In my last post I wrote about the upcoming Christmas Fayre at the Red House Cone in Stourbridge. I didn’t have any high expectations, but it turned out very well. There was a fair amount of people coming through on both days, and although I didn’t sell any big pieces, there was a steady trickle of smaller items, and in total we took just under £300. Considering the table fee was only £65, and we had no other expenses, I’d see this as a success. We met a good number of people who we knew, and some of them bought something, and there were a few new customers as well. One even tagged me in one of her posts on Instagram. Nice one!

And then it got even better. A relatively new acquaintance became really enamoured with some of my work, and then proceeded to spend £250 on two vases and a hollow form, and he’s now come back wanting to buy another hollow form for £160. So all in all, I’ve had an excellent week.

Plus, I am about to deliver my second 2-hour lesson to a new student. Hopefully this will last some time, It’s all coming together at the moment. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts, who knows how long that will be.

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Christmas? Christmas!

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Or nearly again. I’ve never done a Christmas Fair before, but since we (re)started doing some shows this year, we decided we might as well give it a try. We picked a local one, the White and Red House Cone Xmas Fayre in Amblecote (between Stourbridge and Kingswinford) this coming weekend, 24/11 and 25/11.

I only have one table of 6′ by 2′, so Helen and I had a bit of a practice session regarding layout. As you can see, we are mostly focusing on smaller items, things we would anticipate to sell well in a “craft” environment. I’ll post some updates here once it’s all over.

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The Ravages Of Time

About 3 weeks ago one of my clubs was contacted by a gentleman in Birmingham regarding our possible interest in a 80 year old horse chestnut that had just been felled on his property. As I am the club’s webmaster, these emails come to me, and there is a mutual understanding with the committee and other club members that I can decide on these matters and if I put the effort into getting the wood and then make it available to the club, in return I get to pick which pieces I want for myself.

Initially after my first reply, there was a bit of silence, and I thought the opportunity had been lost to an overly zealous tree surgeon and his desire to make some decent firewood. As it turned out, the opposite was true (the tree surgeon wasn’t interested in this tree at all), and so last Saturday I made my way to Edgbaston, armed with chainsaw, protective gear and all sorts of ancillary kit.

The tree was indeed of decent size, about 30″ trunk diameter at breast height, but it had also suffered from quite severe rot on the inside, which probably contributed strongly to it being felled in the first place. A nearby sycamore shows similar symptoms (foliage reduced by more than 50%) and will have to come down in the near future.
The trunk of the chestnut had been cut into two large pieces of about 6ft length each, with all the major branches being cut into 3-4ft sections and piled up on the driveway. After some chat with the property owners I set to work. After about 6 hours of toil in the baking sun I ended up with a car full of chestnut cut into (barely) manageable pieces between 5kg and 50kg. Despite having drunk about 3ltr of water, I was dehydrated and exhausted. In fact, when I arrived back home, I was so knackered I just sat on the couch for about an hour before moving another limb.

Nothing more happened on that day other than offloading of tools and 2 smaller pieces of wood. Next day, the remainder of the wood was transported to the yard (where I have 2 horse boxes for wood storage), offloaded and endgrain sealed with PVA.

So what’s any of this got to do with the title, I hear you ask.

Well, there are two links here, really. The first, and less important one, is that clearly this tree has been ravaged by time. The rot at its core had already gouged out a cavity of about 6-8″ across, with radial spikes of rot extending up to another 8-10″ in any direction. This turned a lot of wood into mush or such small cuts that it wasn’t worth keeping. At the same time, the rot allowed fungi to infest the tree, and some of the timber has some of the most beautiful spalting and figuring I have ever seen. Doomed, but magnificent. Some pictures to follow soon.

An secondly, and more importantly, the title links to me. After the exhaustion of Saturday, I fully expected to be a bit deflated on Sunday, and I was. It felt like somebody had a good workout with a cricket bat on my body. I did however, expect to be back to some kind of normal on Monday or latest on Tuesday. Alas, it took until Wednesday for me to not feel completely knackered any longer, and even now (Friday) I can feel some of the pain in my muscles and joints. Age is taking its toll, and there is little I can do about it. I still have decent strength, but any damage inflicted just takes so much longer to repair.  I suppose I have to start taking it easier, or otherwise one day I’ll do damage that can’t be repaired.

So there you have it. Time is the one thing we cannot change. Inexorably it keeps on moving in one direction, dragging everything along with it, and much as the head says “you’re still young!”, the body says “no way, Jose”.

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The Colour Of Magic

I have always been a big fan of the large diameter work by Douglas J Fisher, but at the same time it’s always been clear to me that simply copying him would not cut the mustard. Plus, since I don’t live on the Pacific coast, it would be culturally inappropriate. In other words, I have to find my own style, and it has to express my cultural background and surroundings.

I cannot claim that I have found that style yet, but at the least I have started the journey.

This is 20″ in diameter, made from a single piece of rippled sycamore, and then carved with rotary tools (for the black dimples) and reciprocating or hand tools (for the rays), and finally coloured with textile dyes, black acrylic paint and gilt varnish.

Initially I was tempted to call this “The Light Fantastic”, but then decided that that didn’t quite hit the nail on the head, so I changed it to “The Colour Of Magic.

As Terry himself makes one of his characters say: “It was octarine, the colour of magic. It was alive and glowing and vibrant and it was the undisputed pigment of the imagination, because wherever it appeared it was a sign that mere matter was a servant of the powers of the magical mind. It was enchantment itself. But Rincewind always thought it looked a sort of greenish-purple.”

Now, clearly digital photographic cameras cannot make a picture of octarine, that would be just too mundane. It might work if you had a camera magica, but I am jnot sure. At any rate, I don’t have one of those. So you’ll just have to be content with swirling greens and purples. Sorry for that.

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Last weekend I have finally found my tripod again. We still have a large number of boxes unpacked and waiting in the garage for work on the house to complete, and it was buried in one of them. I have over the last 18 months taken a few pictures with the camera freehand, but despite good lights and high ASA settings, it’s not the same. Must be my age…

At any rate, there was a lot of stuff to photograph, and I haven’t even covered all of it, since some of the new work is already packed away with my other stock. So, watch this space, there will be plenty of new stuff coming out, either in some blog posts or as new items for sale.

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