Recently I wrote about inspiration in the form of a slew of new books. There was more inspiration stemming from the Season of the Fest – Greenwood Fest, Spoonfest, Täljfest and beyond. Here’s a few items I gathered; some gifts, most purchased, from some of the people I worked alongside.
Jarrod Stone Dahl’s birch work. My 2nd one of his, this one is a birch sleeve, slipped off the log intact. That forms the inside, then it’s wrapped with a sheet of bark that is joined together with the decorative interlocking tabs. https://www.instagram.com/jarrodstonedahl/
I have another post to do about my trip, but today shot a few lousy photos while I was working inside the shop.
You can see, it’s still very much a construction site, but some of the time I’m working on furniture in it, other times, working on it. today, on it.
a new cabinet that will hold hatchets, right above the chopping block. A dovetailed case, with board doors & wooden hinges. recycled paneling for the doors. You can also see the first few windows that went in, complete with leftover carvings trimming the framing around them. Next will be a shallow shelf under these windows.
Here’s the cabinet – 24″ x 36″ – about 4″ deep. Right now it has no fittings inside, I won’t put the hatchets in until all the windows are in. It hasn’t rained here in southern New England all summer, but I don’t want to push my luck…
Just above the tie beam there is a poster & certificate from my trip to Saterglantan. Jarrod Stone Dahl & I were the 3rd & 4th recipients of the Wille Sundqvist & Bill Coperthwaite Slojd Fellowship awards. Quite an honor…here’s some text from a note Peter Lamb sent out in the spring, giving an idea of the fellowship:
“The Wille Sundqvist and Bill Coperthwaite Slöjd Fellowship is awarded to craftspeople to further deepen the meaning, skills, and connections among those passionate about simple living and handmade objects. The Fellowship provides financial support to green woodworkers and other craftspeople to travel from their home country and share their thinking about handcraft, showcase their skills and design work, further their own research, and extend the international community of interest.”
I am very grateful to Jogge Sundqvist and Peter Lamb for all their work making this award a reality, and to Norman Stevens for his contribution as well. (JoJo Wood & Beth Moen were the first two, at Greenwood Fest this spring) –
Outside, I started putting battens on, got most of the south side done. One more narrow window to be framed on our left here, then I can finish the battens.
Our neighbor Dave made the bird house on the right, and a downy woodpecker has been enlarging Dave’s holes…
He was at it quite a while.
2 years ago, when I left my job & old shop behind, I put a bunch of stuff into storage. Now I’m beginning to get it back. Here’s part of the wood supply, tucked up in the rafters. And our snowshoes, which got zero use in 2016.
Back outside, I couldn’t resist, especially after seeing Sweden. If I had been there first, this would be a different building.
It’s been a summer of inspiration for me in many ways. One way is books. So much book inspiration that I’m building a new bookcase. Just have to see where I can fit it. Here’s a few titles I’m rummaging around in these days.
First up, a gift. Thanks, Jögge.
It’s Jögge Sundqvist’s book Slöjda I Trä (something like “Handicrafts made in wood”) – the publisher is Natur & Kultur, Stockholm. It’s a revised edition of an earlier book of the same title. More projects, more text. Nice clear drawings and diagrams, great photos and COLOR! As you expect from Jögge… it’s in Swedish. http://www.bokus.com/bok/9789127148833/slojda-i-tra/
Another revised edition that just arrived here this week is Victor Chinnery’s Oak Furniture: The British Tradition.
