Monday 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween

The end of Summertime and the beginning of the cold, dark days of Winter - Happy Halloween.......

Men say that in this midnight hour,
The disembodi├Ęd have power
To wander as it liketh them,
By wizard oak and fairy stream.
~William Motherwell
We've had a lovely week, our French friends came to stay, so there's been lots of laughter, outings and fun here, not to mention the lovely food!
The loaf in the foreground was bought from a French bakery in London, wow it was lovely! We served it with salad, cheese, eggs, fish and pasta - delicieux!
The girls each carved a pumpkin.
We put them on the front doorstep with tealights inside.

Magical! It's been a lovely week.

Thursday 27 October 2011


It's been raining heavily on and off for days now, so much so that yesterday when we were walking back home from the village we were completely soaked through by a passing van, (going too fast as usual). The road was like a fast flowing river, the van created a massive wave that engulfed the pair of us, there was no escape! By the time we got home both of us had to change ALL of our clothes. Will this rain ever stop?

We had a big order of stock arrive on Tuesday, two great big pallets that had to be manhandled from the lorry into the store, luckily the rain did stop briefly while we moved it all, but the ground was soaking wet, we were up to our ankles in puddles. By the time we'd moved the best part of a tonne of stuff we looked like drowned rabbits!

Meanwhile, remember this?

Well it has a new home now and I'm sad to see it go, but you can't keep everything can you? We won't get much chance to create original works over the "dark season" so it'll probably be Spring before I get a chance to start playing with all of the other ideas we have in mind. For now it's back to answering the phone, weaving Wegner Wishbones and putting in new cane panels! I don't like the cold and damp, I just want to hibernate - wake me up when the sun starts shining please!

Do the dark, dark days of the approaching Winter affect your working life? Or is it just me?

Friday 21 October 2011

Hans Wegner's Wishbone or "Y" chairs

"A chair is to have no backside. It should be beautiful from all sides and angles." - Hans Wegner

One of the design icons of the 20th century - Hans Wegner's "Wishbone" chair, first produced in 1949 by Carl Hansen in Denmark is instantly recognisable. Still in production today and now available in a multitude of colours and finishes, the continued demand speaks volumes for this visionary designer's abilities. I wonder, how many of today's designs will not just stand the test of time, but will also be popular and desirable across all age groups in 60+ years time?

We've been very lucky to have restored many of these chairs, inevitably most of the early ones we see have been in the same family from new and have often travelled around the globe with their faithful owners. When you talk to the owners, it quickly becomes obvious that their chairs are old friends that they couldn't bear to lose. Maybe that's why so many are quite happy to have them restored once they are looking tired and neglected - a bit like paying for someone you love to have a full facelift!

They're not the easiest of chairs to restore, (as I've said on this blog in the past!) and I do still wonder whether Mr Wegner ever actually did chair seat weaving because some of his designs really do test even the most experienced weavers full range of skills to the limit. But then nothing worth having is ever easy is it? Sorry for the ramble, but as we are working on 9 of them at the moment I've got loads of time to occurred to me that we could do with a few more Mr Wegners - it would solve a lot of problems, (bear with me!) You see really good design lasts forever. Why change something when you still love looking at it and it functions so well that nothing can beat it? An end to some of our "throwaway" tendencies perhaps? Hmmm.....

So here it is today, in all it's "Former Glory", an early Wishbone chair with it's freshly cleaned frame and a new seat. The next set we're working on were going to have black woven seats, but there are problems with the colourfastness of the new cord. Having discussed the problems with the chairs owners, they decided that they would like to have them home by Christmas, so they too will now be woven in the natural coloured cord. Otherwise they would have to live without them for another couple of months before the new colourfast black cord is available.

See what I mean about loyalty?

"Many foreigners have asked me how we made the Danish style. And I've answered that it...was rather a continuous process of purification, and for me of simplification, to cut down to the simplest possible elements of four legs, a seat and combined top rail and arm rest." - Hans Wegner

Monday 17 October 2011

Some of our customers projects

It's been a busy weekend but all good fun, we had lots of visitors and some precious time out visiting a local market and Poole Quay with our family - the weather was perfect, Poole was shimmering in the late Autumn sunshine. We took a drive around Sandbanks, the famously expensive area of Poole where a sandy promontory stretches out into the beautiful bay. I even managed to find some Dorset "hag" stones on the beach, I have plans for these - have a guess!

But now it's back to the normal working week, lots of Wegner wishbone chairs, I'll post up more about those in the next few days.

