Thursday 28 October 2010

Anniversaries and more close cane work!

Two anniversaries this month, 23 years in this house and a few more than that since we got married!!!!

Everyone thought we were mad to choose October for our wedding, but as it turned out, the day started with a lovely misty morning and brightened up to be a beautiful golden Autumnal day - perfect! So our "boys" got us these....

And we just loved the card....

I WANT those kittens!

Meanwhile work continues. Look at this for a rare thing.

It's an Eisteddfod chair, specially made for the Welsh festival of the Arts that has been in existence since the 12th century. This chair was made for the festival in 1884 and proudly bears a brass plaque on the top rail. I have just started to replace the seat - it's going to take a while I think!

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Word and Wisdom of the Week

Word of the Week


An obsessive zeal for or a compulsion to be constantly at work.


Wisdom of the Week

"By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may get to be the boss and work twelve hours a day" - Robert Frost.


Monday 25 October 2010

And now for something completely different.........

Cane panelling.

You see it all over the place, but mostly in chair seats and bedheads. Well, we had an interesting request last week, it went something like this,

"I have a 1966 American Dodge car and it's got some kind of cane panelling on the door and seat backs, if I send you a picture, can you tell me whether you have it?"

We've seen and worked on cars with centre cane seats like the Fiat Jolly......we've even helped out weaving a chair seat for an antique aircraft and endless canoe seats...... we've supplied plastic cane panelling for the boot of a Bentley, the sides of a horse carriage and the cabins of boats...........but the interior of a Dodge?!!!!

Yes, the interior. It's lovely! Look at all that detail, very special. Now my other half wants to know what the outside of the car look like, (motor head!)

Wednesday 20 October 2010

The new workspace

Week six of the build and the internal finishing is coming on well. After our marathon sanding session at the weekend the plasterboard is ready to paint.

Suddenly the space looks bigger. We need to move in desperately.........look at what once was our dining room.....

This is virtually all restoration work waiting to be done, there's nowhere else to store anything!

Word and Wisdom of the Week

This weeks word:


1. to fill or supply beyond capacity or desire, often arousing weariness
2. to supply to satisfaction or capacity
This weeks wisdom:

"There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full" - Henry Kissinger

 I'm with him on that one!

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Chairs to mend!! The Old Cry of London

Lovely Leanne my blogging friend sent this great bit of text to me about the old chair menders of London, I wanted to share it with you.

"CHAIRS TO MEND!" By Alexander Wainwright

The art of doing small things well has a good illustration in the humble chair-mender of the London streets, who is also one of the most interesting of out-door tradesmen.

He carries all his implements and materials with him. A very much worn chair is thrown over one arm as an advertisement of his occupation, and it is needed, for his cry, "Cha–ir–s to men–n–nd," is uttered in a melancholy and indistinct, though penetrating, tone. Under the other arm he usually has a bundle of cane, split into narrow ribbons. -

Taken from St. Nicholas Magazine for Boys and Girls, Vol. 5, October 1878, No. 12

In Georgian England the "Cries of London" were part of the atmosphere of the City and how the buying public located the services or products that they needed. Nel Gwynne for example was well known as the "darling" of orange sellers and each trade or supplier had their own distinctive cry and regular street routes or "rounds". There is a fascinating article here about Georgian street trade.

What a lovely thought that in some ways we uphold such an old trade, but instead of plying the streets carrying a chair, we can use photographs on the the communication highway - the internet - and blogging is our equivalent of the cry "Cha–ir–s to men–n–nd"!

Sunday 17 October 2010

The builders have finished!

The day has arrived...........the builders have gone and the shell of the building is finished. Now OUR hard work begins. We made the obligatory trip to B&Q yesterday to buy paint, loft ladders, wood etc. finally getting back to base at about 2pm. Then we began the massive job of sanding the walls and ceiling where filler has been used to cover the plasterboard seams and screw holes. Oh wow, after just one hour we looked like snowmen and even after three hours of hard labour, we'd only managed to sand the walls and half of the ceiling! So guess what we'll be doing all day today.........

Meanwhile, a mystery in the garden.

What is this bird? It's never visited the garden before and when it did yesterday, all of the other birds flew around it and chased it off. It reappeared this morning to have another bath in the rockery.

The green woodpecker came back too.

So pretty!

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Word and Wisdom of the Week

Word of the week:


Resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner; unruly, noisy, clamorous, or boisterous: obstreperous children.
Great word, I'll use it more often.

