Showing posts with label carpentry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label carpentry. Show all posts

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Swimmer by Stephanie Rocknak

This amazing piece was completed by Stephanie Rocknak in 2007. It was carved from a single piece of basswood and is slightly larger than lifesize. It is part of a 3-piece commission, The Triathlete. The other two pieces include The Biker and The Runner.

Each Triathlete piece shows a sense of movement. As Rocknak tells us, "These days, I am not very interested in sculpted figures, or real people, that 'strike a pose.' I am much more intrigued by folks who are on their way to or from somewhere. They seem more genuine to me."

Friday, 4 July 2014

Self Sorting (sorta) Bin

I stumbled across this neat little hardware organiser on Craftster and just had to share. It fascinated me for it's simplicity of construction and the fact that it can be adapted and utilised for other bits 'n' bobs that need organising and separating in the craft world.

This was created by a guy who goes by the name of  Wulf  working as a theatrical prop builder and from Toronto. Although this design is fairly basic to look at you could go to any lengths with the woodwork to make it look fancy.

Friday, 30 May 2014

The Bloodwood Tree

I wonder why it's called a 'Bloodwood' tree ?

Below is a picture of the Bloodwood tree (Pterocarpus angolensis) it is a deciduous, spreading and slightly flat-crowned tree with a high canopy. It reaches about 15 metres in height, has dark bark and is native to southern Africa. Bloodwood is also a name given to a native Australian variety (Corymbia Terminalis) and a genus of plants in the mulberry family (Brosimum Rubescens) native to tropical regions of the Americas and used for decorative woodworking.

Bloodwood tree (Pterocarpus angolensis)
Pterocarpus angolensis is a kind of teak native to southern Africa, known by various names such as Kiaat, Mukwa, and Muninga. It is also called the Bloodwood tree, so named for the tree’s remarkable dark red coloured sap. A chopped trunk or a damaged branch of the tree starts dripping deep red fluid, almost like a severed limb of an animal. The sticky, reddish-brown sap seals the wound to promote healing.

The red sap is used traditionally as a dye and in some areas mixed with animal fat to make a cosmetic for faces and bodies. It is also believed to have magical properties for the curing of problems concerning blood, apparently because of its close resemblance to blood. The tree is also used for treating many medical conditions such as ringworm, stabbing pains, eye problems, malaria, blackwater fever, stomach problems and to increase the supply of breast milk.

The wood makes high-quality furniture, as it can be easily carved, glues and screws well and takes a fine polish. It shrinks very little when drying from the green condition, and this quality, together with its high durability, makes it particularly suitable for boat building, canoes and bathroom floors.
Because of its great value to the indigenous peoples of the central and southern Africa, these trees are being harvested at an unsustainable rate leading to its decline in recent decades.

Watch the video below of the sawing of a Bloodwood tree.


Friday, 23 May 2014

Wooden Floors Outdoors

Being Fashionably Late Has Been Fashionable for Some Time
Wood floors go back to before the turn of the century and were installed outdoors.  Apparently if you were fashionably late to the opera house the sound of horse and carriage on the pavement was audible inside and caused a distraction.
End Grain Wooden Cobblestones. Photo courtesy Giorgio Verdiani.

Knowing that people would always be turning up fashionably late, these cobblestone wood floors were installed to deaden the sound of hoofs and carriages outside the opera thus making a late appearance less noticeable.  So much for a grand entrance.

End Grain Wood Cobblestones in a Running Bond Pattern. Photo courtesy of seoulrider.

The basic theory of Wood Block Flooring is centuries old. The ancients used the end grain of logs as “chopping blocks” because the tough end grain surface could withstand the pounding of hammers without splintering. End Grain blocks were once used out of doors as street pavers. For generations, wood blocks served the needs of city streets in Europe and in the United States, many of which still exist today. Edgar Allen Poe wrote an article in 1845 about street paving in Baltimore: “It is generally admitted, we believe, that as long as they last, the wood block pavements have an advantage over all others. They occasion little noise, they save a great deal of horsepower, pleasant to the hoof, and thus save the health of the horse-as well as some twenty or thirty per cent in the wear and tear of vehicles-and as much more, in time, to all travelers through the increased rapidity of passage to and fro”.

Hexagon End Grain Wood Floors. Photos courtesy of Kara Brugman.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Rosary Bead, Carved in Boxwood

Rosary bead, carved in boxwood Bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild

A rosary bead (sometimes referred to as a 'prayer nut' or 'paternoster bead') is characteristic of the minutely detailed, small-scale boxwood carvings used for private devotion. These types of delicate and complex objects were owned by members of the nobility or wealthy merchant classes in northern Europe, and were highly prized as masterpieces of carving and invention. A complete rosary, bearing the arms of England and probably dating to the first third of the sixteenth century, survives in the collections of the Dukes of Devonshire.

Renaissance jewellery was both decorative and functional. Rosary beads were used as memory aids for saying a series of prayers dedicated to the Virgin Mary. When not in use, they could be worn around the neck or waist. Even very religious people who shunned bodily adornment approved of rosary beads. During the Reformation, the practice fell out of favour in the Protestant countries but it remained popular among Catholics.

This spherical bead from the Waddesdon bequest in the British Museum is carved on the outside with Gothic architectural detail, while the interiors are carved variously with scenes from the Old Testament and the New Testament. This boxwood rosary bead is only 2 5/8 inches (6.7cm) in diameter

The upper half is fitted with two doors, carved on both the inner and outer panels, which open to reveal the Crucifixion, crowded with miniscule figures in high relief. 

