Carving – it’s real.

On a visit to Ilkley I took a couple of photos in the Manor House museum and the parish church next door. I should have taken my tripod, it was very dark in the church. Old buildings do have smaller windows.  Both these buildings are in the very old centre of Ilkley, in fact the Manor House is built on the site of a Roman fort and incorporates some of its stonework.

It’s good when you can find solid examples of work read about in books.  Here is a joined chair from the Manor House.  Not heavily decorated, and maybe unfinished?  The middle of the ‘flower’ designs on the top rail of the chair back seems vague compared to the other six.  The first initial on the crest rail seems barely more than marked out and the second initial and the ’1′ of the date are rather shallowly defined.

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The turnery and mouldings are bolder and crisper.  I’m going to have to look at this again and take better photos, there looks to be a decent zig-zag or dog tooth design on the front apron below the seat.  The panel in the back looks like it might have been repaired.

What I particularly like about these kind of pieces is the informal way the pattern is set out with no slavish adherence to symmetry.  This is a fairly basic design and execution compared to this beauty at Bolton Priory near to where I work.

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This rather finely executed chair has a high regard for symmetry and those leaves on the panel are beautifully done.  The crest has great power, supported by the scrolled brackets.  It must be almost like wearing a crown sitting there in state.

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This is the only stick of old furniture in the Priory, a little disappointing considering the priory , but The Victorians seem to have had a field day and all the woodwork is modern gothic, very dull to my taste.

Back in Ilkley The Victorians had also ripped out all the family pews, except for one:

Family Watkinson's pew dated 1633

Family Watkinson’s pew dated 1633

I need to go back and get a better picture as the whole thing is a pretty well preserved box pew.  It’s an enclosed pew which looks like this:

ilkley pew

© Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Quick body swerve back to the Manor house and here’s a real example of a table made to be set against the side of a room rather than in the middle.

Wall side:

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SAMSUNG CSCOnly carved where it will be seen, otherwise just a nice bit of moulding. Interesting box there too.  Ah so much to discover and so little time.  I must return (well it’s about 10 minutes walk away!) to my village church where there are some very fine pew fronts (on 19th century working parts), I knew I remembered some good carvings from my choirboy days.

choir deskingKildwick

© Charles Tracey,Evaluating English Pews. www.buildingconservation.com

And what have I been doing?

SAMSUNG CSCTurning pigs’ noses, for Goodness sakes!

 

 

Oak, hazel and blue blue skies.

SAMSUNG CSCInspired by Peter Folansbee’s accomplished oak work, I’ve been working on a joined oak stool, for quite some time now.  In fact so long I doubt whether it would even qualify as green woodworking any longer.  I don’t seem to have photographed the riving of the parts and planing the components, but it feels like ages ago.  I got busy with other paid work and the oak sat there getting drier and drier.

The picture above isn’t oak at all, its sweet chestnut.  Much softer than English oak.  I used it to practise some gouge work, which is all new to me.  I’m following  Mr F’s great book Make a joint stool from a tree. I’ve also drawn some inspiration from photographs of beautiful work in Oak Furniture, the British tradition by Victor Chinnery.  The flower design is taken from a stunning little hung cupboard.

SAMSUNG CSCMost of the flowers have seven petals, except the one centre left through which the key is inserted, and its opposite number on the right, oh yes and the centre bottom one … but not the centre top.  These unexplained details fascinate me and give the work such a life of its own.  As I look at this photograph now, I’m beginning to think there’s some punch work on the petals I hadn’t previously noticed.  I’ve filed a cross-shaped punch to decorate the ground on my stool aprons.

So I began by shooting off the rather stained surface and checking everything was still square.  Marked off the tenons and then laid out the pattern.  I don’t have Peter’s confidence yet so I’m afraid the two foot was rather in evidence to get things in the right place.

SAMSUNG CSCNot easy to see, but basically the width of the moulding, a couple of margins and the three circles for the flowers.

I used an old moulding plane for the edge and then attacked with a suitable gouge.

SAMSUNG CSCArgh!  Why do these photos always make the gouge cuts look inside out?  Makes me feel a little sea sick.  I was careful to follow the advice to make the gouge cuts into the solid, not into the last cut (got that one from The Woodwright’s Shop I can’t quite remember which of PF’s appearances that was).  It’s a bit nerve-racking by this stage as there is quite a bit of time invested in each piece.  Wow, turning the legs was scary after an epic mortising session spread over a couple of weeks.

Setting out the petals was an interesting exercise.  I found a geometrical method set out in By Hand & Eye accompanying animations, but that just seemed far too over the top for my project.  I ended up using the guessing method.  Set the dividers to what you estimate will make sevenths of the scribed circle.  Then divide up the remainder into sevenths by eye and increase/decrease the divider setting accordingly.  This seemed to work out OK.  Then I found a gouge that just about did the job with a little rotation at either end to fill out the space  See how I cunningly made the space between two petals fall at the bottom where that little margin is rather vulnerable.  Looks to me like the craftsman who made the cupberd above just went for it as the attitudes are quite varied, a bit like real flowers are!

Anyway this is what it looks like at the moment.

SAMSUNG CSCNot a patch on the old one, but I have to start somewhere.

Like the coppicing.  I’ve been working there three Winters now and the amount still to be cut is pretty intimidating.

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Today I cut another five stools and an extraction way out.

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Although from this shot I’m still deep in the woods – can you spot my red gloves in there?

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There’s an old dry stone wall as derelict as the coppice running through the wood, and it’s a mixture of limestone and millstone grit, one of the Craven geological faults being nearby.  Here is a nice bit of limestone that people used to like to take home and plonk on their wall tops (no longer allowed!).

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The weather is quite mad here.  We’ve had blue skies now for days. SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC

Took me a while to find some hazel catkins that were not yet overblown.

SAMSUNG CSCAnd any minute now the blackthorn will be in bloom (flowers before leaves, if you please).

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