Linda requested a large acorn finial for her new summerhouse down in London. After some discussion as to how large would be appropriate, we settled on an 11 inch tall acorn on a 14 inch diameter base. To create the requested 4 inch thickness for the base, three pieces of ash were used, in the end amounting to about 5 inches high.
Jermaine requested two more chisels to act as Design Technology Awards at a school in Tottenham. These two are "black" walnut on aok bases. They are inscribed on both sides of the plinth.
Ron also requested five pen sets with inscribed boxes. The pens here are Slimline twist pens with satin gold metal parts, turned from evergreen oak (quesrcus ilex). More
Ron requested a tea light trio with some dedications on the barrels. This little set is made from holly, a slightly unusual wood to come across for woodturning. It is white when cut, but turns a greyish brown as it ages. This has a little speckling and spalting in it to make it more interesting. the inscriptions are pyrographed on.
Adam, who requested a thistle finial back in August, was kind enough to send me a photo of the finished product on his summerhouse, stained to match the rest of the building. . More
Two trophies made for Malton School's Key Stage 3 Celebration Evening. A Young Cricketer trophy, made from ash and padauk, and a House Cup turned from oak. Just two of 27 trophies made for the event. More
Two triangle peg solitaire puzzles, made as awards for the winners of the Junior and Intermediate Maths Challenge at Malton School. The pegs are (wooden) golf tees, the boards are oak. The badge is enamel. the inscriptions are pyrographed.
Another clock, this time made from a piece of burr horse chestnut. This one has a four inch diameter skeleton clock movement, slightly smaller to accommodate the large burr.
Full of character, I make these burr clocks when I find burrs - they can be hard to make to order as the burrs are not readily available..
Two burr oak mantel clocks, with 5 inch diameter skeleton movements. A popular item, but be aware that they can only be made when suitable burrs "come up", and no two will be alike. More
Another chisel 'trophy', made as a gift for Sophia, with an intriguing inscription requested by Jack. Made in sonokeling rosewood, with a cedarwood base. More
A communion tray for Caton Baptist Church, designed to hold forty communion wine glasses.
The whole piece is made from oak, with two boards planed and smoothed, a turned handle, turned spacers between the layers, and turned button feet. More
A roof finial for a summerhouse, based on a similar item I have made in the shape of an acorn. This piece stands about 12 inches high, and is 7 inches wide at the base. It is made from cedarwood - used for its high resistance to rot - and left untreated so that a stain can be applied by the customer to match the rest of his summerhouse.
Being a thistle, it will come as no surprise that the customer lives in Edinburgh. More
Another acorn finial, this time for my own use in the garden. I recently refurbished a twenty year old pergola which had become weighed down with ivy and suffering some rot. I put a roof on, covered with felt shingles, and then put this on to top it all off, with a roof boss underneath. The acorn is cedar, the base is ash. More
Two more peg looms made for a lady I used to work with.
Thirty dowel pegs with a small hole in for threading the wool, all in an ash base. Just over two feet long. No woodturning involved anywhere in these, just drilling and planing. More
Another cricket trophy. This one is to be presented at an annual challenge match between Harrow Wanderers and Gemini, to be played on 31 July. It is in memory of a former club member, A J N Dawson.
Like other recent cricket trophies, it is made from ash, with olive ash for the base, and padauk for the ball. Everything was finished with three coats of wax, the final coat being carnauba. More
A solid oak mantelpiece resting on turned oak supports, made to measure for my sister-in-law to fit above this small electric stove. It was based on a similar mantelpiece which I have in my own home.
The oak is in its natural colour, quite light, and there is a small amount of burr in the supports.