One of the great thrills of my joinery career was getting to know Vic. His book originally came out in 1979, and stayed in print for eons. But since Vic’s death, his wife Jan has been working on revising it for a new edition, and they’ve taken a great book and made it better. When Jan wrote to me asking for help contacting American museums for photos, I thought it was mostly to just add more color. But the new edition is way more than that, there’s better photos all around, lots of color added, it’s true. But many new figures. The old photo numbering system is still there. Each photo is numbered according to the chapter it’s in, thus fig. 3:210. When Jan and the editors have added new items, they get a small letter after the figure number, thus there is a fig. 3:210a, where there wasn’t before. Most of the pictures are bigger, thank-you very much. The book is bigger, which helps. In an age where it seems like everyone but me is running around looking at things on small screens, it’s nice to have some images get bigger rather than smaller. If you are serious about oak furniture, then you’ll want to get this new edition. I’m glad I did…it’s well worth it. (and yes, the cover of Oak Furniture is still a walnut chair. Nice one, Vic). http://www.antiquecollectorsclub.com/uk/store/productdatasheet/9781851497157
I had mentioned some time ago about Lost Art Press’ new edition of Ants Viires’ Woodworking in Estonia. (I just now realized that’s 3 revised books in a row…weird)
I wrote a short intro to it, just some notes about my exposure to the original English edition. Now we get better, clearer illustrations, and a text that is related to what the author wrote. And you can buy it easily, whereas the 1969 edition was like hen’s teeth. Suzanne Ellison wrote a nice history of the book, and how it got to be translated and published by the US government back in the 1960s. If you’re not familiar with the book, the author travelled his native countryside in the 1950s and 60s, recording in photographs, drawings and notes the woodworking practices in the countryside, which he reckoned were soon to disappear. Much of the work presented relates to agricultural work; but lots of it is things for the home – cooperage, boxes, some spoons, some furniture. What always strikes me is the familiarity with the material these craftsmen had. A must-have for green woodworkers… https://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/woodworking-in-estonia
In some ways, this next book is similar, in that it’s about knowing the properties of trees.
This one, however, is new, and written by woodworkers, it is the Swedish book Slöjden börjar i skogen – The title roughly translates to “Craft begins in the Woods.” How to use what sort of tree where, what sort of growth – straight, crooked, hard wood vs soft. I bought mine at Sätergläntan’s great craft store, an amazingly inspiring place. I have just started to work out some of the text via Google translate. It’s enough to get the gist of it. (here’s the link to Sätergläntan’s store; it’s available elsewhere, but I know nothing about who ships where… http://www.saterglantan.com/butik/butiken/litteratur-sv/slojden-borjar-i-skogen/ )
I had seen this one on Jarrod Stone Dahl’s blog, after one of his earlier trips to Sweden. I haven’t turned a bowl in 2 years, but hope to get to it again before too long. This book was one of those things where I thought, I’m not going to see this again, so better get it now. Might need it later.
Continuing the Swedish theme, when I got home, I was searching used books for one on Swedish vernacular furniture. I didn’t find one yet, but I did find Swedish Folk Art: All Tradition is Change.
(edited by Barbara Klein and Mats Widbom, published by Harry Abrams, 1994) It’s an exhibition catalog of sorts. Lots of great painted interiors for one thing, and there is a good deal of furniture and other decorative arts in it. It’s a very nice book. Makes me want to decorate everything in sight.
I also got the Lost Art Press edition of Charles Hayward’s articles titled The Woodworker: the Charles Hayward Years. I got both volumes, seems silly to scrimp on this sort of reference material. Lots of depth to the ideas, there’s both fundamental and advanced information in there. With this much content, every woodworker is going to come across stuff they don’t agree with, but there’s still many good concepts. (For instance, I hate the way 20th-century woodworkers scribble all over their stock with pencils – all those stupid wiggly lines. Ugh.) All in all well worth having, it gets the usual Lost Art Press treatment, nice production.
One last woodworking book, a gift from our friend Masashi Kutsuwa.
It’s about a chair he’s been studying in Japan, based on a Vincent Van Gogh painting; https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/vincent-van-gogh-van-goghs-chair hence the nickname “Van Gogh chair”. Masashi’s facebook page has some details about the project, starting with Tatsuaki Kuroda’s 1967 trip to Spain to see these chairs being made…this link includes a short film of one of the Spanish chairmakers.
The book traces the introduction of this chair, via imports, into Japan; all the way to Masashi and students making them now in Japan.
And while I was in Sweden, I got 2 books on birds there – I used this one a lot; and I didn’t see the woodpeckers shown below, but I was ready for them…it’s a very good bird book. One thing, the maps are large enough to see…
The next one was pure indulgence. I have a couple other Lars Jonsson books; they’re bird books and art books. I like both.
Then, I went back to Stockholm. I had long known about Skokloster Slott http://skoklostersslott.se/en because of the collection of 17th-century tools there…but my original itinerary didn’t have time or space to visit Stockholm. I saw Johan Lyrfalk http://hyvlar.se/ at the Lie-Nielsen Open House in July and he said if I came to Stockholm, he’d make arrangements so we could visit Skokloster together. So I did. Johan, Bengt Nillson, Paer Hansen, Alex Hoglund and Christopher Martens took me on a whirlwind tour, starting at Skokloster. Lotta Lindley was our guide there, and she took us everywhere.
