rose's comic block overall

My first week of self-employment is under my belt. It went nothing like what I expected. I carved few new spoons; ( I finished a bunch, but they’re coming with me to the Lie-Nielsen Open House later this week – some hewn bowls too. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/open-house/ I’ll sell what I have when I get back.)

Mostly I turned balusters for Burrey’s project. That’s all right, the other stuff will keep til I get back. Oops, once I get back, I turn around & go back to Maine for a carving class there – so it has to keep even longer.   http://www.lie-nielsen.com/weekend-workshop/ww-pf14

As I stumble around this make-shift shop, I can’t tell you how many times I have instinctively reached for a hunk of scrap wood that isn’t there. I never realized how important that stuff is to my day-to-day working. Shims, wedges, propping stuff this way & that. The piece above however is one large scrap that became too good to toss, or to use.  Ages ago, Rose picked it up in the old shop one day, an oak off-cut of a 3×5. Asked could she have it – I said yes. I’ve saved it for a year or more…

rose's comic block pt 1

rose's comic block pt 2

rose's comic block pt 3

rose's comic block pt 4

 

in the “everything old is new again department” – here’s a preview of an upcoming project. Not furniture is all I’ll say…

everything old is new again

 

Just to keep folks from worrying, proof that I haven’t forgotten oak carvings – two upcoming frame & panel numbers. These were part of two demonstrations I did in June; one for SAPFM and one at Historic New England. Warm-ups for the LN carving class mentioned above.

oak 1

oak 2

While cleaning and sorting, I found this old newspaper photo of my last private shop – a 2nd floor of a chicken coop – me using an old Delta lathe. Threw away the motor, but the lathe was right above the stairs, so the treadle had to be pumped backwards! 1992 this was…

1992 lathe

 

Someone asked, did we see whales? Yup, low numbers, but good views. Perfect weather.

fluke

 

 

When I announced that I was leaving Plimoth a reader commented “You could always do a brief stint working for Michael Burrey as so many of my (NBSS) classmates did for a while after working at the Plantation. ;-)”   – well, where do you think Michael came from? All the wood-eating organisms that leave Plimoth go to Burrey’s at some point. I have already worked for him a number of times, starting probably 20 years ago. I used to joke to each one who went there, “that was MY spot…”

 

Mostly I’ll be working for me, but Michael & crew get some interesting projects. So when he calls, I’ll sign on if my schedule allows. My first post-PP gig is some turned work for the Shakespearean stage they are in the process of building. Rick wrote about it last year, http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/category/shakespearean-stage/ and now they are underway on phase 2. This part includes some turned balusters, similar to these installed at the reconstructed Globe Theater in London. These were turned by Gudrun Leitz http://www.greenwoodwork.co.uk/website/exhibitions.html . She did 500, I only have to do 45. Thankfully.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This job is last-minute, so I just set up my lathe out on the back patio/terrace. A stupid place for it; but there’s no time to get involved in anything more coherent. When these are done, the lathe comes down & goes back to storage, til I figure out my next shop. the pole is fixed to a dilapidated deck, that is slated to be replaced. Where’s PW? Following his wife on some whirlwind book tour, no doubt.

better than nothing

They say the sky starts at your feet. Another way to look at it is that this setup has an incredibly high ceiling.

high ceiling

It’s been over 6 months since I turned any spindle stuff, so to start off I just roughed out some cylinders. tomorrow I’ll get down to the details. There’s 45 of these altogether. Time to dust off the cobwebs on my legs…

overall by DRF

roughing out

Here’s what I’ll be following, Michael provided a turned bit leftover from Gudrun, so the story goes. It’s weird, the squared blocks are smaller than the cylinder. It’s not just weird, it’s stupid I think. I have seen this done on huge turned legs for large tables. But here the difference is quite slight…until it’s time to make them.

the model

Friday was my last day, http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/break-of-dawn/

All that really means is that Saturday was my first day. Went back to these hewn bowls -

hewn bowls

bowl & gouge

hewn bowl carved

 

time to finish them up, so I can start the next batch of 3.  What fun. I was carving at 5:45 am today; why wait til 9?

