Twain didn’t really say “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” but it’s a good line. In a similar vein, if you’ve heard that Plymouth CRAFT is defunct – it ain’t so. We just sat out the pandemic and then some. There was no need for us to dive in earlier, so we just waited. But one thing or another has happened lately and we’re pleased as punch to have JoJo Wood coming back to teach our first next workshop. I’m late in getting this notice out so I’ll just shut up & put the links in.
Dates are Aug 1 & 2 and 4 & 5. At the Wildlands Trust building in Plymouth Massachusetts.
I see on the events page that Paula has posted that I’m teaching the JA chair this fall. That’s true, but I think the dates listed there are speculation. I guess she & I need to get our shit together. We’re out of practice. Come take a class with JoJo – I’ll see you there.
In between long sessions trying to get video of the heron striking chipmunks and even longer sessions working on the videos for the joined chest series, I’ve begun another Alpine chair/brettstuhl/stabelle/what-do-you-call-’em chairs. I found a couple more boards of butternut for the seat and back(s) and have some ash legs I roughed out a while ago.
The shape of these uprights & crest pieces is derived from a photo Chris Schwarz and his Chair-Chat friends Rudy & Klaus sent me. The carvings I made up – and it’s weird to have chip carving mixed with gouge-cut carvings. But I wanted to fill the spaces as quickly as I could. So that’s what I ended up with.
This time the battens are dovetailed with a plane. My notebook tells me it was 7 months ago when I last did one this way. So some head-scratching coming up to cut the housings accurately. I guess the problem is laying them out accurately. Once that’s done cutting them shouldn’t be that big a deal.
I bore the waste out of these mortises for the back. First in the seat itself. Then once I’ve cut the housings, I’ll insert the battens and finish boring & cutting those mortises. Clunky approach but it helps me get cleaner results.
Today I posted the next video in the chest series. Making the floor boards. 5/8″ white pine, tongue & grooved edges. It’s always a fun part of making the chest.
The tongue & groove is a funny one. Not made with matched planes. Nor is it just a rabbet on the top & bottom face – for some reason they rabbeted the top and beveled the bottom to make the tongue. So that’s what I did.
I didn’t bother with a trailer, I was tired of computer work & wanted to go work on the chair. There’s plenty of trailers for other episodes if you would like to see what the videos look like. You can find the trailers here https://www.youtube.com/user/MrFollansbee/featured
I just uploaded to vimeo-on-demand the most recent video in my series on making a carved joined chest. This one is carving the panels. It’s about 90 minutes long and took me a ridiculous amount of time to put together. These chests have 4 panels of the same pattern across the front. So I shot video of carving 3 of them. On 2 cameras. And had a crazy number of clips (over 80!) to choose from, trying to get just the right angle, just the right detail, etc.
I always say this, but these chests are my certified favorites. Back in the late 1980s when Jennie Alexander first hooked me into studying 17th-century oak furniture, the subject was a cupboard by these joiners – William Savell and his sons John & William.
Since then, I’ve acquired and restored a beat-up one and seen a few other beauties.
The first carvings I learned to do were the lunettes and panels in these chests. And I’ve carved them here & there ever since. There’s a section in my book on carving them – but I’ve never carved the panels on video until now.
When I started this video series last winter, after seeing Pete Galbert’s series, I expected it to run about 12 videos and maybe 20 hours. RIght now this is the 11th video and it’ll be up to about 12 1/2 hours thus far. So much for my estimates – the chest isn’t even assembled yet. Videos to come include cutting & fitting the floor (next time), ditto the till, fitting the rear panel, then assembling the chest. Making, carving & fitting the drawer. Making & hinging the lid. I’m sure I’ve forgotten one or two. Sharpening carving tools – I can’t believe I agreed to that, but it’s about time I dealt with it.
Meanwhile here’s today’s trailer about the Panel-Carving video. The video is available as a stand-alone (each episode is) for $15 or as part of the whole kit and caboodle for $100. See vimeo.com/ondemand/follansbeejoinedchest
During the past week, a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) has been coming into our yard hunting chipmunks (Tamias striatus). [GRAPHIC WARNING – IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE A CHIPMUNK GET IT, DON’T LOOK TOO FAR DOWN THIS POST.]
I’ve been noticing this behavior each spring/summer lately, so I checked my files and found the earliest picture I had of one in the yard was 2013 – that was before the shop was built (2016) and before the gardens went in, starting about the same time.
So for at least nine years there’s been a heron stalking small mammals in the yard.
