Saturday, December 29, 2012

Back to work

with a vengence.

The gallery opens again in a month or two so its turn out stock to sell to the tourists.

Mostly small stuff. Once those are done, I will be able to get back to making 'interesting' stuff.

In amongst the average can be a little gem though and its sometimes the simplest things. This little pear bowl is so ordinary in principle but it begs to be picked up and the inner curve is just perfect. Might have to slip it onto the 'keep' shelf without my wife noticing!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Time to play

Well, Christmas is coming but I seem to have dragged these out to far to sell them this year.

I guess I'll just have to play with them myself - what a shame.

The three wheeler still has to have its exhausts and maybe some headlights and a spare wheel - maybe!

Top view now has the exhaust but I'm stopping there!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A better class of bug

I have been living in interesting times!!

The craft fair was terrific and I sold loads of stuff - well pleased.

It was then off to the UK for a couple of days to try and sort out the ears. The French don't have the right programs for my old hearing aids.

They were duly adjusted and turned up. One has now given up the ghost and the other distorts. Not pleased.

New ones will cost more than we have to spare with very little help from our health care insurance.

The other good news is that I picked up a super resilient strain of a flu like something or other. I have been hacking away and generally dripping stuff for a solid two weeks without any respite.

Finally dragged along to the quack on Saturday and was prescribed the same anti-biotic they use on MRSA. So far, there has been a definite improvement but its hanging on in there.

Oh, and our old wood burning stove is leaking smoke through the oven. Goody.

At least the lathe is still going round except..... its not accurate enough to do the sort of toy car I wanted. So its back to simpler stuff and 'normal' work.

Ho hum!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Back to round objects

Been back on the lathe this week as I have a craft fayre coming up and I am a bit short of stock.

So its been mostly yew and one non-yew forms. After spending ages doing complicated stuff, its quite nice to get back to basics and just concentrate of shape and finish. I seem to be doing things in reverse order to the norm but then I always was contrary.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Had a friend pop in this morning as we were 'processing' some livestock and they were met with the following scene.

As usual its "Oh how could you?"

As always my answer is "Do you eat meat?"

"So how come you couldn't?"

This is real life, not lived vicariously for you by someone else who keeps you sheltered from unpleasantness.

Our birds are treated well, we know what they eat and that nothing unpleasant has been injected or added, they are used to being handled and we dispatch them as fast as humanly possible. 

On top of that, they taste wonderful. Anything is better than the plastic wrapped, plastic tasting birds from Tesco.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

RIP Minnie

Sad to say, our little famale tortie was killed last week.

She had been staying out more and more and we were not too surprised that she didn't come home for a day or two. A friend told us that he had seen a cat on the road and, sure enough, it was Minnie. From the damage it was obviously a quick death but it still hurts.

We miss her and so does her brother, who seems at a total loss. They used to play all the time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Time to play

In between doing important stuff, I was asked to make a weather vane. Several houses round here have planes and a bit tacky they are too.

However, it seemed a good opportunity to have a go at something a bit better, so as I had a sheet of exterior ply, I made a generic sort of second world war fighter. The plies give the opportunity to create a cockpit shape and fin without any carving etc.

As I liked the look of it, I thought I'd make us one too. So one sort of hurricanish thing and a Mosquito. Not intended to be scale models but to capture the essence.

I sprayed ours silver for now but will do a full paint job this winter when it comes in for a rest from the weather.

It looks great with both props wizzing round. I am told I have done it all wrong as the props counter rotate. Apparently Merlins only went in one direction!!!! If you won't tell anyone, neither will I.

Whilst we are being picky, I am sure someone will say that the Mozzie had three bladed props!! As it happens there was a four bladed version so there (not a lot of people know that). Also, they are much easier to make!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I'm allowed to take some more pics as the bed is made!!

Bedroom 1 in all its glory bar the curtains. Suitable rings are being delivered by some friends of ours from the UK!! For some reason, the kind with small metal rings attached to the big wooden rings seem rare out here.

The door is a bit pale as its new wood. The other pine has darkened to almost match the floor in three or four years and I'd rather not stain it but let nature take its course.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

This.... this.........

....equals this.....

So bedroom 2 is almost there. Just the window seat to do and I can get back to some turning.

Talking of which, the display shelves in this bedroom is going to be one of the main areas for showing off some of my turnings, with my UK Workshop winning vase and the WOW cover form taking pride of place. Still proud of those.

I still find it hard to part with things that take up so much of my time but the income this year has mostly made up for it. However, there are a few pieces that will never go.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bedroom 1 done

Further to the previous post, we are now inhabiting our refurbished bedroom and very restful it is too.

The French don't seem to do decent skirting these days, just using a plain flat board and a very small one at that.

I ended up making some out of T&G flooring and making a top moulding on the router table. I have always liked a good, tall skirting board, it looks as if it means it.

