I engage in this ridiculous fantasy that I will get the loft in my shop cleaned up & functional, beyond dis-organized storage. Every so often I get close to halfway there…then all hell breaks loose again. I was up there last week and found this walnut box, filled with odd (mis-matched) coils of hickory bark. I knew right above the box were some walnut boards I brought home from Heather’s one year…and that I had one more pair of hinges. So the time was right to finish off this box that might be 10 years old…
The carving is based on a London-style box fragment I once studied, from the first decade of the 17th century. Otherwise, I made up the whole thing according to some walnut boards I had at the time. Dovetailed corners, the back board is white oak, the bottom white pine. The attached base molding covers the edges of the bottom. No till inside, just a bare-bones box.
H: 6 1/2″ W: 24 1/4″ D: 14 3/4″
I can’t sell a 10-year old box for brand-new prices, so this one’s $650 including shipping in US.
Just what it says. First, looking down the river early in the morning
One day I was down there at low tide, and was able to get this heron who was stalking by…
Some years ago, this was all just a lawn. Maureen killed it to put in this garden over the past two summers. It’s a great improvement, now a very lively place.
One of this year’s sunflowers. It’s been very dry here this year, and her garden has struggled, but it’s still better than the lawn..
We’ve been over-run with rabbits, seems like every week there’s a new batch. I zoomed on this photo and can see my reflection in his pupil.
Opening up the shop very early one morning. When we had a heat wave, I’d sometimes start work in there about 6:30 am.
Then later in the day, I’d go swimming in the river. If the tide was right…
Back to some of those early-morning shots of great blue herons. At first, I thought there was two of them…
Then I stepped a bit further, and spooked two more…
One day I heard all this commotion out in the river, and looked out and there was about 20 teenagers floating down the river. I’d never seen it before, but Maureen said she’s seen it each summer. I must have been travelling.
I don’t take pictures of the shavings, in fact I rail against them. But I do shoot photos of these tendrils. So I guess I’ll shut up.
A swallowtail butterfly, I think. Is it an eastern tiger swallowtail? I don’t know butterflies well.
I do know the birds. Here’s a northern cardinal molting most of his feathers at once. He looks a wreck, but he’s fine. I’ve seen him since, and he’s filling those feathers back out…
The anti-gravity squirrel.
The juvenile red-tailed hawk – he’s welcome to some rabbits, or chipmunks.
A wren, outside the shop. Sometimes they’re inside the shop too.
Every summer about this time we take a day-trip to Martha’s Vineyard to visit Heather & Pat who are usually up here then for Heather’s annual showing of her paintings at the Granary Gallery. But of course, not this summer. The Gallery is open, they’re just not going to be up here for it.
But, if you’ve ever looked at a painting and wanted to know what the artist was thinking, doing, aiming for, etc – Heather’s got you covered. Every year she writes up and posts on her blog the “Painter’s Notes” for each painting. This year she wrote them, but then as a bonus, made & posted videos of her reading them, and you get to see the details you’d get if you were in the gallery. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr5V2NLf6_DnGkNzqH-amHA
As I was getting this blog post ready, I went to Heather’s new youtube channel to get some links, and found the newest video, a sort-of interview with her and her wife Pat – so that’s as good a place as any to start. Then go see the rest. Amazing work, great people.
there’s lots – some are her reading the notes, a couple others tell broader parts of the stories. Some just show us the paintings.
I’ve been finishing up some stuff in the shop, pegging the slats in this hickory ladderback chair this afternoon. It’s nearly impossible for me to work on projects like this one & not think of my friend Drew Langsner. I sound like a broken record over the years, but Drew and his wife Louise changed my life.
Many others too I’m sure. 2020 has not been a good year for anyone, or if it has, they had best keep quiet about it. For Drew, it featured a long medical hassle that he’d just come through when two weeks ago as a coda he had emergency bypass surgery. I spoke to him the other day, and he was happy to be home after his time in the hospital. He had great praise for the staff at the Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C. – and was relating to me all the new challenges; (“if your butt goes down, your feet come up” is the new mantra). Finding a flat place to walk around their farm is the trick now…
If you’re not familiar with Drew’s work; it’s a long story, but from about 1977 onward for 40 years, he & Louise ran a hand-tool woodworking school on their place in western North Carolina. Starting with just a few week-long classes in the summer, eventually they added workshops year-round. Chair-making, basketry, timber framing, spoon & bowl carving, Japanese woodworking tools, and on & on. If you carve spoons in slojd/sloyd style in America – it’s because of them, whether you know it or not. I’ve written about their place a number of times over the years – https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/?s=country+workshops
He’s written several books, the first one I saw was Country Woodcraft back in 1978. Lost Art Press is working on the new edition of that book, slated to come out this year. I’ll be sure to post a notice when it’s available. Back at Greenwood Fest #2 in 2017, we were lucky enough to be able to host Drew & Louise as a way of honoring their enduring contribution to our craft. This is a group photo from our Greenwood Fest of folks who had been to Country Workshops at some point over the years…
It was a highlight for me to be able to include them that way in that event, after all they’ve done for me. They gave a talk there about the 40-year history of their school Country Workshops. It was great to view those old, and not-so-old, photos, but few have Drew in them…someone sent me this one of Drew from that visit in Plymouth in 2017.
