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I know weird people. There’s an outfit formed around Plymouth Massachusetts this year that proves it.

photo shoot at MLB

most of them can’t even look at the camera

The fledgling non-profit Plymouth CRAFT is getting up and running; the website is being developed now, it will get fleshed-out soon – http://plymouthcraft.org/welcome/

The whole gig will be worth watching, or better yet, worth participating in. The word “craft” in the title stands for Center for Restoration Arts and Forgotten Trades. It is a loosely-knit group of artisans and craftspeople who will be offering workshops, demonstrations, expertise and other whiz-bang crafty know-how to students, amateurs, professionals, and other interested parties.

The other day a few of us assembled at Michael Burrey’s place to shoot some photos and video to be used in our fund-raising and as a general introduction to the question – “what goes on? “

First up, woodworker Michael Burrey, working clay. You’ve seen MIchael on these pages some before; http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/who-you-gonna-call/ and if you read Rick McKee’s blog Blue Oak, http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/   (you do, don’t you?)  then you are familiar with the scope and range of Michael’s work. On this particular day, Michael was molding bricks for a building on Nantucket. These go down low, around the perimeter of the building, with the ogee shape towards the sky to shed water…if I had paid more attention, I would have the name & date of the building, and more detail about the source for this brick shape. Once he has enough made, he’ll fire them in his wood-fired kiln, just beyond the edges of this photo.

mlb brick man

brick mold

brick exits mold

Paula Marcoux http://www.themagnificentleaven.com/The_Magnificent_Leaven/Welcome.html  was mostly the ring-leader, but she also dove in and was teaching passers-by how to make “shrak” a flat-bread found in her book Cooking with Firehttp://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/product-placement/ this stuff was good. Give Paula a 5-gallon bucket, and a few sticks & she’ll whip out her gear and some flour and off you’ll go…

pm & jacob

pm & bread

I only know the tip of Pen Austin’s iceberg. Her work is astounding, catch a glimpse of it here http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/playing-marbles/

pen & marbled paint

and when I saw this rig on Saturday, I knew I had to hang around to see it happen… it looks like a “sweep” (that’s what Joseph Moxon called it, for making an arch from wood, sans lathe) – a scratch stock on a trammel essentially. Pen has a whole different vocabulary for it, here she was working plaster – gooping it up right quick…then swinging the  molding scraper across the mess- out comes architecture. (the first shot is a rope of clay, to bulk up the demo piece – usually it would all be plaster…) 

like a scratch stock

 

Midway through the process – these folks got to work quickly, before the stuff sets too much. 

plaster arch w sweep

arch

At this point, there’s a lot of refinement; filling in gaps with wet mixture, then swinging another pass. 

arch 2

she made this archway just for a demonstration – what work! It was a gas to watch that form come together…

 

Charlotte Russell came by with some drop-spindle stuff, some carded wool and Maureen sat right down for lesson # 1… Charlotte has been a textile artisan for over 50(ish) years -she spins, knits, weaves, has a passion for history and craft, and is a skilled teacher in all things fiber.

cr & drop

spinning a yarn

I took a quick stab (Oh, poor choice of words for teaching knife-work) at teaching one of the photographers some of the knife moves for working on spoon-carving. I have no idea if it was sinking in, there was lots to keep track of that morning…but his moves were right, and no blood was shed…

003

002

When we get further along with this endeavor, I’ll be writing more about it here, Rick will too on Blue Oak – so you’ll hear about it.  There’s way more people and crafts involved than what we previewed the other day…that was just what we could round up on short notice. Have a look at the website, and stay tuned. You’ll hear more. 

I think of Bill Coperthwaite’s quote – “I want to live in a society where people are intoxicated with the joy of making things.”

If Daniel hadn’t had a baseball game, we woulda stuck around Burrey’s for the rest of it. Just as regular order of business, it was apple-cider-making day…


more work on the box with drawer. I’m making some of it up as I go along – when I saw the original, I was not really doing a thorough examination like I would need to actually build one. Like I need now… Here goes, just a bunch of photos, with brief captions. 

installing the middle board for the box section’s bottom

installing bottoms middle board

the last one you gotta give it a bop

give it a bop

in a groove in the rear, nailed to a rabbet at the front

1st bottom done

I turned the feet from green wood, left the tenons large. Trimmed now to fit. Here’s a test fit to see where to trim it

turned feet testing tenons

boring the holes for the feet, in narrow oak slats. An auger bit, nice clean hole. 

auger bit

 

Cross-thumbs grip to trim the tenons
cross thumbs

Then line it up over a hole in the bench, and knock it in

feet go in

Split the protruding tenon for a wedge. 

split

said wedge. 
wedge

The feet assemblies

feet ready

The bottom of the drawer opening is a pine board, planed to 5/8″ thick. Nailed to the sides & rear. 

