Monkey puzzle wood.
A couple of months ago, Wendy tipped me off about a Monkey Puzzle tree that was being taken down nearby. I went round an bought a main bit of the trunk from the tree surgeons. We put it on my trailer and brought it home. A couple of weeks later I found the time to turn three bowls from the wood. I have been wanting to turn Monkey Puzzle wood for some time ever since seeing another turners efforts and feeling that he had missed the plot a bit and I could do better. I felt that if one could keep the ring of knots running along the bowl from the centre right to the perimeter, without losing the shape then it would look fabulous and remain stable. These are the largest, the second largest and the smallest from the trunk. There are probably another eight to go, if they sell at our open studio next month, I will make more, but I am making chairs again and preparing the boat for Toberonochy.
More than twenty years ago I made a leather deck chair. It was an experimental piece and not properly finished off. I altered it a bit to improve the comfort by cutting the leather and it sat in our sitting room as an extra chair. Rupert saw it and asked me to make him one. The local tannery had closed down so I went to Bristol to get more leather. We took our bicycles and rode up to the Clifton Bridge, round the dockland and back. I drew the chair life size on a sheet of plywood, cut a former and sawed the laminates from some ( not very) rippled ash and glued them together.
I put the chair together over the next couple of weeks while fastening the wire mesh onto the roof in the afternoons. It was too cold and wet in the mornings, better in the workshop. I developed a cats cradle system for adjusting the rake. It surprised me with the comfort. Rupert liked it too and ordered another. Goody.
We have had our open weekends. Our Co- exhibitors have been fantastic, we have had a steady stream of visitors and it has been a good time for socialising and also selling. The weather was good and the event tent outside has been a great place to chat and partake of Tea, coffee, cake, savories, beer and wine depending on the time of day.
Show is now over and the daily tools of our lives are slowly being reintroduced into the house. We will miss the empty floors, just as now I miss the filing cabinet, the box of maps, the place to put the mobile phone while charging, the table in the corner etc. I wish the planning would come through so we could get on with putting in the underfloor heating that was supposed to be completed before the exhibition.
I must get the boat ready for the summer. It should have happened in April.
Syann and I are holding an open studio. We have done some serious clearing out and redecorating in the home. Trips to the tip, books and filing cabinets in the shed. My drawing board has made it up to my attic in the workshop. Our friends who are guesting on our show have helped us a lot with decorating.Last weekend, Saturday was packed. Sunday less so but still good. This weekend is due to be hot. Come round, even if it is just a glass of juice on your way to the beach! this is more or less our ad. in Crafts magazine.
I turned the front of my vessel. A lovely plank of rippled ash running to the blonde sapwood on one side. It is about a metre in length by 400. I drew on a pattern of arc and radians. Carved a pattern of vee chevrons over the next few days. Tried to turn the back off, but the wood had twisted and turning had changed from tricky to silly. 0ne metre of wood on the faceplate comes past slowly. Thock, thock,thock. I took it off and planed it to form. Went through the grades of abrasive, filled the screwholes, fussed the face a bit more and a coat or four of oil. A clear evening, so it was down to the industrial estate with a broom and a camera to take some photos. Please visit my new web site on nickbarberton.com.