The shop functions as an excellent blind for viewing & photographing these birds. If you have the patience. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes for the heron to get in position, sometimes only 5. And sometimes the slightest movement from me – and off they go.
This week, out the back windows I saw the heron come into the garden. So I got in position inside the shop and waited for it to make its way to the bird feeders.
I got lucky & got the shots as it found its prey under the bird feeders.
Even I won’t post the photos of what happens next – the heron takes the chipmunk & drowns it before swallowing it. My kids hate that I watch this drama, they think I should scare the heron away. But it’s the only chance I get to see a heron up close – they spook so easily otherwise.
Is it the same heron all these years? Well, it certainly could be. Or it isn’t. Take your pick. The longest-living great blue heron on record was about 23-24 years old. They typically live about 15 years, according to some websites I saw. But those same sites pointed out that many birds don’t live through their first year, including herons.
I was only in the shop a few hours yesterday and a heron was here at least 3 times. Scored once, got spooked away twice. But who knows how many times there’s a heron there when I’m not looking? I looked out from the house last evening as I was writing this post & it was back. And there’s parts of the yard I can’t see from the shop or the house…and there’s chipmunks all over.
The photo below is post-bath in the river, coming looking for another meal.
There I read about their feeding sites – “These herons typically defend their feeding sites, either a large territory held alone or individual areas when feeding in an aggregation. Territories are defended in both winter and summer. In Oregon, territories averaged 8.4 ha on the coast and 0.6 ha inland; In Canada, males defended territories while females and juveniles fed communally (Butler 1992).”
I thought that I only ever see multiple herons in the autumn, and one-heron-at-a-time otherwise. But I knew of the photo below and when I found it saw it’s dated early August. But maybe this is the juveniles and females.
Easier, even. Last week some friends came by for a long-delayed visit with a distinct focus. Lately, Rick McKee https://www.instagram.com/medullary_rick/?hl=en & Justin Keegan have been carving spoons a lot and they came over to see a pile of them for ideas & inspiration. Pret came too, but he’s got a slew of spoons at his house that parallels my pile. I haven’t carved any spoons for over a year so I wasn’t sure what I had to add other than access.
We spent quite a bit of time looking at examples from makers known & unknown. Tip of the iceberg. In the course of things, Justin found one he really loved and asked who made it. “Oh, an English carver named Adam Hawker.” He about flipped out – has apparently been stalking Adam’s spoons on the web. https://www.instagram.com/adamhawker1/?hl=en
What I didn’t expect is that I’d be inspired as well. Their excitement got me to dig through my basket & carve an old dry cherry spoon, then I got out some fresh apple & hewed & carved another the next day. It remains to be seen if I finish either of them – but at this point I still like them. Why risk that by finishing them?
I’ve been working away on the joined chest video series. I made the floor boards last week – white pine, tongue & grooved.
Then yesterday I carved the first 2 of four panels.
Hopefully next week I’ll cut the till parts and do the assembly. Meanwhile, I added a video yesterday to the site – cutting the joinery for the rear section and fitting panels in the ends. I hope to have these next 2 videos (the floor and the carvings) next week as well. There’s a link in the sidebar – for some reason I can’t make it link in here today. Instead it throws in this trailer for the overview of the project…
It’s been a while since I had stock on hand to sell. I finished an oak box recently and dug out a butternut one from the loft. Up there was a ladderback chair as well. So here goes. If you’d like any of these, leave me a comment and we’ll sort out the details, usually it’s either paypal or a check. Prices include shipping in US. And just a reminder that I take custom orders as well – I have some chairs underway for people who ordered them.
CARVED OAK BOX H: 8″ W: 24″ D: 13 1/2″
white pine lid & bottom $1,400 includes shipping in US.
The inside features a lidded till. The sides and bottoms of tills are made from what I find around the shop. In this case, a black walnut till side.
CARVED BOX – SOLD butternut and oak H: 9 1/4″ W: 23 3/4″ D: 15″ $1,400 includes shipping in US
This box is butternut (juglans cinerea) except for the rear board & cleats under the lid, which are red oak. It’s a big box, the boards I had on hand dictated the size. And in turn allowed a lot of carving…
The end view
And a detail of the front –
LADDERBACK CHAIR red oak posts & slats, hickory rungs. Shaker tape seat H: 33 1/4″ W: (across front posts): 17 1/4″ D: (from rear post-tops to front posts): 16″ Seat height 17 1/4″ $1,200
This is one of my chairs patterned after Jennie Alexander’s chair. Mine’s a bit heavier in its parts (& overall) than JA’s. But hers were the lightest of all.