Wisdom of the week:

"All I ask is the chance to prove that money can't make me happy" - Spike Milligan

"Are you going to come quietly, or do I have to use earplugs?" - Spike Milligan

Okay two for the price of one this week, but that's what you always got from Spike!

Sunday 10 October 2010

Autumn has arrived and we nearly have the new workshop

So another week has passed, Autumn is officially upon us and what have we done? Well, the workshop is nearly finished I'm pleased to say and we are very, very happy with it! The Father and son team of builders have worked their socks off in good weather and bad - they have been a delight.

So, now we can't wait to start moving in.........

Look at the great roof lights and storage space!

The ceiling goes in this week along with the new doors. Then we can start the painting process and working out exactly how we can make best use of this new space.

Meanwhile we have finished quite a few "bits". The final colouring of the cane in the five medallion backed dining chairs.....

And the re-rushing of the seat in the "one chair from two", (see the original pair of chairs here)

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Word and Wisdom of the Week

Word of the Week:


extremely attentive to punctilios; strict or exact in the observance of the formalities or amenities of conduct or actions.

Wisdom of the Week:

Nancy Astor: “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.”
Sir Winston Churchill: “If I were your husband I would take it.”


Tuesday 5 October 2010

Create! Episode two...

So......, further around the courtyard. I just loved these:

The stunning wire sculpture of the highly talented Helen Godfrey. Here she is with her chickens:

Just gorgeous! Then something else equally lovely this Green Man water spout:

Hand carved in stone by Annie Jeffery:

Then the wonderful jewellery makers, Min Fletcher-Jones, you can see her work here:

and Liz Guilmant-Cush who was holding a very interesting workshop for glass beadmaking.

Some immensely talented people there who were so free with their time and encouragement to the visitors. It all added up to an inspiring weekend, despite the horrible weather.

Monday 4 October 2010

Create! At Walford Mill Craft Centre

This post is going to be have been warned! I will split it up in smaller bite sizes - here is "episode one".....

To set the scene:

Walford Mill is a complex of lovely old brick buildings set next to the river Allen on the edge of the beautiful town centre of Wimborne with it's 1300 year old Minster and Georgian houses. The mill buildings have been converted into a craft gallery, workshops and bistro cafe arranged around a central courtyard. The old mill leet meanders past the courtyard to the Allen river which is quite shallow and crystal clear as it passes the complex and flows on under an adjacent ancient bridge. The staff who run the Mill are a delight, so friendly and helpful, they organise some amazing exhibitions and events - I had a very enlightening guided tour of their current exhibition of Lois Walpole's recycled basketry works - Fab! Such inspiring work enthusiastically described and beautifully displayed. The Create event has been held annually for the past few years. Local makers are invited to give a demonstration of their skills during the weekend while musicians perform for the visitors.

Saturday was a surprisingly sunny and warm Autumn day considering that it had rained so much on Friday, we were nearly flooded out at home! We arrived early and set up our gazebo under the trees next to the courtyard. Alongside us was Bill Crumbleholme with his Raku pottery kiln, Abbott Street Forge and Peter Moors making greenwood chairs. Further around the yard were Helen Godfrey wire sculptress, Min Fletcher-Jones jewellery maker, Annie Jeffery stone sculptress and Tiggy Rawling with her textile art.

First a little about Bill's Raku pots. He made four firings on Saturday which were met with gasps from the gathered audience. And here's why:

Red hot pots!

Slowly cooling down and showing their glaze colours. From here the pots are put into sawdust in flame proof containers, the sawdust immediately catches fire and removes any oxygen from the glaze. When the flames die down, the pots are removed and cleaned.

The finished article, every one unique and beautiful. Raku is a fascinating process.

Then next was Peter Moors with his green woodworking. He makes all sorts of outdoor furniture, hurdles, turns bowls and whittles some lovely tactile pendants. Here he is working on one of his creations.

Abbott Street Forge work in iron, anything from railings to the most intricate dragons! Look at this character, he's amazing.

They fired up a portable forge and gave demonstrations on Saturday, but sadly it rained too heavily on Sunday to risk lighting it.

More to follow.........

Friday 1 October 2010

Announcing the basket design inspiration prize!!

We're working on creating DIY kits for baskets, so would love to hear your ideas of just what type of basket you would like to see. Would you want practical or decorative, modern or traditional, coloured or natural, textured or smooth, tiny or HUGE........................Whatever! Here's some I made earlier.

Just e-mail me or comment here on the blog with your suggestions and ideas. There will be prizes for the most inspirational suggestions, some Dorset goodies....................

Why not become a follower to keep track of progress