Everything was finished with three coats of wax, the final coat being carnauba. More
A lady who was retiring wished to donate a trophy to her school, to be awarded for leasdership. Discussion about suitable symbols led to a chess-theme, with four different sized pawns and a king or queen figure in the centre, The piece was made from olive ash and sapele, in recognition of the lady's name (Olive). Pyrography was used to add an inscription and a school badge. More
Another chisel as a resistant materials award for Northumberland Park School in Tottenham. Bubinga on an oak base. More
Another pentagonal trophy to be presented as a maths achievement award at a primary school in St Albans. The whole piece is made from sycamore with some lovely rippling, and is about 10 inches across by 12 inches high. Inscriptions are pyrographed onto the base and the centre of the trophy, and this year's winner is noted on the small pentagonal shield attached to the trophy at the top. More
Five more spalted beech acorn awards, this time for Atkins Aerospace company in Cheltenham. Some really nice spalting in this wood, with marked contrasts from creamy white to black. Pyrography was used to add the inscriptions on the trophy bases. Quite large, at 4 inches wide, by 9 inches tall. More
Six more flame trophies for kiln-dried wood providers Logs Direct. These are made in spalted beech, and are awarded to a wood fired restaurant each month as a "woody award". Obviously the design is made to match the context of the award.
Another unusual request. No woodturning involved in this one, just some general woodworking skills. This is a peg loom - wood is threaded onto each peg and then is woven to make a cloth. The block at the front of the picture was the model for the loom, the one at the rear is my copy. More
An unusual request - a "wedding log". The idea is that guests at the wedding all sign their names on the wood. The scale is lost in the photo - this is a slice of ash, 3 feet long, 1 foot wide sanded, sealed and inscribed.
This trophy was requested by a man in Cornwalll who wanted to present it to a former teacher who had led an expedition to climb the big peaks in Britain way back in 1973. This included Ben Nevis.
The trophy is made from olive ash. The plinth was made large enough to take a brass plaque which the customer was going to attach. More
A selection of acorn keyrings in different sizes. They all have the same gold key ring kit, but vary in width from about 7/8 inch to 1 3/4 inches. The ruler is in the photograph to give some idea of scale.
All are made from oak, with pyrography used to give the cup effect.
A child's four-legged stool with a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine pyrographed on the seat, similar to the Bertie Bus stool I made a couple of years ago. In fact this one is for the same family. There is also an inscription around the rim of the school, marking Thomas James' birthday.
The whole stool is made in ash, which adds an interesting grain pattern to the picture. More
A request for an acorn finial for a summerhouse. This is 12" tall overall, with a 9" base and 4" wide acorn. All made in cedar, used for its high resistance to the effects of the weather. It was left untreated as the customer is going to paint it to match his summerhouse. A roof boss was also made in the same wood, to fit inside the summerhouse at the apex of the roof.
A lady requested a money box in spalted beech, and particularly liked the more barrel-shaped versions. I confess I agree with her taste, and I will probably make all future money boxes more barrel shaped.
This customer collects small wooden items, and enjoys the spirituality of them, often taking a piece with her to the woods or the mountains for a quiet, contemplation amongst the wood still growing. More
I gave my first woodturning demonstration last week, to the members of Snainton Woodturning Club. A couple of hours showing how I turn trophies (using an individual disc trophy as an example) and how I add inscriptions using pyrography. There is a fairly full illustrated write-up of the demonstration on the Snainton Woodturning Club website.
A small stool made for my son as a step-up to allow him to reach books on the top shelf of the bookcase. All in oak, with Windsor style legs attached with wedged circular tenons to a rectangular seat / step. The legs are slightly splayed at angle of about fifteen degrees.
A picture of Carperby in the Yorkshire Dales, viewed from the path between Carperby and Aysgarth Falls. We spent a very enjoyable weekend there a couple of years ago, staying at The Wheatsheaf Inn. A plaque by the door said that Alf White (James Herriott) stayed there many years earlier on his honeymoon.
The picture is pyrographed on to a sycamore platter, about 12 " diameter. More
Some trials for cakestands for a catering company. In oak, with varying heights and diameters, and one version designed to take a cloche.
My brother asked if I could turn a new base for a carriage clock he has. The original base was a brass plate affair that had seen better days. The result is the olive-ash plinth shown here. Good strong grain patterns accentuated by the darker wood characteristic of "olive-ash", cut from the centre of the tree.