But first things first, it’s time to go see the whales.

humpback

back to work later on…

 

During the bowl-turning class I attended earlier this month, we spent some of our “off time” discussing spoon design. I recall Robin Wood saying something to the effect of  “the game has changed” – meaning there have been great strides in spoon carving in recent years.

I don’t have a large collection of other people’s spoons, but here’s a couple to view. For me, it starts with Wille & Jogge Sundqvist – I met them through Drew Langsner many years ago. So long ago that Jogge & I looked like this:

PF & Jogge 1988

PF & Jogge 1988

Wille’s spoon that I got recently is very slick. From what I know, he always thickens the end of the handle at the finial; and I have tried to keep that in my spoons too. He often hollows the upper face of the spoon’s handle too. Gives the spoon’s shape a lot of “movement.” this spoon is a small serving spoon, the bowl is too big to fit in the mouth. Its front edge is straight across, and the rim of the spoon’s bowl is flat.

wille overall 2

wille finial

Wille end on

 

I mentioned Jojo Wood’s spoons in a recent post. Here’s one of hers; thin as a whisper in places; note the finial just the opposite of Wille’s, gets thinner at the end, but has an up-turn to move your eye, and fingers. Bowl is crowned across its width; this is something  Jojo strives for in her spoons. This spoon is made from a radial straight-grained blank, not a crook. A real challenge to get a good spoon out of straight stock.

jojo overall 2

jojo end on

jojo profile

 

 

One of Jarrod StoneDahl’s spoons. Jarrod does lots of radially split spoons, but this one’s from a crook. Thin at the end, crowned bowl; the bowl follows the crook’d shape very nicely.

jarrod overall

 

jarrod full profile

jarrod end on

jarrod profile

Thinking about these spoons (and carving my own versions inspired by them) got me to thinking about this old spoon given to me by a friend. Beech, makes me think eastern Europe, not Scandinavia. Thin finial, pointy bowl, crowned across its width. thin as Jojo’s. Radially split. All the knife marks are there on the bottom of the bowl, you can see what direction  the carver worked at different parts of the spoon’s bowl.

old beech spoon

beech profile

beech end on

tool marks beech

tool marks beech 2

 

By now, most of us have seen this video, filmed in Sweden in 1923.

 

I just copied it from youtube, thanks to whomever cropped it to be just the spoon-carver. The spoon he makes is a very similar shape to what Jojo, Jarrod and the beech spoon are after  – seems to me anyway. I remember when I made spoons on Roy Underhill’s show, we couldn’t brace the spoon against our sternum, too much microphone noise for the TV guys. I remembered this fellow using his knee as a fulcrum point for knife work. So I swiped that idea and Roy & I used it on the show.

links:

Robin’s excellent post looking at modern makers’ spoons: http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/wood-craft-blog/2013/12/26/20-best-wooden-spoons-world/#lightbox/17/

Jarrod StoneDahl  http://woodspiritgallery.com/

Jojo Wood  http://jojospoons.blogspot.com/

Me & Roy making spoons http://video.pbs.org/video/2172740518/

 

Here’s another reminder to watch the blog posts by Roald Renmælmo and Tomas Karlsson  – I’ve put links to their work before, but just want to remind folks that there’s very interesting work going on in Scandinavia that’s not spoons! Imagine –  PhD work on carpentry crafts. Today Roald added an English post about their reproduction of a bench from the shipwreck the Vasa – doesn’t it look great?

The almost finished workbench of the Vasa model are set up in our improvised workshop in Mariestad. Photo: Roald Renmælmo

If you like workbenches, etc – there’s lots more pictures here: http://hyvelbenk.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/the-vasa-workbench-rebuilt/

 

 

One day quite a few years ago, I got a call to come to Hingham to see an old building there that had some tools in it. I walked in, and my jaw dropped. All the tools, patterns, many products, benches, lathes, etc of a small cooper’s and toy-maker’s shop. an absolute time-machine. Spooky.

