Wild

How does this
Plus this

Become this?

With a lot of hard work and lifting.  So we were rather envious of Dan’s:

May try to lighten up next year.

The pictures are from 2011’s Wild About Wood at Castle Howard, N Yorkshire. We had a good couple of days, cooking on charcoal in our dutch oven, demo-ing charcoal making, making a stool and a Viking cup, racing spinning top making and getting quite a few people to have a go.

Meanwhile back in the woods …

The days are shortening and the afternoon shadows are lengthening.  Been a good Summer for the moss:

Most forest-like.

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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?

Wild about Wood

Just returned from a good weekend at Kew at Castle Howard’s Wild about Wood.  Pretty busy with a joint display of turning on the pole lathe, making a stool, have a goes and three charcoal burns:

But Jane was there helping out, and so was Richard D (many thanks for sterling efforts both!)

The Friday burn turned out the usual amount of brown ends, but far too many on Saturday’s burn, emptied Sunday.  I’d closed it down too early, but the brown ends went back in and the outturn of Sunday’s burn, opened today was just two bags of charcoal and NO brown ends at all.  It was a little tricky watching the burn smoke colour and chatting to people and doing demos, sometimes all at the same time.  However, the emphasis of the weekend was education and several groups of people went away knowing much more about charcoal than they did when they came in.  A couple of people also learnt the difference between sawdust and shavings (and they were not children!)  Bit showery on Saturday, but a lovely sunny day Sunday with lots of visitors.

We camped in our classic 2nd hand de Waard dutch tent and cooked all-in-one-pot meals each night in the dutch oven.

The arboretum is really well laid out in what used to be parkland with mature oaks and chestnuts, and much more recent plantings of trees from around the world.  Lots of different oaks etc.  Here’s a sample of the trees and vistas:

The lathe was set up in a little hornbeam copse.

We also had a surprise visit from two German journeymen carpenters who were looking for work at The Arboretum.

They were wearing the traditional carpenter’s dress and were fully trained craftsmen looking for further experience by travelling. You can read more about the German journeyman system here on Robin Wood’s blog.

Onwards!

Just about caught up with myself!  Now just need to get a replacement Landy, complete with electric death chair for the unawares (only joking) and replenish my lesser used tools (like a tool bag for instance!)  Finish off the dining chairs, small table and then it’s full speed ahead Christmas. May even do some logging soon, oh yes, must get a petrol/oil can for the saw.

Here’s the next project starting up:

Improvised long steamer.

I’m making a log hod (or tote as it’s called in the American steam bending book I’m using).  I added the bag on the end of my normal steamer which was only made to take chair backs.  It kind of worked but I think the end of the hod bows didn’t really get hot enough, even though they were in for an hour.  Here are the two bows drying:

This one failed.

Always a danger, I think this one may be due to uneven thinning with the draw knife.

The fibres couldn’t bend enough on the outside and gave way:

This one’s better (not perfect, a knot has spoiled the top bend), but it will do as a prototype for testing use at home.

I’ve learnt from this though, proper extension to steamer needed, clear timber and thinner, more even work on the bow profile.  I think I’ll change the riving out of the timber 90 degrees and see whether that improved the bending evenness.

Here’s the penultimate dining chair back I glued up yesterday in the woods

Today I’m finishing off  #4 and sizing the side rungs for #5 above in the luxury of home – it’s a bit too muddy at the bodgery for weaving seats.

Wild About Wood

Just back from Castle Howard, North Yorkshire where I met Saul Blenkarn, swill maker.  He’s from Hexham and if you want to contact him his phone number is 07818 452 322. He was taught by Owen Jones. Beautiful baskets and a great way of displaying them

I loved his simple shelter, makes mine look way over the top, I feel a redesign coming on for next year’s dos.

I had a great pitch, just in at the entrance, in a grove of small Hornbeams, the first stand visitors encountered, and they all certainly seemed to enjoy my true bodger weekend, turning out the rungs for a set of 6 dining chairs – that’s a whole lot of rungs, nearly got them all done though.  The children were very interested as always, and one of them after having a late go on the lathe, helped us pick up the horse shavings.

This was the first woody event at Kew at Castle Howard arboretum, and seemed to be a success as they will be holding it again next year.

Back to Strid tomorrow, hope the midge repellent fire is not required again

Little shelters

Today I’ve been working at my wife’s school teaching knots and shelter building, miniature versions of mine, that I put up for the knotting sessions and in case one of the thunder storms knocking around paid us a visit.

It was fun, but pretty hard work getting all my stuff there, setting up, getting packs ready for the children:

Taking the morning session’s tents down and then clearing all away at the end of the very hot day.  Glad to have a shower when I arrrived home, earlier than usual, but started at 7:05am.  I’ll put a few more pictures up when I get them from the school’s camera. Here they are:

Here are a couple of pictures from May I found on my phone:

That is Herb Paris, one indication of ancient woodland (which Strid is).

And this is the edible Morell – unfortunately rather too fly-blown by the time I got to it.