The planes in particular, but I think many of the other tools too, were ordered from the toolmaker Jan Arnendtz in Amsterdam in 1664. Skokloster even has the paperwork concerning the purchase of the tools…
the “lathe” room was ridiculous – and I was overwhelmed by the planes…so I barely got any details in here. There were so many tools I knew nothing about…the ones pictured here at least are recognizable; gouges, skews, normal turning tools.
Back in the first room. there was a great table. At first, I thought it was a draw table with an un-associated top sitting on it. But after looking it over, and seeing many more tables in the castle, I decided it was all original, and was just missing its drawer. The stone top had an inlaid frame around it, now most of the inlay is gone. Two stretchers are replaced, but two are original. What caught my eye is the “lipped” tenon, where the rail slips over the stile. This joint appears a lot in furniture made in Plymouth Colony, c. 1640-1680s.
Nice chisels and gouges. I think many of these are also Dutch, if I recall correctly.
These large paring tools are beautiful examples. Not sure they have an English counterpart; something like a “slick.”
Some nice wooden squares, including one with scribed circles on its blade.
Some of the staging that was used during the construction of the castle. Work mostly stopped around 1676, one piece I read said this staging was reconstructed when Skokloster opened as a museum.
If you have read the blog kept by Roald Renmælmo and Tomas Karlsson https://hyvelbenk.wordpress.com/ then you might have seen these tools and this collection before. Here’s a couple of their posts on the subject:
I have lots of new tricks I learned at Spoonfest and Täljfest, so come to Maine & we’ll explore all kinds of ideas. I also have some new spoons by outstanding makers to study, as well as a couple old ones.
This class is the best way to learn all the steps in making a joined chest with drawer.
This year, we’ll include a trip down to the Yale University Furniture Study, to examine the chest we’ll base ours on. Riving, hewing, planing, joinery, carving – the whole thing. One weekend at a time. First class is coming up, Oct 1 & 2.
Later in October, we’ll do the riving class with Plymouth CRAFT – right now we don’t have it listed yet, but a weekend in October, I think the 15/16 . (I’ll post it here, and Plymouth CRAFT will send out its email as well, if you’re not on their list, you want to be, even if it’s just for Greenwood Fest next year! http://www.plymouthcraft.org/ )
In this class, we split apart an oak log, learning how to “read” the log for best results. Then using a froe, we further break the stock down, and make garden hurdles. So, riving, hewing, shaving at a shaving horse, mortising – a busy weekend full of old techniques still applicable today.
THEN – Paula Marcoux reminded me about the spoon carving at Plymouth CRAFT on Dec 10 & 11, at Overbrook house in Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts.
Next stop on the Swedish trip was Öland, an island off the southeast coast. We were there because Jögge was teaching at Capellagården, the school begun by Carl Malmsten in the late 1950s. http://www.capellagarden.se/
here’s a view of some of the gardens
What a place, Öland. We only saw bits & pieces of the southern half of the island, but that was enough to be really captivating. I went with Masashi, Madoka and Fuku to see some of the island while Jögge was teaching. One stop was Gråborg, remnants of a ring-fort that might date from the 6th century. It was rebuilt in its present form in the middle ages. http://www.spottinghistory.com/view/783/graborg-castle/
There is also a fragment of an early church on site.
Next stop was to Himmelsberga, a great museum about life on Öland. (a quick detour to see the sea first, while we waited for the museum to open).
Our hosts for some of our time on Öland were Carl-Magnus Persson and his wife. Carl-Magnus taught furniture work at Capellagården for I think 40 years! He trucked me around the island and showed me more sights than I can keep track of! A quick stop to see one of the many standing stones on the island – I forget the story of this one, other than some knucklehead-Viking types brought this stone to the island to mark the grave of someone – probably Odin, it’s almost always Odin. The whole place is made of stone!
The island is home to the Stora Alvaret, a huge limestone plain – we walked some in there – May is the time to see it, I’m told. Then it’s hoppin’ with nesting birds, and blooming with flowers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stora_Alvaret
Then we went all the way down to the southern tip, where no matter how hard Jögge protested, I got to do some birding. Back when we left Sätergläntan, we stopped at Vesa Jussila’s and he lent me a scope & tripod. Second bird I saw on this outing was a northern Lapwing – a bird I had never seen. I was so excited, but Jögge and his wife Nina were un-moved. Lapwings nest near them, they’re very common. The next day I saw a flock of about 50…