Now after maybe 7 years or more, the story is told in an exhibit and accompanying book “Bucket Town” = I saw a preview of the exhibit when I lectured at Old Sturbridge Village last week for the Society of American Period Furniture Makers. and got the book. I remember thinking when I first saw the collection that I would like to get the job to photograph the objects. Thankfully that didn’t happen, and eventually they got Gavin Ashworth to shoot it. Derin Bray has done the catalog; and it is excellent. I’m so glad I was not involved, seriously. When these guys got rolling, they did a great job of it. What a story…the building was locked up for maybe generations, and the kids were told to keep out of there. When they finally opened it up, it was like a time capsule. Only filled with good stuff, not the tacky crap people intentionally put in time capsules.

 

 

The book has just been publishied!

The cooperage is pails, not barrels.Also bent-wood boxes, miniatures and toys. Great history, well worth it. Here’s a link to the story, http://www.buckettown.com/ and to the exhibit https://www.osv.org/buckettown

 

 

As you can tell from the last post, I am in a state of flux; many things about to begin. First, I finish up at Plimoth, then on to a slew of ideas. Make a bowl-lathe. finish the hewn bowls. clean up parts of this house so I can work here some. Take the kids on a whale watch. some work for MLB Restoration, aka the Blue Oak guys. Those are some priorities, not necessarily in order. And I have a bunch of blog posts unwritten. Let’s try this one.

Every time I attend some woodworking event in the US , it’s principally a bunch of old men. In flannel shirts. Mostly. We have been seeing some young guys coming along. So it was a gas & a half to meet Jojo Wood when I was at North House Folk School a few weeks ago. She’s a double-whammy – a young woman woodworker. And what spoons! Robin Wood had written on his blog “her spoons are better than mine” – and I assumed a father’s pride in his child’s work, but then I saw her spoons in real life. very nice stuff.

jojo spoons

inspiration 5

She’s grown up around green woodworking of one sort or another; mostly her bowl-turning father, but somewhere there’s a photo of Jojo & her brother learning knife work from Wille Sundqvist when they were quite young. (HA! swiped it from Robin’s blog)

Jojo pre-dreads

Jojo told me that when the first spoonfest happened in Edale, she noted the lack of women instructors; and began to concentrate seriously on her spoon carving. I jumped at the chance to learn her technique for carving a “crank” as she calls it, into a straight blank. Very organized, logical approach. Blows my doors off. Jojo told me she’s been lucky to have met all the great spoon carvers of today, without really having to leave home – through the spoonfest events and otherwise through connections w Robin.

jojo hews

Well, I think luck had something to do with it, but practice, skill and a good eye made it happen for her too. She’s been up in Wisconsin & Minnesota feeding mosquitoes for a few weeks, but I hope when she’s back home she’ll add stuff to her blog …

http://jojospoons.blogspot.co.uk/

Jojo's spoon

Nice going Jojo, I look forward to when we meet again…

 

 

 

One day a visitor to the museum asked me “How long have you had the greatest job in the world?”

overall view

overall view

Certainly that’s a pretty accurate assessment. For a woodworker, my day job has been a blast. For the past 20 years, I’ve gone to work, got set up in my shop, and made stuff. All that was required of me was to talk to people about what I am doing. Did you ever meet a woodworker who  doesn’t like to tell people about their projects?

 

But now it’s time for me to hang it up. I decided a while ago to leave Plimoth Plantation so I can concentrate on a range of wood-working that falls outside the guidelines of 17th-century English furniture. That work continues to fascinate me, but I’ve been drawn in several different directions in recent years, some re-visits of work I have done before (baskets, spoons, bowls) some new areas I hope to explore. A book to finish, for example. And other stuff. 

 

I still don’t know where i’ll set up my tools next. For now I have a bench here at the house, and one tool chest. My spoons & stuff I can do out in the yard, down by the river. Or in the kitchen, except for the hewing. I’m not rushing into a work-space; I hope to find the right spot before long though. The blog ought to get more active again. Right now my teaching schedule is pretty well booked for 2014, but I might add some stuff to it. I’m going to be continuing to post things for sale, (maybe move it to an etsy site) because I still need to create income… so if you need some woodsy handicrafts, or lectures/demos, etc. – here I am. 

