not oak, Buteo instead

I’m back from the first weekend of the chest class – and it went very well. Now I have to plane a slew of oak, like the students were doing all weekend.

But the family took a walk on bare earth today, and heard a bunch of loud crows – kept looking up to see what the trouble was…but it turned out to be right in front of us – this juvenile red tailed hawk, sitting on a fence post. We walked right near it, without spooking it. Here’s when I thought I was really close to it –

rt hawk first shot

then the hawk just wouldn’t be spooked. So we left, and when we turned for home – still there.

2nd

closer still. I’ve got close to juvies before – for some reason, there’s times when they don’t care about us.

3rd

4th

I’ve been living in my head…

well there’s a lot going on here, it just doesn’t look it according to the blog. Much of the activity is in my head anyway. Let’s see…recently I’ve been preparing to teach classes, or teaching them. The spoon class at Plymouth CRAFT went very well, at least I think it did. some of the students thought so too. It was a hoppin’ scene, and I’m too out of breath to run it all down. here’s some pictures I swiped from Marie Pelletier who shot a bunch for us. One or two are mine. spoon carving, knitting, sausage-making (well, my shot was cooking some…) and egg-decoration. And lunch. http://plymouthcraft.org/

 

At the same time as that, I was (with help, thanks to Michael Doherty) prepping material for the upcoming chest-building insanity coming up at Bob Van Dyke’s. I hear today the first 150 or so pieces have been delivered and are ready for students tomorrow to begin planing them. when Roy Underhill & I tried a chest class last summer, we both said within 15 minutes of being underway, “this is nuts” and we’d never do it again. Then Bob called, cooked up his scheme, and the log piece fell into place…so here goes again. Impromptu riving brake:

makeshift riving brake

Half of 10 or 12 chests’ worth:half of 12 chests

 

but all the while, I’ve been thinking about workspaces. it’s 8 or so months since I left my shop at the museum. Luckily I was lent a shop where I can work & shoot photographs for the upcoming book on joinery. That’s a great space, but it’s not mine…

trimming scraps

and then the winter struck. I loved it, but one thing that much snow did here was make anything you want to do take longer. So I stuck close to home, and worked at the workbench I have in the basement here. That space is multi-purpose to say the least. Effectively the part I work in amounts to about 7’ x 10’ – with a little extra if I move stuff out of the way…but then it’s in the way for something else. I counted one day – I needed a chisel, and it was 9 steps to the tool chest, 9 steps back. I know I’m not alone in this regard, but it sure is crazy-making.

that’s one reason why there’s been so little on the blog – no room to take decent pictures. Here’s one I shot with an Ipad, of a chest test-fitted. I’d have to go out the window if I had to move quickly. And I had to move stuff just to shoot this with an Ipad!

chest test fit

I’ve been busy with Instagram and Facebook, but to me those aren’t as satisfying as this. to me, this becomes like a journal or record of my work..

but I’m cautiously optimistic that 2015 will change some of that. Sounds like I might be able to build a shop (whoops – not a shop, an “auxiliary building”) – I have more checking to do, but the first round with the town sounded hopeful. I did not tell them what it was for, just a “tool shed”. so in my mind, I’m designing a 12 1/2’ x 16’ building. I already am thinking of what to carve on the frame! I know – “nothing’s for certain, it can always go wrong” – but I said cautiously optimistic.

I always wanted to be this guy:

Carl Larsson

 

Or the joiner-equivalent of this British chair maker:

british windsor chair maker

We’ll see how it goes.

Maureen has moved onto Spring, just like today’s calendar. https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts  lotsa colors…

Spring green felted wool bowl, small Easter basket, spring decor,

Jogge Sundqvist at Lie-Nielsen Sept 19 & 20

Jogge Sundqvist at Country Workshops, 2010
Jogge Sundqvist at Country Workshops, 2010

This September, Jogge Sundqvist will be teaching a 2-day class at Lie-Nielsen in Warren, ME.. This will fill quickly; I am just posting it so you’ll know. I’ll be there, it’s going to be great. read the details here:

https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/93

————-

And now for all-too-rare posts with birds – cooper’s hawk in the sycamore tree next door. I saw him chasing a feeder bird on the wing, not usually his M.O. Everyone’s hard up these days.

coopers

A great blue heron on the ice on town brook in Plymouth – we have only seen a heron once this winter at home, not sure why. Usually they’re here all the time.

gbh gbh ice

Everybody has to be careful on the ice. He eventually got a medium size rodent and choked it down, but it’s before breakfast here so I will spare us the visuals.

careful on ice

There’s a male wood duck who is fixated on a female mallard at Jenny Pond in Plymouth.

wood duck w mallards

These ducks get fed, so are hideously tame. You can’t usually get near a wood duck in the wild, I can’t anyway. He stuck next to her on every move.

overall

calling

It’s easy to extrapolate all kinds of shallow human traits here = she must be very proud of herself, snagging such a showy male. He’s forever primping to keep up his flashy appearance. But they’re just ducks.

