There is a great new event this weekend at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. I will be carving Anglo Saxon eating spatulas, apparently when the Romans left they took their spoons with them and were not commonly used in England until early Medieaval times ! but then I may be wrong as there doesnt seem to be much reliable information available on the subject.
We will be running a willow course at Peasenhall in Suffolk where you can come and learn to make a willow plant support. The one day course will introduce you to the basics of willow weaving or if you are more experienced you can add a sculptural element to your plant support. It will take place at the village hall on Sunday the 13th March from 11-4pm and include all materials and a light lunch. The cost will be £40 and to book a place please send a cheque to ;
Jon Warnes 12 Tomline Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk, IP11 7QW
I bought this DVD “How to make a Welsh stick chair” by Hugh Roberts a couple of years ago and never got round to having a look at it ! Over the new year I rediscovered it and started watching. Its a two disc set packed full of information and takes you right through the entire process of making a traditional chair from material selection, tools and their use and sharpening through to assembly and sharpening. I have seen a number of Hugh’s chairs and know him to be a really skilled and fine maker. I am not sure if he still running courses but if he is and you want to make a Welsh stick chair it may be worth checking out.
If you are interested in Welsh stick chairs it is really worth reading “Welsh stick chairs” by John Brown. it is packed full of information and great to read even if you never intend to make a chair !
After the first table I couldn’t resist making a few more Pobble tables in slightly different sizes and heights. They look good in groups and the diffent heights. The middle one is in Pippy Oak and the others in Elm. They all have legs turned from fresh Scottish Ash.
I am just working on a batch of small side tables. The Pobble side table below is in Ash and Elm, approximately 33cm high and 36cm at its widest. I wanted something small and light to complement some 1960’s Scandinavian lounge furniture for a customer. Three legs and just enough room for a mug and a book, maybe even a remote control. Finished with a low gloss Danish oil and later maybe one or two with satin black legs.
We had amazing clear dry weather for this three day course organised by the Scottish Basket Makers Circle. We even worked in t-shirts for some of the time. We were building onto an existing living willow structure in the local Primary School, a small dome that had got rather thin at the base and with most of the growth from the top. The design was a group decision with the main aims being to enhance the play value and provide an outdoor classroom that could also be used for storytelling and performances. Living towers and arches were added either side along with two smaller domes or “pods” and then diagonal living trellis and and two more towers. We left pathways between the different elements so children could move in and out in different ways. So quite an ambitious job but finished on time and with some willow to spare. Hopefully the structure will be maintained by the school and ideally a good load of chipped bark to mulch around the living willow components.
The second course was run by Jenny Crisp who had come up from Herefordshire to teach her very precise and individual style of making. She brought along some fabulous baskets for sale and I just had to buy one ! Her new course list for 2016 is out now www.jennycrisp.co.uk
I am currently working on some new ideas for Adirondack chairs. At the moment I am working at the Autumn Cornucopia Festival at White House Farm Great Glemham. the festival runs until the 4th October and there is some great work on show, excellent chairs, tables and seating. They also have a great collection of Suffolk ball back chairs, so it is well worth a visit with a great cafe.
Having met Sharon McMullin, a stained glass worker and seen her great work, I really loved the acid etchings of animals, I was inspired to try some glass in a chair back, see what you think
I am having a clear out and have a spare Yurt frame for sale. It dates back to the days when I was running Woodland Craft Supplies and going to lots of shows. It is approximately 13′ in diameter and has an extra wide doorway so it is easy for people to see in and go in and out. It is made in ash apart from the door frame which is Elm. The roof poles have square mortices to resist twisting. I dont have any covers but you could soon sew some ! Give me an email if you are interested.
I am working on a series of stools in a modern rustic style. Finding some good, straight grained ash has been a real challenge and generally by the time the timber has got to the sawmillers it is too dry and too expensive ! I have found some nylon webbing on ebay which comes in some great colours and is immensely strong, ideally I would love to use Shaker tape but it works out as too expensive for a simple stool.
Here is a similar stool, also in ash but this one has an Irish style woven seat. It is very quick an easy to weave and smells great. I am pretty sure it is hemp which I bought years ago and kept in stock. The only down side is the weight of the rope, maybe there are some lighter ropes and cords out there ?
It is less than a month to the European Woodworking Show and if you havent been before it is a great event with a good mix of demos and trade stands. It is a great venue with easy parking and some good food stalls. For the first time I will be demonstrating at the show with the focus on making rustic furniture using roundwood and maybe some cleft chairs and stools. I will be using modern Veritas tenon cutters to make strong and simple round mortice and tenons and traditional tools such as drawknives and spokeshaves.