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Posts Tagged ‘craft’

‘I wonder if you could repair my garden table?’  That’s how the conversation started, and I agreed to take a look at the table. As you can see, it’s seen better days. Under normal circumstances this table is barely firewood mainly compost.

Sometimes you get attached to a particular piece, a bit like a fire it helps to instill a sense of place. I guessed this table was like that so I agreed to build a new frame for the owner and see what if anything could be salvaged.

The first job was to make the posts and rungs, coppiced Sweet Chestnut in this case which stands a chance of lasting longer than the original hazel. Convenient size all round, 18 inch rungs, 14 inch posts, top rung (table top) at 12 inches and rung spacing of 3 inches and 6 inches between top and bottom rungs all around. Mortices cut with an augur bit and tenons turned on the polelathe (just in case I need to make another one).

New frame, original table top. Even managed to salvage a few of the original brass screws.

a coat of Linseed Oil (only the best local fresh pressed on the farm linseed oil!) and it’s a new bench. I have the feeling that this bench might become a bit like my favourite beetle (a large wooden mallet) which has only had 4 new heads and 3 new handles!

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‘Tis the season to be pressing; apples that is. Before we left for Gower I managed to press most of the apples that I’d gathered from our garden and scrumped from various friends and neighbours. These are quite early apples, Early Worcester, Bramley, Tom Putt and a fair few unknowns that all go into the cider. But most apples, especially those used for cider are ready later in the season and the main cider pressing season is only just about to start.

I pressed about 300kg of apples this year – good exercise – but if you only have a sack or so of apples and no mill(to tear up the apples) or press then the good news is that there is still a way for you to make cider. Community Pressings are becoming popular and they are a great recreation of the travelling presses and cider rings which used to operate in communities throughout Southern England where cider making has a history at least as long as that of beer.

The local (Blackdown – that’s the West Sussex Blackdown) National Trust team is holding a Community Pressing at their Swan Barn Farm headquarters behind Haslemere High Street (access from Collards Lane ) this Saturday 1st October  10:30 to 3pm so take along your unwanted sacks of apples and turn them into juice or ferment the juice on into cider!

The press used by the Trust is a vintage Sussex press from Gospel Green, at least 100 years old and superbly restored as is the scratter (or mill) you can see here in the foreground . I can claim to have had a hand in the restoration of the mill as it features two handles turned on my lathe. Photo courtesy of the Speckled Wood blog where you can find more details of the community pressing or contact the Trust at Swan Barn Farm.

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Last weekend I ran the last two polelathe courses for this season at the Weald & Downland museum. The forecast was not brilliant so we opted to go undercover in the brick drying shed just in case – though in the event the weather was not too bad. A bit of a challenge to work in the drying shed as it  was not built with polelathes in mind, but the timber framed surroundings matched the woodturning.

On Sunday we had a full complement of six, as we normally do, for the ‘introduction’ to polelathe turning’ and to my delight eveyone did very well producing at least one turned item. I could not have asked for a better group and the day went very quickly.

The course is a good introduction if you are thinking of building a lathe – I should know, that’s how I started out.  With two of my own lathes as well as the museum’s older style there was plenty to stimulate plans for lathe building.

Neil was booked onto the course by his wife after I met them and they saw the polelathe at the Swan Barn farm open day in Haslemere at the end of July. At the end of the day we thought it only right that she should suffer a little as well and try the lathe – though it doesn’t look to me that she suffered too much!

Just occasionally you get someone who has a flair for working with wood and that happened on this course. Sarah had been keen to try the polelathe for a while and finally managed to  get on a course.  As a working woodcarver she had no problem with the chisels. Clearly a perfectionist, the skew chisel did pose a challenge but once she relaxed into the rhythm  a rolling pin and a door wedge were rapidly made and then she started work on a chair!

Having run the last course for the year it felt a little like the end of term!  But planning is already underway for next year’s courses and some new lathes for the museum so we’ll be making the most of the winter.

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The High Street is not my normal habitat these days. But I came  to see Mervyn Mewis’ excellent display of his woody creations at Godalming Museum ‘Out of the Woods’.

I rate Merv’s skills very highly and I think the combination of  Trees, Wood and Music is compelling.  The exhibition is a  great mix of  wood shapes and textures.  The natural shape, grain and character of the wood plays a big part in Merv’s work. Sadly I only had my phone camera with me so the photos leave a lot to be desired.

The exhibition will stay on at the Museum throughout August. If you are in the Godalming area don’t forget to take a look!  There will also be a range of activities and events (mainly Saturday’s) throughout the month based upon Mervyn’s Exhibition, trees, music and wood. Take a look at the museum website here for details – Godalming Museum – Out of the Woods Events.

But as well as a tree surgeon and woodworker Merv is also a talented Luthier and for me the instruments that Merv makes and plays are the icing on the cake. You may have seen or heard Merv playing them with Catherine as a duo – if not they will be playing in Godalming on Saturday 13th August (details on the museum website).  They are traditional instruments and you don’t get to see them very often let alone hear them played. I think this one is called a Bowed Psaltery?

The Hurdy Gurdy – I would love to have heard this one being played but unfortunately it was on display in the cabinet.

……..and the hammered dulcimer. Well done Merv an excellent exhibition. But the music didn’t end there because when I spoke to Merv the day before he reminded me to bring my guitar…..oh dear…..

Somehow on the way back to the station I found myself in the Star with Merv and the dulcimer, Catherine and the rest of the Monday evening folk session. As far as I can remember I’ve not played folk music anywhere other than around a campfire at a woody event before. So playing  in a pub with other musicians was quite an event for me – a real Coming out of the Woods for me as well.   They were very kind and tolerant to put up with me! I really do promise to do a little more practise, and if only I could remember all the words…….

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