week i've had some visitors to my workshop which was nice. they even left me a little message as well just so i won't forget them.

first time i've had visitors and i actually found it rather nice. they both enjoyed seeing how my lathe worked and all my tools aswell. And I gave them both a bowl which they liked. Its nice to know that there are still people out there who have an interest in crafts and enjoy the products that are made.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Spoons Tonight

Recently its been a bit difficult to get round to doing any wood working due to college work. But today although being at college I have had just enough time to carve up some spoons out of some sycamore. the centre one is fully complete just waiting to be oiled and the left and right ones just need to dry and have the final cuts applied.

Although I did have some difficulty with my carving knife blunting even after I had sharpened it. after half an hour of tinkering finally realised that it wasn't the edge blunting, the edge was actually rolling over and just needed some intensive honing. Am now getting into the habit of honing my carving knife after every use just make sure it stays in good condition.
having done the spoons today i've remembered how much fun they are to do and now want to just do spoons for the rest of the week! what can I say, its addictive.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Are Traditional Crafts A Curent Interest

Traditional crafts have been part of our culture since the Dark Age’s and before but is it important in today’s society; does society care enough about its heritage?

I believe the answer is yes........or a least progressive yes. Recently there has been a rise in the publicity of certain crafts within British society. a few days ago the BBC published an article about some of the last craftsmen in the country who are fighting to save the trades

also the guardians John Henley has also created a disappearing acts series looking at a select few traditional crafts that are part of Britain’s cultural heritage. This series is on-going and gives a good account of each craft (though if some what short).

Last year the telegraph also published an article on Britain’s last master cooper Alastair Simms. this article explained that when he joined there hundreds of coopers practising their trade across Britain but due to shortage in materials and rise in use of metal barrels that there is only one last master in England. A sad fact when coopering is a trade that dates back to Britain’s roman roots.

What I also want to talk about is a crafts person known as George Lailey. George Lailey was the last professional bowl turner in Britain from an unbroken chain of bowl turners before him spanning to over 4000 years. However George died in 1958 breaking the chain which in turn saw the extinction of bowl turning in Britain. If nothing is done to preserve traditional crafts then we face another generation of George Lailey’s and we stand to lose more than just bowls.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

A Special Bowl

Over the last week I have had ago at two bowls. the first one was the a bit of beech (right) which turned extremley well. only down side is when I tried to add decoration the tool dug in which was an annoyance after putting a decent finish on it. But looking at it now its not as bad i originally thought it was. the second bowl was a piece of willow (left) which I have been testing out recently with mixed results. I have found that green willow is difficult to get a good finish on but peel off the bark and leave to dry for a day or two removes some of the moisture which helps.

The special bowl that I oiled up last night was a quache made out of a piece of maple. It was pain turning the handles but was worth it for the end product. Even better was when I oiled it the wood also went a lovely orange colour as you can see.

also roughed out some spoons last night becuase its been a while since i've done one. They are both pieces of sycamore which were part of a small tree felled across the road from me. just wait for them to dry a little then i'll apply the finishing cuts.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

First Blog, and a New Log Store

Considering this is my first blog I feel obliged to introduce myself. My name is Robert Nicholson and I am a media student and a green wood enthusiast. I have done a spoon carving foundation course with robin wood and have had numerous tutorials with Paul Atkin on bowl turning on pole lathe. I have now got myself setup quite nicely with a workshop, pole lathe, spoon carving tools and hopefully soon a gas forge (fingers crossed).

After doing green wood working for over a year and being a media student I thought it was about time that I started blogging about my works and what I generally get up to in my workshop. The reasoning for this blog is that I want to show more of what I do and (hopefully) get across to people how enjoyable green wood work actually is XD.

This past two weeks I and my dad have been working on getting my workshop a wood store to keep all my material close to hand. My workshop was in fact the summer house that we had in the garden but has now been renovated by myself. The log store consists of two Pallets for the base to keep the mud and stone off the material. Next were the four uprights and cross member to attach the roof.

Next came the assembly of the roof. We constructed the frame out of timber ready to receive the panelling.

Once the frame was complete we attached the panelling. The panelling used was actually the old dividing wall from the summer house that I tore down. That’s recycling for you.

Next was just attaching it to the uprights and screwing it into the wall of my shed.

Fully constructed and now just needs some roofing felt to finish the job.