I have made a variety of replacement plinths for old trophies and ornaments, and now clocks as well!
My sister-in-law asked if I would make a small casket for her pet cat's ashes, recently departed after a long and leisurely life. She wanted something simple and ornamental, and not too urn-like. As a result I came up with a simple small hollow form shape, and provided her with a choice of lids to suit her taste. The one shown here has an ebony finial - there are others on the full page description. More
More cricket trophies, this time for a club down in Cornwall. The smaller one is a full sized cricket ball turned in padauk on a spalted beech stand, with seam and stitching. The larger one is my standard wicket ball and bails design, in olive ash with a padauk ball. Incidentally the ball, bails and wicket here are totally out of scale - they would be too small and too thin if they were in proportion. More
Ten acorn trophies made from spalted beech, a repeat order for a forestry company who I made some for a couple of years ago. The variation in colour and pattern is shown by this line up. The trick is to get the colour and pattern without sacrificing the nature of the wood.
Two jewellery boxes, turned from sapele with a pyrographed rose stencil on top, and an ebony knob on top. The boxes have a shelf inside with six circular dishes turned to hold small items such as rings or ear studs. They are about 7 inches diameter, and about 3 inches high. Sapele is an African timber, similar to mahogany, not as yet on the endangered species list.
A trophy made for Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Alford, Lincolnshire, to be awarded to the best student of languages. The main trophy is a 10" diameter elm disc, on an elm plinth. The centrepiece is sycamore, which with finer, more even grain, allowed the detail in the school's coat of arms to be pyrographed with reasonable accuracy.
A trophy made for the Royal Marines in Plymouth, who are holding an orienteering championship. A similar design to other orienteering trophies made a couple of years ago. The piece is a 9 inch diameter disc in rippled ash, resting at a slight angle on an ash plinth. An inscription is pyrographed on a ring around the centre. An orienteering compass is attached to the centre.
A couple of months ago a lady called Helen asked me for five mice to go on a wedding cheesecake. She very kindly sent me a picture of the wedding cake, made from rounds of cheese, with the little mice in place.
Cheese cakes as an alternative to iced fruit cakes seem to have become quite popular recently. The mice will be having plenty to nibble!
Two more money boxes made from spalted beech. Slightly different profiles but the same height, the right being more barrel shaped which the slightly wider original blank allowed.
The boxes were made for two newly arrived babies, Jessica and Rose May. Their names have been pyrographed around the centre of the boxes.
An article about me and my work appeared in Woodturning magazine this month - that is, the Winter 2015 edition, Issue number 287 (not the December edition). There is a regular feature in this magazine called In the Workshop with ... and this month they look at my workshop, and feature some of the items I produce, through a series of interview questions and answers. Read the article ... Read more about Woodturning magazine ...
Two boxes, one ash with a walnut lid, the other turned from a piece of holly. More
Two pot pourri holders in different woods. The one on the left is elm, has a rich tone with some marked grain patterns. The one on the right is made from sycamore, with a creamy even grain, though it does have a burr oak lid with some interesting figuring in it. More ...
Two candle holders turned from slices of a yew log, with moulded beeswax candles. I have done so many of this type of thing now, either for candles or tea lights, that I thought it would be worth setting up a page with some examples on. There is also a new trio of acacia tea lights on the page. More ...
A large bowl turned from an even larger oak burr. The burr was cracked and pitted, but the cracks have been left unfilled to retain the character of the original tree. This is a sister bowl to the one made last year - from another burr on the same tree. More ...
A wall clock made from an unusual piece of burr acacia. Heavily patterned and pitted with cracks and inclusions, the clock perhaps has something of a symbolic representation of the ravages of time?
That said, the wood and the burrs have been stabilised using cyanoacrylate and cellulose sealer, and the whole was then finished with Tripoli wax and carnauba wax. More ...