I did take some pics of the furniture in the room but Ronnie complained that I hadn't made the bed so that will have to come later.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

ta muchly

I made one goblet as an experiment and sent it to the local gallery. A very kind French gentleman decided he liked it. Sadly, he requested three more as well!! I say sadly as it was not an exactly straightforward process and I never like making more than one of anything.

However, the usual lure of money worked its magic and I managed to get off my posterior and into the workshop. I did one a day to try and keep the interest up and I can now do something else.

Another sadly coming up as the something else is orders for FOURTEEN of another style of goblet. Oh woe is me.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I feel like a criminal

I have just broken one of my cardinal rules. Old houses have this patina that shows their age and reflects the passage of time and the people who have lived in them.

We are in the process of putting new ceilings up in the bedrooms. Tongue and groove was a 60s/70s horror story best removed. But...... the floors in both main bedrooms is the most beautiful pitch pine with a wonderful deep colour made by generations of waxing and oiling.

In the biggest room, there has been considerable movement and many of the joints were now steps. It made cleanbing and polishing a nightmare as the mop kept catching and leaving bits of wool everywhere.

So I took the belt sander to it and removed the work of ages!! It is now very smooth indeed (probably get complaints that the rugs slide) Two coats of linseed oil and turps done and a good wax to come. It all looks a bit fresh and new but is still a good colour. Hopefully, it won't be too long before it looks a bit well used again.

One good reason for redecorating was that the bedrooms were painted in gloss blue!! We've lived with them like this for six years and thought it was about time for the paint to go.

NOTE TO SELF - Clean the camera lens.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Its that time of year again

Its time to string up the onions, garlic and shallots. Usually, we have them hanging in our middle room and I regularly bang my head on them in passing. This year we have a proper storage room with opening grill so not only will they - hopefully - last longer, but my head will be saved a few bruises.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wooden art

I never cease to be amazed at the difference in attitude to wooden 'art' in various countries. In the States, its taken as seriously as any other kind. In the UK and to a huge degree in France it seems a very poor relation to other forms. Pottery, painting, 'installations' (for god's sake!!) is considered deeply meaningful but wood, especially turning doesn't seem to register.

Why is this? It takes the same amount of skill, perception, artistic ability etc etc. Maybe its the link to practicality. Where is the art in making plates or bowls and why have them in wood when there are better, more modern materials??

I would not like to align myself with the section of the turning community that mock 'the brown and round brigade' but I can see what might make them feel that way. There is room for a beautifully made piece of simple turning, showing off the grain to best effect with an immaculate finish but..... those of us who look for more can find it very frustrating to find the lack of enthusiasm for our creations. A few are lucky or just so talented that they succeed but I am sure there are many more starving in their garret for lack of appreciation.

Anyway, I continue to try and find what its is I am seeking. Its just that I don't know what it is yet.

Here is a sculpture. The wood was rescued from the firewood pile where it had been thrown after making a large bowl. It is the direct cutting from the bandsaw, obviously cleaned up a bit!! I don't know what the wood is, but the figure and colour is fantastic. terrible rotten but that has been half the cause of the appearance.

The reaction on the UK was largely notable for its absence. In the USA, there was more understanding and appreciation of its 'whimsey'. However, I feel it is as genuine piece of art as any other and if I can't get the price I'm after at the gallery, it comes back home and lives where it will be given a place of honour! So there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back to proper jobs

At last a bit of time to just turn what I fancy. One of my cordless drills expired in a cloud of smoke and I took it apart, as one does, to see if it was fixable. Nope - a melted mess.

The gearbox looked interesting so I wondered if I could incorporate any of the metal bits into a turning. Cut some box. Turned a spigot for the gear and just sort of let it develop from there with no preconceived idea of where it would end up.

I now am unable to decide if I prefer it with or without the gear. Its not fixed so whoever buys it can choose.

I suppose its a gearbox now!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Its an antique - honest?

An antiques dealer would no doubt describe it as 'circa' or 'in the style of'.

I'm sure a forward looking carpenter could have anticipated the coming IT revolution and could have made such a piece of furniture, who knows who it could have been.

Closed, it looks quite neat but open it up and my usual chaos reigns. I thought I would have more space but as usual, I soon fill up any available nook and cranny.

I think I use every piece of scrap wood in the workshop. There are at least four or five different types of wood plus the panels are made from ply left over from our trailer.

Its nice to hide the screen away from dust and the cats at night. The makers of the screen were very kind and used the same size and thread mounts as those used for kitchen handles. I have a few hundred left over from the 'old' days.

Quite enjoyed it but must get back to turning as the local gallery opened today and sold the first piece within ten minutes. looking hopeful there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The joys of two pin bowling or an artistic statement by Herbert the Cat

I had just shown two of my tall turnings to a customer and put them carefully in the middle of a table. Berty took one look at them, took a good long run up and...........