On the way home from Plymouth, I stopped to check on the screech owl. It was a sunny day, I’d be sticking my nose out of the box too if I was him.

screech

 

Plymouth CRAFT

At the end of last June, I left my job at Plimoth Plantation. I had been there 20 years, and it was quite a scene for much of that time. I miss having an audience (“sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me…”) and I miss having a shop that’s 16’ x 30’. But a big part of what appealed to me there was my co-workers. We had quite a crew of talent, ideas, execution – it was a very creative place. Over the years, one by one, sometimes in larger clumps, folks left the museum. Finally it was my turn, and things on the outside are great. I get to teach workshops at some of the best woodworking schools going – Roy’s place, Bob Van Dyke’s, formerly at Country Workshops = and beyond.

hewing crook

I was glad to be on my own – no rules, no bosses. Then  – an opportunity to join a new non-profit? Out of the frying pan, into the fire? Nah, I jumped at the chance to be involved in Plymouth CRAFT. (Center for Restoration Arts and Forgotten Trades) It’s not a woodworking school, it doesn’t exist in space, and it’s still in its infancy. But it’s peopled with many of the craftsmen & women that I worked with at Plimoth. Having been with these people day in and day out, I tend to take them for granted; but their talents are extraordinary. This coming weekend we have several things going on at once –

My spoon carving class has 2 openings, semi-last minute. (my last 2 spoon class openings in the lower 48) If you can make it, I’ll show you how to use an axe, and two knives to make wooden spoons that hopefully will change the way you look at life. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=carving-wooden-spoons-with-peter-follansbee

Then there’s Denise Lebica’s knitting workshops – I and II. Denise worked in the wardrobe department there for decades; she knows her way around fibers. She & I worked side-by-side for several years, she knows all my jokes by heart. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=learn-to-knit-retreat-part-2

KNITTING

Paula Marcoux’s exploits are too many for me to go into, but her gig at Plymouth CRAFT is all-around top-to-bottom whirlwind. In addition to helping us all get going there at Overbrook House this weekend, after she makes us a lunch that has to be experienced to be believed, Paula will be teaching her class Sausage, Scrapple & Lard – http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=sausage-scrapple-lard

CIMG1240
and me – a vegetarian! The things I do for CRAFT

 

And if that’s not enough, Martha Sulya is now going to teach some lucky students how to make the Ukrainian decorated eggs that she has astounded us with for years. http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=pysanky-ukrainian-egg-decorating  If you have read this blog a while, you know I like patterns and decoration – these eggs got it in spades. Everyone who sees them is amazed. This is not some “small-craft-warning” this is the real thing.

camera_Sept_2011_053

Later this spring, Mark Atchison will teach a beginner’s blacksmithing class – http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=the-fundamentals-of-blacksmithing-a-traditional-perspective  Mark’s work appears on this blog every time I show any iron I work with…his work is great. You won’t see me pounding iron, because I’ve been spoiled by Mark all these years.

!Sparks_0083

We have more planned, me & Rick McKee (blue oak blog – https://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/ ) will help students learn some of the intricacies of riving parts right from an oak log… http://plymouthcraft.org/?tribe_events=splitting-a-log-into-boards  and other classes too. Sign up for the newsletter – Plymouth CRAFT will keep growing. Come join us, you’ll have quite a time. Part of what I like about it is the exposure I get to other crafts, and other craftsmen & women – you start to see all kinds of connections between and across the trades. And you’ll meet some people you might never forget. Fun stuff. There’s some new content on the CRAFT website, look it over when you get a chance.  http://plymouthcraft.org/

 

the only one of these sticks I’ve ever seen

I’m cleaning & sorting. It’s just awful. I’ll spare you the gory details; but found these photos of an interesting board chest. It was probably 20 years ago I shot these, a few are worth seeing. Here’s the overall chest, pine throughout.

overall

It was made in Plymouth, 1699 (the date is carved on the till lid) – an ordinary enough board chest, with a drawer. The real kicker for me is the mechanism for locking the drawer. Garish color here, but here’s the sleeve with the stick that slides through a hole in the chest floor –

chest interior w stick

 

And then engages a related sleeve in the drawer. Amazingly, it’s all there, a rare survivor. Seems like the drawer also was compartmentalized, note the notch in the inside of the drawer front.

drawer interior w stick

Here’s the only detail I have of the decoration on the chest & drawer fronts:

punch work & carving

The chest we’re building in class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking had a similar drawer-locking arrangement, so we’ll copy this sort of stick.

 

I didn’t mean to do this…

desk

I didn’t set out to make this at all. I only saw the original once, back in the early 1990s when I was researching the furniture made in 17th century Braintree, Massachusetts, by William Savell and his sons John & William.  But then recently I was given (thanks Michael) some really wide red oak bolts…so  I rived & planed up stuff & decided to tackle this form. (10″ high, 22″ wide, and about 16″ deep) I had built one once but I think it had no insides, I forget.

