Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winding down at Antigonish

This coming Saturday, December 22, will be your last chance to come visit me at Antigonish Farmer's Market until it re-opens again next spring. Dress warm though, because even with the space heaters, it is still very cold in the barn. Last Saturday moisture was freezing in the roof space and falling as showers of tiny snow flakes. But even so everyone was very cheerful and busy buying produce and gifts. One lady turned up with a basket of kittens looking for new homes and it wasn't long before they were all adopted. Not a bad way to get rid of kittens, but it would have been better if the mother had been fixed before the accident happened.

I have to say that I have been very pleased with both the way the market is run, and the support shown to me by the people of Antigonish, and I thank you all very much. It is very encouraging, and I will be looking at ways to show my wares at other markets around the province next year. The new market that is planned for Halifax looks very exciting in terms of its "green" construction. I hope that one day I might be able to show my work there. Here is a short video presentation outlining its construction:

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Fall Schedule

Last weekend I started taking a booth at Antigonish Farmer's Market, and so far it has been very successful. Here is a picture of my set-up this weekend. The market is open for only three hours on a Saturday morning, so I built some new displays which are fast to set up and easy to fit in the car.

I have two craft shows coming up.

October 13/14, Hogmanay, in New Glasgow at North Nova Education Centre, which is in support of their music program.

November 17/18, Festive Craft Market, Langille Athletic Centre, Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.

I will be back at Antigonish on 20 and 27 of October, 9am- noon. I hope to be able to join them in November and December, but they haven't decided on a venue and there may not be space. So stay tuned news on that.

At other times I am usually in the studio and welcome visitors, but it is best to contact me before travelling to arrange an appointment in case I am out.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New work

I have been working on the third set in my Triplets series for several months. They are made from a block of really interesting elm which has some nice figure and huge area of bark inclusion. They turned out really nicely in the end, but the twisted grain of the wood made it a real pain to work with. I had to spend a lot more time than I wanted with a knife cleaning up cuts, texturing some surfaces with carving gouges, and sanding. I called this set The Bothersome Brothers.

But they surprised me by selling within a week of going on the shelf. I hadn't even had a chance to take proper photos of them, but their proud new owner was patient enough to let me take this shot before they left for their new home.

I have also started making pendants:

These particular ones are turned from various burl woods. They are strung on a soft nylon cord which is adjustable in length. They are selling very well and I am exploring other design options and ways of stringing them. I have some clasps and other stringing materials on order and look forward to trying them out. I also ordered some findings to make matching ear rings.

Stay tuned. I hope to be able to offer these from the website very soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How important are handcrafted items in your life?

How important are handcrafted items in your life? This is the question that will be addressed on the Maritime Noon phone-in, tomorrow, Friday, July 13th.

In a world that's awash in mass-produced products, certain individuals still devote themselves to making things that are unique. Artisans around the Maritimes create everyday items like coffee mugs & breadboards, accessories like earrings & shawls, and fanciful objects that blend various media and defy description.

Maritime Noon is the lunch time radio show of CBC serving Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. It can be listened to live from the links on the Maritime Noon homepage, and will be archived for one week from their Phone In page. The phone in starts after the one o'clock news (Atlantic Standard Time).

I will be listening. It will be interesting to learn what my potential customers have to say. If you can't get on the phone-in, why not leave a comment here and tell me what you think about handcrafted items, or what you think of the comments made by the phone-in participants.

update: (Due to special coverage of the Lord Black trial, this show was shortened to about 30 minutes and started at 1:30 or thereabouts)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer season

It's summer now at Seafoam Woodturning Studio, though you wouldn't guess by looking out the window here today. Anyway, the studio at Seafoam is now open on a regular basis, Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and most Fridays by chance or arrangement. At weekends I will be at the Pictou Weekend Craft Market. I hope to see you soon!

If you aren't familiar with the area, SunriseTrail.ca will help you plan your visit, and our Google map will help you find both my studio and the craft market.

Monday, April 30, 2007

One log, thirty three bowls and a pup

Last Friday I found a nice message waiting for me on the answering machine. A neighbour had cut a yellow birch log for me and hauled it out to the roadside with his horse. All I had to do was go get it, so I fueled up the chainsaw, threw it in the trunk and off I went. It was a nice clear log with no noticeable defects, eight to ten feet long , and between twelve and fifteen inches in diameter. I soon had it cut into three more manageable pieces, then wrestled them onto the back seat of the car. Not the ideal transport arrangement, but the best I can manage right now.

Over the last few days I have been roughing out bowl blanks from that one log. Using the coring device shown below, I was able to to get thirty three bowl blanks from it.

Here are the bowls blanks which will be set aside to dry for several months. They vary in size from about six inches upt to thirteen inches in diameter. The photo also shows a couple of the tools that I used and the pile of wet shavings that came from them. Without the coring tool, I would only have got eighteen bowls and a much larger pile of shavings.

This is also a good opportunity to introduce you to the newest member of the Seafoam Woodturning team, Sasha MacDasha, a three year old toy poodle.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Interviewed for Layers Upon Layers

Hey folks! My friend Cyndi Lavin, a professional blogger who writes for b5media, has just posted an interview we did recently.

Cyndi asked some searching questions that made me really think about things I take for granted in my day to day work. Do take a look if you want to learn more about the work I do, and check out the rest of Cyndi's blog while you are there. She is a great writer and always has some interesting things to share.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Busy doing nothing?

At this time of year I tend to spend a lot of time doing preparatory work, but not actually getting anything finished. Lately I have been rough turning salad bowls blanks. Here I am hollowing a medium sized bowl and creating a pile of shavings on the floor.

Here I am working on a larger bowl blank. This picture gives a good idea of the long shavings that come off when turning green wood, that is wood that still has moisture in it. It is softer and more flexible than dried wood, so it is quite easy to make wide cuts and the shavings are less likely to break into small chips.

I did get to spend some time turning some smaller salad bowl blanks that have been taking up shelf space in my drying room. At the moment I seem to be in the enviable position of having nearly too much wood, and need to clear space for it all.

These bowls have since had one application of walnut oil. Tonight I plan on giving them a second coat, then when that is dry in a week or so they will be ready to go out on the gallery shelf. I might put a few for sale here, so do watch this space if you think you could use a kitchen-safe wooden bowl.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Kitchenware care

Caring for your spurtle or salad bowl is a simple case of washing it in warm soapy water and drying thoroughly. An occasional application of oil or wax may be called for, but for the most part timely washing will keep your wooden kitchenware in good condition.

But if it takes on an odour such as garlic or onion, try rubbing it with a slice of lemon, lime or orange, then sprinkle with salt and wipe with a paper cloth.

In more extreme cases where food has gone off in the bowl, such as fruit which has been forgotten, try making a mixture of mineral oil and pumice powder. Rub this into the bowl with a cloth. Many applications may be needed, but this is probably the safest way for consumers to fix a bowl.

I once had a customer come to me with an old bowl, not one of mine I should add, that had had some fruit go off in it. The bottom was a really sticky mess and I had to remove quite a bit of wood to get back to a reasonably good finish. Sandpaper is not much use in cases like this since it will gum up right away. I used a curved cabinet scraper, but even then it was a tediously slow job.