So, now Drew is hanging around the house recuperating from heart surgery. I know he reads this blog, so if you’d like to leave a comment for him here, I’ll be sure he sees them. Even better though – if you’d like to send a card or a note in the US mail – they’ll make their way out to the mailbox at some point…that address is Drew Langsner 775 Black Pine Ridge Rd Marshall, N.C. 28753
All right, let’s send some healing best wishes down to that mountain…
I’ve been working on a series of carving videos to go with the upcoming drawings/patterns (out for what we figure is the final test-print now) – I’ll write more about these series of drawings soon. One thing about them is that they are grouped according to bodies of work I have studied for 30 years now. The first set will be called “Devon, England and Ipswich, Massachusetts – set 1.” If things go well (polite-speak for “if they sell…”) there will be at least one, maybe two more from that group, and many others besides. There’s lots of groups/shop-traditions/locales – when I was studying surviving furniture, the goal was to see as many related works as possible, to better understand what is “normal” versus what is an aberration.
But there were/are times when I come across an object for which there is no known history and no obvious related works. My friend Trent and I used to use an informal shorthand for these – UFOs.
The carving at the top of this post is my version of one of these UFO patterns. It’s a typical format – the use of lunettes above and below a horizontal centerline – I carved a different take on it in my first Lie-Nielsen video years ago, and in the book Joiner’s Work. But this “infill” is slightly made up by me, using a photo from Vic Chinnery’s Oak Furniture: The British Tradition as a starting point.
So this one doesn’t fit into any grouping – thus I shot a video of it just because I had a wide enough board. And it gives us a carving video-tease until the real thing comes along… I shot some new footage for an opening sequence and Daniel put it together perfectly…we hope you like it.
We’ll still finish the basket-making series, but I’ve been up to my eyeballs in carving lately and wanted to show some. Here goes:
I have some baskets & a few pieces of oak furniture for sale.
The furniture is all joined & carved by hand. Almost all the oak was split from a log, hewn & planed, etc. (except for the box lid and chair seat – those are quartersawn stock) Construction details are throughout the blog here, in my videos w Lie-Nielsen and books with Lost Art Press.
The carved box I can pack & ship. The larger pieces I will have to take somewhere (UPS probably) to be packed & shipped. Or I can deliver them within a couple hours’ drive of Kingston MA. (or you can come pick them up if you wear a mask…)
The baskets are all ash, with hickory rims & handles. There’s videos on the blog recently, showing all the steps in making baskets, from pounding the log apart, weaving, (and next up for the videos) shaving and bending handles & rims.
If you’d like to purchase anything, leave a comment here or send an email email@example.com you can pay through paypal (with additional fees) or send a check. Just let me know which you prefer.
The carved box is the only one ready for sale right now, but I have two more underway, and will take orders for boxes anytime. They’re something I keep stock for all the time, so there’s never too long a wait for one. Email me if you’d like to order something.
Thanks as always,
CARVED OAK BOX –
white & red oak, white pine bottom.
H: 8 1/2″ W: 23 3/8″ D: 13″
$1,050 includes shipping in US.
This pattern is often found on 17th-century work – a surprising amount of detail in small spaces. (the bottom photo shows the detail well…)
Glued & pegged at the corners, bottom nailed on w handmade nails. Handmade hinges as well. A lidded till inside.
JOINED & CARVED CHEST
red oak & white pine. Handmade hinges & nails. Lidded till inside.
H: 30 1/2″ W: 45″ D: 21 1/4″
$4,000 plus shipping.
I was recently trying to estimate how many joined chests I’ve made. It’s well over 60. This is one of my favorites – the wide front panels separated by an extra-wide muntin is an unusual format. I based mine on a Devon chest I saw 20 years ago, and have seen others presumably by the same maker since then in photographs. Back when I was writing my book, I wanted to include a short detour on making the “brackets” that fit under the bottom rail. So I made this chest just to get the photos for the book! Then it sat around unfinished for years. Now it’s done, and there’s no room in the house for it. Room for your (or someone’s) initials or date on the muntin…
Here it is with junk piled on it:
I cleared out some room in the shop today to take “proper” photographs (as proper as I’m going to get…) – but there’s only room for the 53″ wide paper, and the chest is 45″ wide. Technically, it fits on the paper, but not for a photo…so here is what I call a “half-view” –
The lidded till inside, and the handmade hinges visible in the rear rail.