We've also been working on our websites and Facebook page, in future I will try and post more regular updates about materials and any special Christmas gifty items we are working on, (yes Christmas is coming....oooh no!) One new page I'm working on will be for customer projects on the Seat Weaving Supplies website. We've been collecting together photos and info about special projects that some of our customers have worked on using our materials. One of those featured will be Mike Abbott's green wood chair making courses. Here's a preview of the work that some of his students have created:

Black Danish cord looks lovely on greenwood chairs! Great work. There will be all sorts of projects on the new webpage,we love to see just how creative people are and to show off their work, I'll let you know when the page is online.

Talking of artistic folk...please take a moment out to look at Wendy's site for her "Handmade Monday" feature that encourages creative people. And while you're there, please read her post and please, if you can, support her in her quest to help sufferers of MS. It's such a cruel and unpredictable disease that I'm sure will have touched most peoples lives in some way at some point.

It makes us appreciate just how lucky we are, enjoy every day folks.

Monday 10 October 2011

Larmer Tree - Bernard DID make it to the ball...!

We got there! Bernard passed his braking test by just 2%, phew....We had decided to risk it, to wait and see whether he passed or not before moving any stock around. Lucky! The mechanic's workshop closed at 5pm and we arrived at 4.45pm, so as it turned out we wouldn't have had enough time to mess about transferring stock from the horsebox to the trailer and car anyway - well at least not without upsetting the mechanics wanting to get home on a Friday evening!

We left for Cranborne Chase Woodfair at 7am on Saturday and were set up in plenty of time for the 10am opening. The weather stayed fairly dry, but oh boy, was it cold! There was entertainment on Saturday night and Sunday dawned bright and warm, so all in all not a bad weekend considering it's October.

Some pictures.

This is the fabulous view. Larmer Tree Gardens are on top of a "dome" which is partly why the weather can be windy and misty here when it is calm and clear lower down. The hay bales in the foreground were a childrens "soft play" area, they loved it, it was full of laughing kids all day long.

Now some of our friends.

Here's Neil Taylor with his fabulous saddle seated chairs. We're in the background.

David Drew with his amazingly neat basketry. I was stunned when he told me that he is mostly self taught! Lovely work.

Here's Owen Jones making his famous oak swill baskets. He's been featured in loads of magazines and TV programmes and is an all round nice man!

And here's a stickmaker with his shepherd's hut. I loved the guard dog!

A real "Woody Weekend".

Friday 7 October 2011

Oooooh dear......

Don't you just love him?

Well it's Friday morning and Bernard is still languishing in the mechanic's workshop. Overall he passed the "plating" test except for his brakes which failed by 1%. The mechanics investigated and found that a recently replaced brake master cylinder seemed to be the problem, it was sticking. Luckily we still had the old one, (some Bedford TK parts are as rare as hen's teeth!) and with a bit of persuasion it worked better than the newer one. That was yesterday afternoon....they have rechecked the braking system but are not convinced that it works all that much better than before. We'll find out..... at 3.30pm today he has a retest, (notice 3.30pm!).

Now what do we we trundle down to the workshop, empty Bernard before his test then pack the car and trailer with everything we need for the show tomorrow, or do we wait and see?? If we pack the trailer and then get a pass certificate, we'll have to unpack and repack it all into the truck again, but if we don't pack the trailer before the test and then get a failure certificate, the workshop will be closing and we won't be able to get our show stuff out of the truck!!

I think at this point it would be easier to go on holiday.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Getting ready for the Woodfair at Larmer Tree.

Today is Wednesday and we will be at the Cranborne Chase Woodfair at Larmer Tree Gardens on Saturday - pretty straightforward stuff you'd think - except as I sit here and type, Bernard the horsebox, a crucial part of our stand display has once again failed his annual "plating" test (MOT). He is currently sitting in a commercial workshop awaiting a retest. Now this may or may not happen by Saturday and he may or may not pass the test ....panic .....noooo!

Meanwhile the show preparations and client work continue. We finished the seat of the "Denims" stool yesterday evening, decided to go mad with mixed media and added in some French style hand wrapped coils of denim blue straw to the rushwork. I'm quite pleased with it, but my other half's jury is out!

Well you've got to admit it's something a bit different!! We've also made a much simpler version without the extra "leg". I've got to own up and say that making this has been fun and a challenge that I've really enjoyed. Persuading a few bent branches to hold together in a frame that can support a seat top is like doing a jigsaw puzzle that has some very oddly shaped pieces and without a photo of the finished thing. was fun!