........after taking a deep breath, I picked the pieces up off the floor and surveyed the damage. A few more splits in the edges and a snapped shaft or two. Ta Herb. He obviously thought they could be improved and wadya know, I think he was right. They are much shorter now but I prefer them. Perhaps the customers will now please buy them instead of passing them by!

Before of one and after of two!

The pale one had the shaft destroyed more or less so I added a piece of box that was going to be a candlestick!!

Its a bit galling when a cat has better design sense than the 'master' (ha! that'll be the day)

This is Herbert with two of the downstairs tenants.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Turn turn turn

At last, some time to myself. Whilst its been fun helping Ronnie with the shows and making gypsy caravans and all that stuff, it calms the soul to get back to standing at the lathe and just letting things happen. I know that many turners plan what they are going to do but for me its just 'bung the wood on the lathe and see what happens'. This tends to produce rather more free form results I feel.

Anyway, here's a few to get me back in the swing. Probably in the wrong order.

Some pie dollys made from old beech worktop. The tops were bent to hell and left a few cracks which were duly filled with superglue and dust. These are off the Spain, Ronnie having failed in her bid to keep them from the new owner!!

One of two huge slices from an unknown tree. It had been left out too long and was rotten to the core but off the bandsaw, there was some interesting burr so I decided to carry on. The other slice resisted all attention and is on the firewood pile.

A piece of wet fig - turned reasonably thin and left to dry out. Very quickly as it happens but it split, twisted and generally moved. Like the wood, like the result.

A piece of yew chosen at random from the ridiculously large pile of the stuff filling up one end of the barn. Great colour this one but there is a split from a branch in there to add a bit of character too.

All this has spurred me on to get the air tool and compressor out and retake the path I was on before all the back therapy. SEVEN MONTHS since I was a turner. Yikes, how the time has flown.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In a rush as usual

I wonder why it is that we all leave things to the last minute. We have some excuse as stuff we ordered took ages to arrive but even so, I suspect its us really.

We have an important flower show to do this weekend so naturally this week's list has included fitting a towbar to the car and converting the old trailer tent into a miniature gypsy caravan so all the climbing roses on their frames can fit inside and be protected. We've only known about the show for a year or so.

I am not particularly looking forward to the experience as I've never towed anything before and this backing thing seems a little tricky. I suspect a bit of practice out in the garden might pay off.

I am also trying to get an 'antique' computer desk made, do some antique repairs and, if I'm really lucky, get some time on the lathe.

Its a good thing I'm retired.

Friday, April 27, 2012

This is after

I forgot to take a before shot but this little desk was a complete wreck. eaten out with woodworm, one back leg half eaten and the other missing, no top or back and no cornice on the top section. As with all French country furniture the bits you don't see were done with the roughest old wood imaginable so I used some old roofing timber for that and it matches the few bits of original that were left. Lots of new bits later, a bit of stain and lacquer and its done. Shame I managed to get one back leg a couple of degrees out of vertical but then, thats character init?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Slow down, you're going too fast.....

... ye gods I hate this getting old bit. I REALLY object to the whole idea. Nobody offered a glimpse of what it would be like before we signed up. In fact, I don't even remember having a contract, I reckon I just got dumped.

Everything I try and do takes for ever. I'm only 65, what will it be like when I'm 90? OK I know that it the back that is making things worse but even so, its very frustrating. Work a bit, sit a bit, work a bit, move around a bit, work a bit......... grrrrrrrr.

If I believed in anything outside the here and now, I'd be having a few words in his/her/its ear - if he/she/it had one.

Its a good thing I don't have to worry about an hourly rate any more - I reckon it would be about €1.

Friday, April 20, 2012

and then there were two..

.. right then two legs done. Just the cornice to make and its back to the land of those with income. It has been suggested to me that the one in the middle is not very well finished!! Must try harder.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


,,,the lathe is going round. I can't believe its been seven months since I did any work. Thank you back.

Anyway, I am restoring an old walnut bureau and both back legs were eaten away - one was missing and the other fell off as I moved it. There is a bit of wood to replace here and there!!!

This 'ere is half of one back leg. I am swapping between the lathe and the floor in the utility room so the back doesn't spend too long in one position. This morning the leg, this afternoon the floor. Hopefully I can finish the one leg tomorrow so at least the bureau can hop. Should have it walking by the end of the week.

Monday, April 16, 2012


First rhubarb crumble of the year. last year we had to put all the water on the roses and leave the fruit and veg to care for itself. So we didn't even get one helping as the plant was too weak.

However, this spring its looking good and strong so I am allowed to eat it. A small raspberry one to use up the rest of the mix too.

How I like my puds.