A war memorial designed to commemorate students and staff of Malton Grammar School who died in service in the two world wars. Designed as a large walll plaque (24" diameter), with a carved poppy at its centre and the old Grammar School badge at its base, it lists all those who gave their lives in the wars. It was unveiled on 6 November, and is now fixed to the old grammar school wall. More ...
A small coinbox made for my nephew's youngest child, Luca. It was made to go with three others that I made a couple of years ago, for his mum, his brother, and his daughter. The wood is goncalo alves (South American) , and there is a 2015 penny attached to the lid to mark Luca's birthday. It is smaller than the moneyboxes that I often make - the 50p in the picture gives an idea of its scale.
Another cricket trophy made to the emerging classic design for this trophy. This one has a burr oak base, with ash wickets and bails, and a padauk ball. Made for Elsted Cricket Club in Surrey. It is interesting making the same trophy a number of times - they are never the same, and each creates its own style based on the nature and dimensions of the base and the wickets.
A classic solitaire puzzle made from oak, with glass marbles. This one, along with two others, was made as a prize for the winners of the 2015 Maths Challenge at Malton School, but obviously a version can be made with or without a dedication around its rim. More...
Much of this month has been taken up with making 45 trophies for Malton School's annual Celebration Evening in November. These two are the George Hanson Geography Award, and the David Lloyd history award. More...
Climbing apple trees for picking is not the easiest or safest pursuit, and waiting for them to drop if you have a hard surface underneath means cuts and bruises (to the apples), so this apple picker is a good find. Made by Wolfcraft, it fits on the end of their extending pole, and is simply a nylon bag with a toothed ring around the top. A twist and the apple is bagged. The pole doubles up with a saw attachment for high level pruning.
The Aspilia Brasilian gold continues to flower and increase in size, its flowers now dangling over the pot far enough to rest on the table. I am guessing the first frost is going to finish it off, unless I take it into the greenhouse and let it continue for a while longer. Getting on for four months now since first planted up. It needs plenty of water, though a couple of times when it has dired up, it comes back to life once given some liquid.
A little updating on the gallery of trees which is on this site, spotted on travels through the year. These two are a 200 year old tulip tree at Dalemain, near Penrith on the edge of the Lake District, and a renovated holly tree in the gardens at Wentworth Castle, near Barnsley. There are many more on the trees pages.
There always seems to be something for all seasons at Newby Hall gardens, near Ripon. Lots of colour still in evidence on our last visit, including two shamelessly brilliant colourful dahlia borders near the restaurant. Also in evidence as cut flowers in the Hall itself, spotted on an interesting guided tour of the house.
Parcevall Hall Gardens near Appletreewick in the Yorkshire Dales is not the easiest of places to visit, tucked away on a hill up a quiet valley. But that is no doubt part of its charm, a beautiful, tranquil place for calm and reflection, away from busy modern life.
This has been a good find this year. Aspilia Brasilian gold, sold as a patio plant or hanging basket plant. I bought four small plants and put them in a 12 inch pot and they have bushed out and flowered for a couple of months now. Still going strong..
A new roof and turned roof boss for a twenty year old pergola. This is the underside of the acorn finial pictured in the woodturning section. The two pastimes occassionally merge. A few detals of the original building plus this year's renovation project are on the site. More.
The patio garden at Threave in Dumfries and Galloway. A National Trust for Scotland training garden, it has different areas showcasing different types of garden design. A brilliant place for picking up ideas that might fit in your own garden.
A delightful visit to Helmsley Walled Garden, on a sunny day when the massed colours were at their best. We visited this garden when Alison Ticehurst first started the renovation project in 1994, and have seen it mature into the brilliant garden it is today. We will be back!
The Mirehouse is a beautiful light-filled country manor house near the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake. Frequented by Tennyson and other poets in the past. Today the gardens offer a pleasant walk through woodland, scented ornamental planting in the beehive garden (a rejuvenated walled garden) and other planting around the house.
