Summer is almost with us and I have just three more courses before taking a break from teaching through most of July and August. I am looking forward to some serious chairmaking myself over those two months. You will see below that I have recently developed a new chair and hope to add a couple more over the summer.
Thanks to everyone that has been on a course this year – you have kept me very busy!
Do come to see me at one of my upcoming shows – details below – and take advantage of free tickets for the Pashley Manor show in East Sussex.
I hope you find plenty of interest to read in this newsletter.
New Course Dates
Course dates through to the end of March 2017 are now on the website at:
If you wish to book a course, please choose a chair, check the dates for a convenient course and check with me for availability. I then ask you to let me have a deposit, at which point I confirm your booking in writing.
Last minute vacancy on Rocking Chair course 13-17 June
One vacancy on the rocking chair course has just become available. If you would like to book on please get in touch as soon as possible and let me have a deposit to secure the place. First come first served!
Contemporary Double Bow Course July 4-8
The contemporary double bow is a generous sized and very comfortable armchair. This is only the second time that I have offered this chair on a course (previously this was an advanced course) and with new simpler techniques, this can be made by all – beginners through to experienced chair makers!
There are currently three places remaining if you are interested in booking a place.
I will be attending two shows over the coming three months and would be delighted to see you at any of them:
West’s Wood Fair 18-19 June 2016
Last run in 2014 this is a gem of a wood show. An idyllic location, up a valley in the South Downs not far from Chichester hosts a wonderful range of wood themed stalls and activities. Well worth a day out!
Sussex Guild at Pashley Manor 27-28 August 2016
(usually £8.90 per adult)
I will have a limited number of free tickets for this show. If you would like one or two please email me with your address and I will post them to you. First come first served!
I have been attending this show now for many years and it is one of my favourites. Although it is at the far end of East Sussex from me, it is well worth the trip. We have a large marquee in front of the manor house and in addition to the show the beautiful gardens with varied sculpture should not be missed. Wonderful food in their restaurant too!
On the Queen’s 90th birthday I completed this chair and due to the remarkable resemblance of the front profile to a crown, I have named it my ‘Crown’ Windsor.
The most distinctive features of this chair are the long steam bent arm and steam -bent splat which gives excellent lumbar support.
The response from those that have already seen and sat in it has been very positive, with the bent splat proving comfortable for sitters of all heights. The chair is generously wide and is designed for relaxing in – say reading the paper – rather than for sitting up to a table.
You can make one yourself on a 5-day course March 13-17, 2017. If you are interested please contact me and I can confirm whether there is a vacancy. If so, I will ask you to let me have a deposit of £275 to secure the booking.
John came here in April 2015 to make the English double bow chair. He was hoping to make a rocker earlier this year, but unfortunately wasn’t well. However it didn’t stop him from making two at home, on his own – fabulous chairs! I particularly like his collection of chisels in the background!
Grow your own chairs
Jim Wells sent me a link to this remarkable operation growing your own chairs. I had heard of something like this, ten or so years ago, but this looks really professional. If I’m quoting to make a chair I usually quote about 12 weeks delivery, but this would require a different timescale altogether!
It is probably nearly 3 years ago now that ash dieback hit the headlines of the national media and there has been no sign of it around here in West Sussex until the last couple of weeks. I have been looking out for the last 3 years and beginning to think that we might escape, but it has arrived with a vengeance.
Just a few weeks ago, as a number of young ash trees coming onto the farm came out in leaf, it became quickly apparent that there was a problem. The trees had seemed 100% healthy in the autumn, but now much of the crown was dead.
The die back seems mainly to affect trees less than 10 years old. However I fear that the prospects are not good for the species around here. I will be building up a stock of wood for all aspects of chairmaking, but it will only last for so long before it becomes infested with beetle.
I am beginning to think about chairmaking after ash, but sincerely hope that there are a good number of years before having to change species.
Great New Book!
Barry Mays ‘The Green Wood Companion’
I’d like to alert you to a new book about trees, wood, green woodworking and associated crafts, chair making and the countryside. This book is unusual. In addition to many wonderful chapters full of fascinating information, there are also lots of lists such as: wood related sayings and their origins; acronyms of the woodland industry; a compendium of terms for tools, woodlands and crafts; and so on… It finishes with a really useful bibliography.
The book is very readable and well worth buying from the author at: http://www.barrymays.co.uk/index.html.
After 12 years of teaching at West Dean College, I have finally stopped running courses there in order to concentrate 100% on teaching at The Windsor Workshop.
I am very grateful to the College as that was where I was introduced to making Windsor chairs, with Jack Hill, 20 years ago. When Jack was stepping down due to ill health (2004) I was asked to run a course there and that was the start of my teaching career….
If you are interested in courses in the arts and crafts (apart from Windsor chairmaking of course!) I can thoroughly recommend it. Have a look at their website:
Taking your chair home with you on the plane!
Already this year, two students have come from abroad by plane and needed to take their chairs home with them. The solution seems to be to wrap the chair very thoroughly in bubble wrap and cling film and to then cover it in ‘FRAGILE’ tape. Using this method, both chairs have arrived safely, one to the US, the other to Israel.
The moral is that if you are thinking of coming for a course from afar, then getting your chair home is not an insurmountable problem!
Hard wax oil on sealed wood
I have been using hard wax oil on some of my chairs for a couple of years now. Although it recommends using it on the bare wood, the other day I tried sealing the wood first with dilute French polish and then rubbing it down with 500 grit paper before the oil. What a great result. I recommend it!