Sunday 27 March 2011

Wobbly chairs and french polish!

Another afternoon course for the lovely folks from the local U3A group. This time their demonstration "wish list" included how to French polish, how to replace little bits of missing veneer and what to do with wobbly chairs!

We went through the processes needed to turn shellac flakes into polish, how to fill the wood grain and then build up a finish using a polishing rubber. Most people had a go and were surprised at just how much hard work it is building up the endless layers needed to get a deep shine to a piece of wood. Then we talked about animal glue and how to reglue loose joints in a chair........ preferably without having to take it apart too much.

It was fun and the time flew by.

Thursday 24 March 2011

Is weaving cane or rush hard on your hands?

A question we're asked very often - the answer is only if you let it be!

When you are working with either cane or rush the material is damp, so if your skin is sensitive, then you may find that some areas of your hands can become a bit sore. The answer is not to overdo it, do all things in moderation. A hand cream/moisture barrier will help to prevent chapping and friction damage, so it's well worth considering investing in a good brand if you know you have sensitive skin. Gloves are another option, but I find that I can't work with them on and the latex or vinyl types can cause more allergy and sweaty skin problems than they solve. Cotton gloves are good, but of course they will get wet and grubby so are not really an option.

When you are doing rush work, depending on how you put the strain on the cord, you might notice a sore pressure point on the little finger side of your working hand. We know of quite a few full time rush workers who have made themselves a leather half glove/brace with a pad that covers the pressure point - it works well, but as I said before, it's easier to stop working and rest your hands than to carry on regardless and suffer for longer than you need to. Do yourself a favour, take a break, do something different for a while, have a cup of tea!

The most important thing to watch out for if you do a lot of hand work of any description is carpal tunnel syndrome. This is when the tunnel carrying the main nerves to the hand becomes narrow, causes pain and can make the hand "claw" in. It's a condition that is not unique to weaving - any repetitive action like typing or sewing can cause the problem. To avoid putting yourself at risk, try to vary the way that you clasp, pull, place and hold materials - variety is the spice of life! By doing this you will minimise the possibility of causing "clawing" as well as other potential problems like repetitive stress injury and rheumatism. I have found that glucosamine gel helps my hands when they are tired, but that is very much a personal thing.

So, is weaving cane or rush hard on your hands? NO, provided you are sensible and respect your most important tools - your hands.

 My hands - they've served me well! The nails are very useful caning tools.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Word & Wisdom of the Week

Word of the week:


Depressed, troubled; crestfallen.

Wisdom of the week:

When I hear somebody sigh, "Life is hard," I am always tempted to ask, "Compared to what?" - Sydney J. Harris

Now there's a thought.

Saturday 19 March 2011

A quiet weekend?

It has been a hectic few weeks, but today the sun is shining so it's a chance to get out into the garden. Spring must be on its way, these are some bulbs that were planted back in the Autumn.

They're much prettier than I expected, after all, a whole box of various purple flowering bulbs cost me about £2 and that included two or three hyacinths, some tulips and anemones - Amazing, fantastic value, don't you just love purple!

This week we've finished the mammoth task of eight huge Magistretti armchair seats and eight cane panels of various descriptions and I've even managed to re-glue five footstool frames.

There's still a lot to do, but at least more space is starting to emerge in the workshop which is good, because I've got a special job to do for a local craft centre, (more info to follow...) and I'll need a decent sized area to work in, (and make a mess in....).

Wednesday 16 March 2011


As a follow on to the word and wisdom this week.

Such a frightening and devastating set of events for the people of Japan, I feel totally humbled by their quiet strength and determination to overcome the seemingly endless natural and man-made catastrophes they're suffering - would we be so calm and resourceful in the same situation...hmmmm?

My heart goes out to them, I feel impotent and wish there was something that I could do to help. My fervent hope is that if nothing else, the whole world will at least properly reassess how we do things in the future, especially when it comes to how we generate our power - there MUST be another way. We're one World after all.

Word & Wisdom of the Week

This weeks word is:


From the Greek kataklysmos, to 'wash down' (kluzein "wash" and kata "down")

A word being used far to often this week...............

Wisdom of the week:

"There are times when the creations of man can have a more cataclysmic effect than those of nature" - This is a quote by me........made this morning whilst watching the telly.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Word & Wisdom of the Week

Word of the week:


Originated in the "Black Country" dialect found in the area near Birmingham, where 'larrikin' originally meant 'tongue', thus someone who was outspoken. Commonly used in Australia/N. Zealand to describe a person who disregards conventions, a hooligan!

Wisdom of the week:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" - Maya Angelou.


Tuesday 8 March 2011


Another phase - it's all rush at the moment. A set of eight Magistretti drop in rush pads, another William Morris side chair, a bobbin turned corner chair, an oak dining chair, four ladderback chairs.........! My shoulders ache and there are just not enough hours in the day.

The rosewooded chair is finished, so is the big settle, at least we have a bit more room in the workshop.

I can't believe it's March already, the show season is almost upon us and we haven't even started any preparations. Bernard the horsebox has a seized clutch, so for now we can't even move him to the workshop to get all the niggly problems fixed. At the end of last year we had a nightmare time, the fuel gauge, battery charging system and speedometer stopped working virtually at the same time. I had a rant about it here. Well we're no further forward and to compound the problem, Bernard's long serving mechanic, (and the only person we know with a tool to deseize the clutch) is working in the Antarctic as mechanic to the exploration team! We're keeping our fingers crossed that when he visits his family briefly this month, he will be able to find the special clutch tool.....

We also have to restore enough furniture to work on at the show demonstrations because as of today, we have about two footstool frames - that's it! We could definitely do with having 8 days per week.

Thursday 3 March 2011

Variety is the spice of life - antique versus modernism.

Fashion is a fickle thing........Two restoration jobs that arrived yesterday bear it out. Top quality traditional antique furniture still has a place it seems in interior decoration, especially if it is a bit out of the ordinary, pretty, small and useable. But the big change over the last few years has been the longing gaze back to the 60's and all that it represented. Danish modern, Ercol, G Plan were all names I would never have associated with the job that I do - after all, I remember them when they were new and "trendy"! I never thought that one day I would spend as much, (if not more) of my time restoring this modern genre of furniture than the classical antique.

So here are the two items sitting together.

Both have their beauty, but could they sit together in the same space? Personally I don't think so, but in separate rooms of the same home, yes. I like both of these designs, but for very different reasons. The Wegner CH22 is masculine, sinuous - built to last and functional, whereas the stool is so delicate and ornate but just as useful. They both stand out and make a statement in interior design.

And from my point of view? There's a lot of HARD WORK there!

Wednesday 2 March 2011

A photo to go with the word of the week

This photo was one of a few sent to me last week by Willie, a fellow cat lover and blogger.

A pusillanimous puppy! Thank you Willie.

Word & Wisdom of the Week

Word of the week:


Lacking courage or resolution; cowardly; faint-hearted; timid.
Wisdom of the week:
"Some people have so much respect for their superiors they have none left for themselves." - Peter McArthur.