The only way it fit, but you can’t see the front. Two-panel ends, typical of my chests. Single-board white pine lid.
One of the panels in this chest:
red and white oak. Finial is ash.
H: 47 1/2″ W: (widest point across front of seat) 25 1/2″ D: c. 24″ Seat height: 18 1/2″
$4,000 plus shipping
I’ve made versions of this chair three times before. This one I designed the panel as well as the top rear rail, just below the crest. Otherwise, it’s a close copy to two originals made in Ipswich Massachusetts, probably by Thomas Dennis, between the late 1660s and 1700.
Sometimes it seems from photos that these chairs are huge, there’s a shot in this gallery of me in the chair & you’ll get a sense of its actual size.
BASKETS – All of these are ash splints, with hickory handles and rims. Most, maybe all, have hickory bark lashing around the rims. These baskets are made for use; I’ve been using baskets like these around the shop and house for over 30 years.
If you’d like to purchase one, leave a comment here. Prices include shipping in the US – you can pay through paypal or send a check. Just let me know which you prefer.
large round basket –
14″ diameter at rims, basket height 9″ to handle 18″
$600 including shipping in US.
rectangular basket – SOLD
10″ x 13″ at rims; basket height is 8″, to handle about 15″
$400 including shipping in US.
Swing-handle round basket – SOLD
12 1/2″ – 13″ diameter at rims; basket height 8 3/4″, overall 16″ high.
$500 including shipping in US.
This form is a favorite of mine, based on baskets made in eastern New York state in the early 20th century.
long rectangular basket SOLD
10″ x 16 1/2″ at rims, basket height 6″, to handle 14″
$400 including shipping in US.
square-to-round basket SOLD
10″ diameter at rims, basket height 9″, to handle 17″
$350 including shipping in US.
This one took some effort. It had been a while since I looked at the video footage I had of the next step in basket-making. And there were some holes in the sequence. So this one might be a bit choppy, maybe too long in some places and too short in others, but such as it is, here’s the last steps in weaving the basket.
a lot of photographs today. I got some nice quartersawn oak (thanks Rick D) – and have been using it for box lids and now the seat to my wainscot chair that’s been hanging around waiting to get finished.
I didn’t shoot the whole sequence of test-fitting the seat over those front stiles. A lot of wriggling around to get it just right…then you peg it to the side and front rails.
Then the arms can go back on, and get pegged to the rear & front stiles. Above you can see why the arms go on after the seat, you couldn’t peg the seat down if the arms were in place.
After the arms are pinned, it’s time to carve & install these figures that adorn the edges of the rear stiles. All I know about the two originals these are based on is that there are two or three large nails fixing these things in place. Whether there’s anything more than that is conjecture. But I’ll show you what I did.
This is one case where I use a template to outline the pattern.
Then I use a V-tool to cut just outside this outline, I find this helps when sawing the shape out.
A turning saw, used carefully, does a good job of roughing out the scrolls and other bits.
Then I clean up with a large #5 carving gouge. Often with the bevel up.
Carving some of the details.
Installing it – I add some belt-and-suspenders action. I use pegs between the stile and this appliled ornament. To locate them, I drove two small wire brads into the applied bit, then snipped off their heads.
Then blammed it in place and the brads made prick marks where I then want to bore holes. I pulled the brads and bored 3/8″ holes in the applied bit and the stiles.
then shaved a couple of small pins, and glued the whole thing & knocked it in place. Then clamped it and came in for lunch. Later I’ll add a couple of toe-nailed wrought nails.
I’ve heard many names for these figures. We often refer to them as “Easter Island” figures, which is of course nonsense. I learned of Atlantes/Atlas, carytids, and probably other names too. Jennie Alexander gave me a copy of Cyril Harris’ Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture many years ago. Told me to keep it in the bathroom. I did for a while. But now it’s in the shop. There, I looked up “termes” – what I knew as another name for these figures. Harris has “terminus” – “the upper part of a human body springing out of a plain block…pilaster, console, bracket OR THE LIKE”!
It’s high summer here now, but back when I shot this video of basket-making, it was still cool enough for long-sleeve shirts, etc.
Daniel has just finished editing the next installment, weaving a rectangular basket, part 1. There’ll be more of these, I’m finishing up handles and rims these days, between other stuff.