2nd bottom on

Then nail on the feet assemblies. 

feet go on

Here it is with the drawer front mocked in place. Some applied moldings will cover the pine bottom. Applied decoration on the sides to come…next time is the drawer. then moldings & lid. this thing weighs a ton…

feet w mock drawer

 

a few things left for sale – http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-and-more-oct-2014/

Maureen tells me the felt is going quickly too – https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

makes me thing of RB merg

This view always makes me think of a red-breasted merganser; or Woody Woodpecker. I got some stuff photographed and posted finally. I struggle with the photos constantly; they are never to my liking. But after shooting this stuff three times in some cases, I figured it’s not going to get different enough to matter. I hope. There’ll be another batch sometime between now & Thanksgiving, maybe two if I get organized. Here’s the page, http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-and-more-oct-2014/ or the banner at the top of the blog’s front page. Leave a comment if you’d like to order something. Only one shipping charge per order for those who order more than one item. No need to get nuts about it…

Paypal is easiest, but I can take a check too if you’d rather, just let me know. 
Thanks as always for the support. I truly appreciate it. 

bowl & spoons

Reading Nick Hornby’s book Ten Years in the Tub made me throw out a bunch of spoons I had carved. There are no wooden spoons in the book as far as I know. It’s a compilation of ten years’ worth of his column “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” that runs in the magazine Believer. A few times in the book, Hornby points out that many readers pick up some books, start them, find out they hate them, but feel they have to finish…which leads to a lengthy drawn-out period reading a book you can’t stand. He urges people to ditch those books that are dragging your down, and go read something else.

housefull

One of yesterday’s chores was to photograph stuff for here and for Maureen’s etsy site. Among the stuff I shot was a bunch of spoons I’ve had in the works for a while. Turns out I hated 1/3 of them. So I threw them into the compost. A couple of the keepers, I turned into  a palimpsest of sorts; I recarved bits of them. This one had a large, boring-shaped bowl. Having nothing to lose, I picked up a knife, and had at it.

pailmpsest to be

So today, it’s a spoon day.. thanks to Nick Hornby. I’ll show you what happened to that large birch spoon later…

 

There’s a bunch of stuff going on around here. I shot photos of the carved box with drawer project for a couple of days; then had to set that down for the back half of this week, so I could build one of these “plain” chairs. I built this one here at home, so there’s no photos of this work. Maple legs, ash rails, oak slats. If I backed up any further to take this photo, I’d be tumbling into a pile of who-knows-what…

 

rush chair sans rush

Time to trim the legs’ tops; then add a rush seat. I was trying to think how many tools it was – splitting tools; hatchet, drawknife, spokeshave, brace & bit, crosscut saw, mortise chisel – I used an awl and knife also. Maybe that’s it. If pressed, you could drop a couple of those tools…but I guess I should add the shaving horse, and a low bench for boring & assembly. 

This one is based mostly on Dutch paintings of the 17th-century; this style of chair was the first project I ever made when I was at Plimoth Plantation. Indeed, this one’s for them, too. Here’s one that has been in use there for many years:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I came to calling them plain chairs because of a reference in the Turners Company of London, about pricing for chairs, “plain matted” and “turned matted” – so if the difference is the turning, then here’s what an un-turned chair might look like. There’s a few surviving oldies around, but they are hard to date; and most did not survive. I have seen a few die out at Plimoth after 15-25 years. You can patch ‘em back together some, but sooner or later, it’s just easiest to chuck ‘em and make a new one. 

Typically I make them with low seats, best for working in, rather than sitting at a table. Like this photo Gavin Ashworth took when Trent, Alexander & I co-authored an article about such chairs in American Furniture. I think it was 2008. 

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879

 

Other stuff in the works – finishing up a bunch of baskets I started this summer, (there;’s some in the background of the top photo) finishing some hewn bowls also. Spoons as usual; and I just started cutting out stock for a chair different from anything I’ve done in nearly 30 years.  Next week I’m going to finish assembling the carved box with drawer -just received some quartersawn sycamore (plane tree for you overseas readers) for the lid. Wow. 

This weekend is time to photograph stuff for sale; mine & Maureen’s. She has added some new felted autumn stuff,  if you’re inclined, have a look. More soon both here & there. 