In the photo above, I have test-fitted the fixed top board, it will be trimmed after attaching it with wooden pins. It won’t get installed until the hinges are attached to it. First things first.

Many English boxes are just plain inside, but New England ones often (usually) have a till inside. The Savell shop had tills and drawers inside theirs, even their flat-top boxes like this one, I forget right now if there were drawers under the till nearest the camera:

Braintree box interior
Braintree box interior

It’s a particularly stupid arrangement – if you stuff things in the box, then you can’t pull the drawers out. But it has an obsessive compulsive appeal.

A desk/slant-lid box almost always is divided up inside. This one features two tills, a long open tray in the rear, and four drawers up above. One of the tills, closed – English oak for the till lid:

till closed

 

Same till, open:

till open

The original is missing its drawers, maybe they were cubbies w/o drawers –

savell-desk-box

but mine will have small oak drawers. I just ordered the dovetail hinges for it, and some curtain rings for the drawer pulls. When I get this far on a new project, I always wish I could make the 2nd one first – just made some trial & error sort of mistakes. Nothing major, but next time….

Now while I wait for the hardware from the blacksmith, I’ll plane up the board for the hinged lid, then I can go back to the joined chests I was making.

Spoons & more for sale here: https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-baskets-bowls-for-sale-march-2015/

If you’re sick of snow – don’t read this post

maple

We are getting a real nice slow, heavy snowfall today, covering up the dirty snow that’s been hanging around. I saw a joint stool (22″ high) in the yard the other day, just poking its head out of the snow. Gone again now. Spent a chunk of the morning snow-shoeing, down to the beach at the Bay Farm.

The snow is still pretty deep, that’s a bike rack sticking up beside us here:

bike rack

I was in the mood that around every corner was a photograph:

 

bay farm

I made it out to the beach; the bay was filled with ducks; these are black ducks, but I saw mergansers, long-tailed ducks & who knows what else. Hundreds, I’d say.

black ducks

Recently, I read the following timely passage from Thoreau’s journal – while the kids had been making tunnels in the snow.

Jan 20, 1857

at Emerson’s this evening, at about 6PM I was called out to see Eddy’s cave in the snow. It was a hole about two and a half feet wide and six feet long, into a drift, a little winding, and he had got a lamp at the inner extremity. I observed, as I approached in a course at right angles with the length of the cave, that the mouth of the cave was lit as if the light were close to it, so that I did not suspect its depth. Indeed, the light of the lamp was remarkably reflected and distributed. The snowy walls were one universal reflector with countless facets. I think that one lamp would light sufficiently a hall built of this material. The snow about the mouth of the cave within had the yellow color of the flame to one approaching, as if the lamp were close to it. We afterward buried the lamp in a little crypt in this snow-drift and walled it in, and found that its light was visible, even in this twilight, through fifteen inches’ thickness of snow. The snow was all aglow with it. If it had been darker, probably it would have been visible through a much greater thickness. But, what was most surprising to me, when Eddy crawled into the extremity of his cave and shouted at the top of his voice, it sounded ridiculously faint, as if he were a quarter of a mile off, but we all of us crawled in by turns, and though our heads were only six feet from those outside, our loudest shouting only amused and surprised them. Apparently the porous snow drank up all the sound. The voice was, in fact, muffled by the surrounding snow walls, and I saw that we might lie in that hole screaming for assistance in vain, while travellers were passing along twenty feet distant. It had the effect of ventrilloquism.So you only need to make a snow house in your yard and pass in hour in it, to realize a good deal of Esquimau life.

the footnote;

Ellen Tucker Emerson (1839-1909) wrote to her father on 22 January 1857 “Mr Thoreau was here night before last and Eddy illuminated his snow cave and called out to us; we couldn’t hear what he said though we were close at the mouth of the cave and Mr Thoreau said ‘Speak louder’ so Eddy spoke again and we could hear some very feeble words. Then Mr Thoreau told him to holla as loud as he could, but we hard only very weak squeaks. Then Mr Thoreau was very surprised, as he said he could hardly believe Eddy was calling loud, and he went in himself and shouted and it sounded as if someone was in trouble over the brook near Mr Stow’s. And Edie went in and peeped and that sounded very feeble. Mr Thoreau thought the snow sucked up the sound. Then he said he should like to see how transparent snow was, and we dug into the snow-drift a hole with one side 4 inches thick and one 14 and about 6 inches from the top, then we put the lamp in and walled it up with a block of snow eight inches thick, through the four inches one could see to read, through fourteen the lamp shone bright and shining like a lantern – a Norwegian would think it was a troll-mount. Mr Thoreau was quite delighted and so we all were with our experiments.”

 

daniel

both kids

Last night about 6-7pm the kids & I went down near the river to listen to the hootings of two great horned owls. Timeless fun.