 

My years at Plimoth have been astounding. I met people from all over; made great friends, even got a wife. Made connections that hopefully will stay with me for many years. I can’t begin to list all the highlights, among them were three great trips to England as part of my research, poked around in museums there & here in the US, and talked, talked, & talked some more. I learned more than you can imagine, from working day in & day out, from co-workers, and from visitors. The stooped-over Romanian carver who used 7 mallets of different weights, Mark & Jane Rees showed up un-announced one day when I was making tools, the Brazilian man who cried because my shop looked just like his father’s of 50 years ago, the time Pret used his axe to cut Paula’s hair on the chopping block, the Amish man who knew Daniel O’Hagan. I have a million stories. So my thanks to all my friends & visitors past & present at Plimoth. It was great. 

 

Whenever I travel to teach, (or as I did just recently, as a student) folks from all over who read this blog often mention seeing me at the museum, or wanting to come visit. Just in case you’re making travel plans along those lines, here’s notice – my last day is June 27th. After that, I’ll be like most other woodworkers, laboring away – head down, alone, & silent. If I get lonely, I’ll work in the front yard, and talk to passing cars… “It’s oak, I’ve split if from a log…”

sixteenths red oak

sixteenths red oak

 

Some time ago, I heard of some films recording Bill Coperthwaite at his home in Dickinsons Reach, Machiasport, ME. I got a hold of the filmaker, Anna Grimshaw and we corresponded a little bit. I wrote to her the other day, and found out that her films got picked up by Berkeley Media; a distributor of educational films. Here’s some of Anna’s note from today:

“I have just signed a distribution agreement with Berkeley Media that means that they now have all the rights to the material.   I had hoped to find a distributor that would make DVDs available to individuals at a reasonable cost.  I was unsuccessful, despite sending the work out quite widely to a range of non-profit/educational distributors.

Berkeley Media was very keen to have the work.  They largely supply educational institutions — hence their prices are high but individuals and organizations can apply for a discount on purchases.  It seemed important to me that the films about Bill be properly archived and distributed, so despite the restrictions and pricing, I decided Berkeley Media was my best bet.”

I just searched Berkeley Media’s website, but didn’t find the films. Maybe they’re not added yet…I’ve seen them, they follow Bill through the seasons at Dickinson’s Reach. Good stuff.

Anna kindly sent me the link to a “leftover” film, of Bill working on a chair he’s made. It’s not an action feature; no car chase, little suspense, etc. Nor is it a how-to, or a documentary. It is really a snapshot of Bill at work, tinkering around in his shop. When I know more about the other films, I’ll let you know. I really appreciate Anna making this available to us, and am grateful that she spent all that time recording Bill. If it asks you for a password – it’s Coperthwaite

 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/90636532″>A Chair- in six parts</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/annagrimshaw”>Anna Grimshaw</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

This “green woodworking” arena is pretty small of course. While I was at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN I was reminded of a few peripheral connections I had to the place. Jogge Sundqvist has taught there a few times; Roger Abrahamson had one of Jogge’s knife/sheath creations, and he let me take some photos…

jogge knife & sheath

I mentioned the other day that I had met Roger before, and we have some mutual friends as well. One other small connection was Bill Coperthwaite. Bill taught out at North House before.

Bill Coperthwaite

Bill Coperthwaite

While we were talking, some folks asked if I knew what was going to happen to Bill’s place, Dickinson’s Reach. I said I didn’t, but I had forgotten that there were memorial services happening maybe right at the same time we were making bowls. When I got back, I had a nice email from Peter Lamb. Peter said they had over 300 people out at Dickinson’s Reach, including some from Malaysia, China & Japan. He sent along this short obit for Bill. I’ll keep the blog readers abreast of anything I hear about how folks are going to help steward Bill’s legacy. Thanks to Peter Lamb for sending this along.

Obituary for William S Coperthwaite

 

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