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Bowl Turning

Bowl Turning

by stuart murdoch ~ 5 January, 2016 ~ comments welcome

Bowl turning is an ancient craft, almost as important as the Blacksmith. Here is a brief description of the basics.   First we select a blank to be turned and mark it out for size. I prefer to do the back shaping first and also I need to able to cut a tenon to the back to fit my chuck. To do this I first mount the blank on to a face plate. Then once on the lathe, I do some general shaping of the back and tenon.

Next, once I have a tenon and have balanced out the blank, I transfer the piece over to my 4 jaw chuck. Read more...

Carr painting

Emily Carr – painter of trees and woodlands in Canada.

by Angus ~ 22 January, 2015 ~ 2 comments

Fabulous paintings of trees and woodlands are currently on display at Dulwich Picture Gallery where there is an exhibition of the work of Emily Carr (1871 - 1945) They typically depict the native trees of the Pacific coast of Canada where Carr grew up and later settled, having first studied art in London, San Francisco and France. She used broad brush strokes and vivid colours in a style heavily influenced by her time spend in Europe in 1910/11 studying the post impressionists.

Emily Carr was working shortly after the Canadian epidemics of the 1860s which killed half the indigenous population. As a result local people developed both an awareness of the fragility of life and a heightened concern for the natural environment. As Carr said, "it is wonderful to feel the grandest of Canada in the raw." Of course one has to remember, too, that people at that time were very much closer to nature in their daily lives: for example travel for Emily Carr would have been mostly by horse, food would have been more seasonal and without air conditioning the weather would have been much more immediate.


Turning a pen - in wood

Turning a pen – in wood

by stuart murdoch ~ 19 December, 2014 ~ 8 comments

One of my passions is wood turning, from bowls and pots to spindles and tool handles but just lately it has become pen making, with a few specialist tools and lots of off cuts of wood within minutes you can create a wonderful item that will give much enjoyment.    So here I will share a little how to and hope that it helps others to find the joy I get from making these,

First we start with the style of pen , there are many on the market from slim line to euro, some are fat some are thin and they all start out life as a kit which usually consists of brass tubes, a tip, a ring and an end, from there the next thing is to decide on wood or acrylic or wood, although I have made both i prefer wood its far more tactile and brings a personal touch to the pen. Read more...

Taking up a Green Woodworking course - at York Wood Crafts

Taking up a Green Woodworking course – at York Wood Crafts

by Paul Morton ~ 23 October, 2014 ~ one comment

After we bought our woodland, we were given £300 by Woodlands.co.uk for a course and I chose a green woodworking course for two of us - me and my 11-year old son, Thomas. The course is designed to give beginners a taste of a variety of the skills and techniques that are used in green woodworking.  Before booking the course, I spoke to Ben at York Woodcrafts about the suitability of the course for my son; and was really pleased that Thomas could attend as he already had some tool handling skills.

During this 2-day course, our main project was each making a stool and as part of this we learnt how to select wood and understand the wood shrinkage from its green state. We split wood (Cleaving) with a Froe (a splitting chisel) and a Beetle (wooden mallet) - which really helps you understand how wood grain can be twisted, depending on where its grown. Read more...

Making walking sticks - from stems picked out of the woodlands

Making walking sticks – from stems picked out of the woodlands

by Angus ~ 3 October, 2014 ~ 11 comments

Peter Jones and his sons make walking sticks on a serious scale using sticks they come across in the woods, where they do their forestry work.  They use chestnut, silver birch, oak and hazel.  But they avoid using willow, as it goes brittle once it's aged.  Apart from finding the right stick to work on they need a steamer for bending the tops of the walking sticks and a good supply of sealant and varnish for protecting the finished sticks.

"Honeysuckle makes the best twist sticks" advises out Peter Jones, who comes across a lot of twisted stems in Kent and East Sussex.  As a result, he is able to trade these with fellow stick makers in more northern English areas - they give him carved tops for walking sticks in exchange for good twisted shanks.  But even among twisted sticks there is variety: the slower growing trees such as holly and oak twist more slowly whilst the fast-growing chestnut twists quickly.  Though he also corrected me pointing out that the maker of walking sticks should really be called a "stick dresser" Read more...

Woodlands and forests in Shakespeare's plays

Woodlands and forests in Shakespeare’s plays

by Angus ~ 16 May, 2014 ~ 7 comments

William Shakespeare grew up in a leafy part of the country, Stratford-upon-Avon, and woodlands and forests were a very important part of many of his plays.  Forests were large areas governed by a different set of laws and they could include  marshes, bogs, fen, pasture, cultivated land and woodland.  Famously, Shakespeare made the "moving" of a woodland a pivotal point in his play 'Macbeth' when Birnam wood "moves" to Dunsinane as soldiers use branches as a camouflage in their assault on Macbeth's castle.  But he uses woodland settings in many other plays and the forest carries deeply symbolic meanings Read more...

Noises of a Didgeridoo Maker

Noises of a Didgeridoo Maker

by stuart murdoch ~ 11 May, 2014 ~ one comment

For many years now,  I have been making Didgeridoos. It all started with a friend of mine, who taught me how to make them. Sadly, he has now passed away, but he has left his legacy with me.  As a hedge-layer, I can gather an abundance of woody material, collecting them from path clearance work, coppicing and other woodland management tasks.  I try to ensure that I keep as environmentally friendly as possible by only taking sticks that are going to be cut out anyway.

The development of the Didgeridoo

Spoon Carving - with Barn the Spoon

Spoon Carving – with Barn the Spoon

by Liz ~ 6 March, 2014 ~ one comment

There is something wonderful about creating an object that is functional, and it is particularly wonderful to create one that serves a function as fundamental as eating.  To be able to do that using just the strength and skill of your hands is very precious. For a number of years, I had dabbled in whittling and spoon carving, and could already hack out a reasonably spoon-shaped object but,  becoming increasingly frustrated by my inability to make more progress, I needed further guidance.  It was time to choose a course.

If you own a wood, or have access to woodland materials, it is important to do justice to those materials however you choose to use them, so I wanted to learn from a master craftsman. A search of the internet revealed that Barnaby Carder was delivering courses within easy travelling distance.  Read more...

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