Posted in past events on May 24, 2010 |
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May has been a busy month, both with spring pole demonstrations and with regular work. Every two weeks for the last six weeks I have had opportunities to take the lathe on the road locally. For the second year in a row I was at Olde Dover Days and at the Mennonite Spring Festival and Auction. I sold quite a lot of stuff and spoke to new people. All was not well. I had gone to my truck for a moment and when I had started back I saw a young boy who had picked up my trimming axe and was trying to chop wood with it. The handle is designed for close, vertical trimming strokes. Long chopping strokes could just as easily land the blade against your leg or knee. Fortunately, no harm was done and I took the time to remind him of the lessons he had from home about getting into other people’s property. My own lesson is to be sure my tools are secure before turning my attention away from them in a public place. Again not well was an elderly gentleman who was fairly upset with the idea that I was doing such nice work with such poor materials. I went through the steps of splitting the wood on the radius in order to interrupt the circular shrinkage that causes splitting and I assured him that all the turnings on display were done in this manner but I don’t think he quite accepted the idea.
Interestingly, I found my self continuing several conversations from last year, especially with regard to not having much of any use for mulberry wood.
I have begun bringing a sash-frame saw which I can attach to the lathe bed. It works with the pole in an up and down motion. I have used it for sawing out slab seats for stools as well as for parting spoon turnings down the correct center. I have tried to split out two spoon halves from a turning but I seem to always end up with a round handled spoon and a “turtle” shape. Jonas Miller asked about the saw set up so I went through the whole process: splitting, turning, sawing, and finally carving the bowl in a piece of holly. In the end, I traded the spoon for some yew he had brought to show me.
Finally, at the end of the Mennonite Festival, there was one fellow with whom I had a long running conversation on many woodworking topics including (ugh) sharpening. Having now been set on by this fellow and my oldest son about sharpening, I have redeveloped my means and methods for sharpening which I will give further details about in my next blog entry.
As far as I know, I don’t have any events scheduled until sometime in July. If any thing comes up, I’ll be posting it here.
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At our second outing/craft show/demonstration, there were not so many people due to inclement weather and a fairly secluded location. Also, the local newspapers were not very cooperative with their advertising. All in all, we had a pretty good time. The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve hosted the event and did a very good job of providing us with facilities including a huge tent for shelter and several food vendors.
Special thanks to Kim Cole who managed the whole affair. Once again, Tish kept shop and managed to finish a bracelet she had been working on. I sold a few flowers and tree hooks.
As I worked on the spring pole lathe, a number of people made comments and asked questions. One on-going discussion was about muscle over development which I said was not a problem as I switched legs often enough either due to fatigue (mostly in my standing leg) or to get a better position to hold the tool. Also, as with any regular activity, muscle development reaches a point where it is simply enough to do the work. I think people have an image of Arnold Schwarzenegger (I got the spelling from a copy of The Terminator) with his bulgings and svelteness. Body builders build their bodies. The rest of us “build?” only what is necessary for what we do. So, even though one arm might be more developed for a carpenter who swings a hammer all day, there is a limit to how much development will take place.
The main question was of course, what is this and what are you doing. My answer usually starts out that I am making a mess which I follow with a little history of tool and simple machine making. It all begins with spinning a stick between the palms to make a hole or to cause enough friction to start a fire. Add a bow to increase the number of rotations and speed things up. So far, the stick is a tool. By mounting the stick between centers but still using a bow to rotate it, a second stick/tool can be used to shape the stick into a third product, perhaps a stool leg or a handle. Finally, a large frame with a spring pole can produce larger objects. The principle- reciprocal motion- remains the same. One woman actually called the lathe primitive although most people were fairly amazed at the effectiveness of the whole thing.
Later in the afternoon, several elementary school aged kids got to “help” me. While they worked the treadle, I did a bit of turning near the the waste end of the stick. I shall have to get a box for them to stand on so they can better see the effect of what they are doing, but a good time was had anyway. Later, it started raining again. At this, I remarked that it must be time to pack up and go home, and that we did. On the way home we stopped at the Hartley firehouse for two chicken and dumpling dinners.
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Some photos from the Blackbird Creek Fall Festival, by Life On The Edges. For full album (20 photos) click here.
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Photos by Sir Thomas The Gun For full album (148 photos) click here.
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We had really good weather and about 300 people came through our area. Tish and I both sold a few things so our gas was covered as well as lunch and a few culinary acquisitions for later.
Tish really enjoyed playing “shop” and took care of the retail duties. She sold some of her jewelry and knit things as well as a few hobo flowers and other wood stuff. She particularly enjoyed talking with a young man from Seaford who seemed to only be able to admire the craft of others but is unable to do such things himself. Tish pointed out that he should add “yet” to what he was saying and that he might not be able only because he has not tried.
The pole lathe made for some interesting discussions throughout the day. Most people enjoyed and appreciated the work I was doing although one fellow jokingly directed me to the local building and home center to get a real lathe. It is always interesting how interacting with others can help me to understand, define, and improve my craft as well my own view of how and why I do the things I do. Its always good to get encouragement from others as well as affirmation of personal points of view. It has been said that “Iron sharpens iron” and ” If you like what you are doing, its not really work” and that. I really liked what we were doing there.
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