Sunday, 28 September 2014

Elvaston Woodland Festival

Yesterday we enjoyed a lovely sunny day in the beautiful setting of the Elvaston Woodland Festival. This is the first time that we've attended this particular show and it is definitely something special. The event takes place in the grounds of Elvaston Castle and the demonstrators are scattered around the parks and woodland. It's also free entrance, which means that the local dog walkers attended for their usual saturday exercise, but could come and check out the stands as well.

Richard warming up after a cold night's camping
 This is perhaps one of the elements that I found most interesting and enjoyable as there were lots of people there that hadn't come specifically for the event, therefore you have an opportunity to reach out to an entirely different audience. We were demonstrating spoon carving and you could tell that some people were perplexed by the very idea of using wooden bowls and spoons and were even more surprised to see someone making them with an axe.

Testing out the goods with my breakfast
Unfortunately Richard had to leave at midday, which meant that I didn't get an opportunity to take a walk around to see the other demonstrators. So I'm afraid the pictures are all of me and Richard posing around our stand. Robin Wood was there with his lathe and Steve Tomlin was displaying the wooden ladders that had been made on a course at the same venue the week before the festival. It was also nice to meet some of the members of the East Midlands Bodgers Group.

My new workshop apron (made by Laura) featuring a handy axe loop
A little bit of whittling
Making stop cuts on the biggest spoon in the world

Monday, 15 September 2014

Old Spoon Carving Article

I'm an avid reader of Chris Schwarz's blog at Lost Art Press. Check out his most recent offering on wooden spoons here.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Bark Sheaths

Most of my carving tools are kept in a roll, but I like to give them a sheath in order to protect the blade better and prevent them from cutting through the canvas roll. The sheaths are all made from birch bark. It is a technique I first learned from Del Stubb's website Pinewood Forge. The next time I saw this kind of sheath was on Jarrod Stonedahl's blog. He showed some old ones with a slightly different style.

I was also lucky to be able to do a course on making them with Jarrod at the first Spoonfest in 2012. They are very straight forward to make and effective too. Birch bark is the most common material, but other materials can also be used. The first ones I made were with cardboard from a cereal box. Today I decided to have a go using Willow bark as it is easier to get hold of in the right thickness here in the UK.

You don't need much in the way of equipment. Just a sharp knife, a pair of scissors and a ruler.

Cut a strip of bark that is a little wider than the blade of the knife it will fit and four times as long. Fold the strip in half and then fold each end in to meet the middle. I've never had to do it with Birch bark, but i found it necessary to soak the Willow bark first.

When you flatten the strip back out it should now be in four roughly equal sections.

Make a cut lengthways along the middle of the two centre sections. This will be the outside of the sheath. Don't cut the end sections as these will be on the inside of the sheath.

You now need a thin strip of bark about twice the length of the original strip. this will be used to wrap around the sheath. Begin by tucking it in-between the outside and the inside of one side of the sheath.

You then proceed to wrap it around the sheath, weaving in and out of the cut portion. At this point I realised that it is quite difficult to describe this process in words, so I decided to do a short video of this stage.

So there you have it. hopefully that all makes sense. The Willow bark worked well and I'm sure there are other alternatives too. There are lots of variations you can try as well. I'm now going to experiment with using food dyes to colour the different strips.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

You've got to roll with it

It's been a while since I last posted so I thought I'd do a quick one just to say what I've been up to. I haven't done any turning recently as I'm trying to sort out the workshop ready for a few classes I'm doing in the next couple of weeks, but I have made the biggest tool roll in the history of the world.

This is to house all of my eyed augers. There's nothing in the picture to give a sense of scale, but the leather I've used is about half the back of a three seater sofa.

Along the same theme of tool storage, i also managed to make a sheath for my new Robin Wood axe.

I've yet to really put this axe through it's paces so I'll hold off writing a review till I've spent a bit more time with it, but so far I'm impressed.

As the weather was nice this afternoon I spent a bit of time in the garden with the two oldest boys and we managed to harvest some veg from the garden. Our tomato plant has been very fruitful this year and Jesse just snacks off of it. Our courgettes were a bit of a let down though and haven't really produced anything, but then today, on closer inspection, I found a giant marrow hiding in the bushes.

My first attempt to photograph the veg was sabotaged by Saxon trying to get hold of the few tomatoes I'd managed to rescue.

In the end I had to just hand them over.