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

 

 

I finally got back to the carved oak box with drawer that I started.

till is next

 

I have been thinking about this box for a month, and was thrilled to get back to it. I shot a slew of photos yesterday and today. First, I had to make the till parts and install them, so I could then finish nailing the box together. Once I had the till’s trenches cut in the front & back, I nailed the back to the sides. Then after fitting the till, I nailed the front in place.

Planing thin stuff like the till lid gets scary when you shove it against the toothy-bench hook. I made a board with a very thin stop at one end, to sit the workpiece on, then I shove the board against the bench hook. 

planing till lid

There’s lots going on when you’re fitting the till parts; 3 pieces that can one at a time, or all together hang you up, and keep the box parts from fitting. A bunch of fiddling around gets you there. Best to take a breath when fitting a till. 

fitting till

 

I make the till lids from oak, often with a molded edge like this one. The till sides and bottom can be various woods in my work; all oak, white pine, or Atlantic white cedar. This one’s cedar. 

 

 

 

till

 

Then I worked on carving the drawer front; in this case based on/inspired by the original – but I didn’t copy it note for note. Outline begun. 

drawer front begun

Shaping & beveling. 

carving detail

Relieving the middles. 

shaping

I work at my regular joinery bench, often hunched right over the carving. Some carvers work higher, but I find I like to get right above it sometimes. 

low bench

 

This gives you an idea of the shaping, prior to adding the gouge-cut details. 

depth

 

I just try to keep from making the same design on 2 consecutive rosettes. 

carving detail 2

 

I had one panel of oak ready for the bottom of the box. It needs a bevel on its rear end, to fit into a groove in the back board. The front edge fits in a rabbet. To bevel it, I jammed it up against some scrap and the bench hook. Held down with a holdfast. 

 

bevel bottom board

The inner edge gets a rabbet, so the next board will overlap this one. 

rabbet

 

A dis-orienting shot – the box is upside down, This first bottom board slips into the groove, drops into the rabbet, then gets slid/knocked over til it bumps up to the inside end. 

bottom's up

 

Tap. tap. 

 

tap it over

Bang. Bang. 

nailed

 

Here’s where I quit for the day. 

first bottom board in

 

I’m going to write up my Connecticut trips backwards. The 2nd stop was to a Friday afternoon demo at the Yale University Art Gallery’s Furniture Study. What a spot. Readers and students often want to know where they can see period pieces in person. The Furniture Study is just such a place.

http://artgallery.yale.edu/furniture-study

 

These are the works that are not on display in the museum, but are there specifically for study. Tons of them. Over 1,000 items maybe. 

aisle 3

Yale’s Furniture Study

 

down the aisle

Yale’s Furniture Study

You want to see some Guilford, Connecticut carved oak chests? Why not see 3 of them together – then you get to see what’s common, what’s idiosyncratic…

guilford chests

one of 3 Guilford CT chests

guilford w scratch stock molding

carved panel detail, Guilford chest

 

This one they had pulled out so we could look at it in detail; I have only generally studied Connecticut furniture, so it’s fun to look again at these. They are large, heavy stock – the stiles are over 2″ thick, by close to 4″ wide. Note the side top rail, how it has no relationship to the front one. Most often  the top rails are equal in height, but they don’t have to be. The linen is not going to leak out of the chest. 

guilford out front

Guillford chest

I always refer to these chests as prime examples of the use of a scratch-stock to produce the abbreviated moldings above the panels here. A plane would not be able to get the full profile then blend out and in so quickly. This molding was scraped – we just don’t know what the tool looked like, nor what it was called. I’ve been working lately on carving these designs, they are so simple, but very effective too. Maybe 20 minutes of carving? Notice the nail holes in the panels – not from a now-missing applied molding – the beveled framing means there was no molding applied; so I think it’s to fix the piece to the bench for carving. Didn’t see those when I was there, just picked them out in the photos. 

detail

carving & molding detail

 

The till lid detail is nice; I usually put the pintle/hinge pin way out on spine of the till lid. Here the joiner shifted it about an inch or more in from the edge. Makes boring the holes for it easier; might make the whole thing simpler. I had done some like this years ago, then forgot it. So next time I make a till for a chest….

 

till lid

till lid

till lid pintle

till lid pintle

It goes on & on. I had wanted to concentrate my carving portion of my demo on these patterns – they are quite simple, but I like the result a lot. Some go for this understated approach to 17th-century carvings; unlike the “every-blessed-surface-carved” approach of my usual inspiration.  

Let’s not forget these drawer fronts – always picked on because they show what can happen!

cupboard base detail

drawer fronts, CT cupboard

If you are in the area some time, contact the folks there through the website – once you start looking around, you’ll have a hard time leaving. My thanks to the staff there for such a nice visit. 

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