The deep blue flowers of the Dalemain poppy, photographed on site at the impressive gardens at Dalemain House in the Lake District, near Penrith. Meconopsis grandis Dalemain grow in abundance in a semi-wild area of the gardens, two to three feet high.
Askham Hall near Penrith is now a boutique hotel, but the garden is open to visitors. And what a lovely garden, with meadow, woodland, long terraces, topiary, and a large, working kitchen garden. Providing food for a delightful cafe on site. Developing furhter, with new planting in evidence.
A visit to Lowther Castle near Penrith, where Dan Pearson has designed a garden around and inside the ruined stately home. Also in the woods are the remains of pleasure gardens and Japanese gardens - the outlines have been excavated, but not restored. A work in progress, it will be worth revisiting in a couple of years time
This impressive visitor was found resting on our front door one day. A little internet research on ukMoths.org.uk reveals it was a female muslin moth, diaphora mendica. Apparently the male is a dull brown in comparison. Described as quite common, but it is the first time we have spotted this one in the garden. I hope its caterpillars eat the dock and chickweed that the website mentions, and not our plants.
Columbine, Granny's bonnets, or aquilega. These plants have been with us since we arrived 30 years ago. They self seed around the garden, and come up in a variety of colours ranging from dark purple to white. We let them grow where they want to, occasionally pulling out the odd plant that doesn't fit with its surroundings.
The ferns have been unfurling in their almost primeval way. We have a variety of different types, but sadly I forgot to make a note of what each one was as we planted them. This one has a tall, erect habit and is one of the last to unfurl.
Almost the spring equinox, and a few days of sunshine (though not a lot of warmth otherwise) has brought out the catkins on the corkscrew hazel. This is a shrub for all seasons, with the contorted branches highlighted in winter, the catkins in spirng, the curious leaves in summer, and then the clusters of hazel nuts in autumn. Very popular with the birds as a perch..
I gave a talk to Boston Spa Gardening Society yesterday evening, entitled A Virtual Tour of Yorkshire Gardens, the first time I have given this talk for a few years now. Slides from the talk, plus a map of Yorkshire showing where the gardens are, and brief notes on each, are available in the Garden Talks section.
A carpet of snowdrops covers the ground in the woodland at Burton Agnes Hall, near Driffield. The grounds are open to see this spectacle, although the house remains closed for a few more weeks. The snowdrop coverage is really very extensive, not just a few patches here and there.
Very worrying bare patches have developed on two low growing box hedges in the last two months. I have seen box blight in gardens around the country. Is this it? I have a lot of box topiary in the garden, I hope it is not all going to be attacked. Other bushes are not showing symptoms as yet.
Watching Julia Donaldson's and Axel Sheffler's Stick Man animation over Christmas made me look in the stick basket (I save reasonable sized twiggy clippings to use as kindling). And look who I should find - a friend of Stick Man. To be honest he is actually two sticks glued together, but please don't tell my granddaughters that I have cheated. Having watched the film, I will probably now spend every visit to the stick basket looking for potential stick friends.
I have now completed a new illustrated garden talk about maintaining the garden throughout the year. The first presentation of this talk was today, to Nafferton Gardening Club. There are 143 slides illustrating aspects of gardening, which are available on this site.
A fine specimen tree standing in the front garden of Levens Hall in Cumbria, more famous for its topiary specimens. This tree was flowering in September when we visited, and this is then followed by a show of foot long pencil thick pods, giving it the name Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa bignonioides). More ...
The late flowering sedum spectabile attracted a slightly more unusual visitor this week, although I don't know how common Speckled Wood butterflies are in the north. It was nice to see something a little different in the early autumn sunshine.
Another leylandi felled and tree stump removed. This has allowed more light to the top of the garden, and taken away the competition with the spiral beech topiary. The bed will be dug over, compost added, and planted with herbaceous perrenials next spring. More ...
Hemp agrimony is not the most colourful or impressive plant in the border, but it is very attractive to bees and butterflies so it is forgiven its place in our garden. It does like to seed around everywhere, however, so the heads are cut off just before they go all fluffy and seed bearing.