The Crucifixion

The lower half is fitted with one door, carved on both sides and opening to reveal a complex scene showing the Bearing of the Cross.

The Annunciation
The Bearing of the Cross

The achievement of these perspectives in both low relief and in high relief attests to the great skill of the craftsman, who probably had to work using a magnifying glass.

The word, ‘rosary’ is derived from the Latin rosarium, meaning a ‘garland of roses’ or ‘rose garden’, and denotes a set of prayer beads or the devotional prayer itself. A rosary provides a physical method of keeping track of the number of prayers said and is used in many religions for this purpose and also for meditation and even to relieve stress.

With kind permission from The British Museum

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Can't See the Tree for the Wood

When British forces captured the Oosttaverne Wood from the Germans during the Battle of Messines in June 1917, they were surprised to find that one of the trees wasn’t a tree at all—it was a steel-and-iron imitation. This camouflaged “tree” had been used by the Germans as an outlook post to spy on the British lines without being detected.

The German “tree” found in Oosttaverne Wood

The British and French also used metal “trees” for observation during World War I. The Germans called the “trees” Baumbeobachter, which literally means “tree observer.” Because the enemy frontlines were watched so closely, any obvious observation methods would be easily spotted. So both sides used Baumbeobachters since they could easily blend into their surroundings.

An Australian-built Baumbeobachter

The Baumbeobachters were hollow steel tubes covered by iron “bark” textured to look like the real thing. The base of the steel tree widened and was buried in the ground to provide support.

The base to a German camouflage tree. This would have been sunk into the ground to provide support for the tree and also to allow access unseen by the enemy.

Close up of the coating on the steel ‘bark’

The observer would access the top of the observation post by climbing inside through a small opening close to the ground then ascending a narrow ladder, not much wider than a man’s boot. The rungs of the ladder were not very far apart, as the small circumference of the interior would prevent anyone from taking large steps.

The entrance to a tree, showing initials carved in its interior by an observer, January 1918.
A section of the ladder from the tree, compared to the size of a man\'s foot.

Once the observer climbed the ladder, he would sit on a small seat attached to the side of the tube. The seat was lower than the sight holes so any bullets or shrapnel that made it in through those openings wouldn’t directly hit the person inside; instead the observer used a periscope to see out.

Section of steel tube with the small and uncomfortable steel seat.

When an army decided they needed a Baumbeobachter, they would find a real tree in a location where they wanted their observation post. They’d have to choose a place along their frontline that was fairly static to put their Baumbeobachter; otherwise, if the line moved, the post would be useless. Then they’d take a picture of the real tree, and the Baumbeobachter would be made to look exactly like the existing tree. Once the army had the fake tree, they would cut down the real tree at night (sometimes under the cover of artillery fire to hide the sound), then put the Baumbeobachter exactly where the old tree was. That way, when the opposing army looked over in the morning, nothing would rouse their suspicions since everything looked exactly the same.

Putting up a camouflage tree (artwork by GC Leon Underwood, 1919)


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Spirit Nests - Jayson Fann

Have you ever wanted to experience the life of a baby bird? How about curling up in a cosy nest perched high in the air? California-based artist Jayson Fann is giving humans that chance, building gigantic nests out of locally harvested tree branches.

The Big Sur Spirit Garden, founded by Jayson Fann, is an International Arts and Cultural Centre located in the beautiful Big Sur valley between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. 

The nests are made from tree branches that are harvested from local forests. Jayson does this with great respect and care for the trees choosing the branches and carefully cutting them so that the tree is not damaged. He uses mostly Eucalyptus wood, a non-native tree which can often be invasive and crowd out native plants The best branches he gathers from the top of the tree as they are more mature, strong, and have unique spiralling shapes sculpted by wind and time.

After sorting his cuttings by size, he then assembles them in a spiral pattern using the natural flexibility of the wood to lock together the pieces like a basket. He also uses hidden screws for extra strength. Once the nest has reached a certain size, he transports it to its final location, sometimes employing trucks and cranes for his larger pieces. Once on location, he does the final assembly, including weaving it onto a robust base.

This nest required a large quantity of wood and a lot of weaving. It's extremely strong as a result of using thicker branches. You can rent out this nest by the night at the Treebones resort in Big Sur,California.

Source: ht:bigsurspiritg

Friday, 14 March 2014

Making Wooden Kitchen Spoons and Similar Utensils

Wooden Spoons 'Hidden' in Trees

I Came across this interesting excerpt from:  Garden Farm Skills. Gene Longsdon (1985) 
A foraging skill I have yet to perfect myself but thought it was well worth sharing. If readers would like to add their own opinions  and experiences on this article, it would be much appreciated.

"There are only two little secrets to making spoons, ladles, and forks out of wood. The first is that you don’t carve the spoon from a block of wood; rather, you find a branch with a spoon in it.
Nothing mysterious about that advice. A proper spoon or ladle must have a curve in the handle to be designed for easy use — those straight-handled wooden spoons you can buy cheap are almost unusable except to stir with. You might be able to steam bend a straight piece of wood to the proper curve, but that would be hard work. What you dare not do is cut the curve into a piece of wood across the grain. Such a spoon easily breaks. Therefore, when he is cutting firewood or when he is in the woods, a spoon maker keeps a sharp eye out for branches that have a natural curve in them to make the curved handle. It becomes, in fact, great sport to find the spoons in the wood.
Then there’s the second secret. Having once found a proper branch or crotch, never carve your spoon from the very center of it. Again, that would make a very weak spoon. Instead, cut the branch in two along the centre line and carve a spoon in each half where the grain is thick enough, width-wise, to make a strong handle.
Rough out the spoon with a handsaw or, if available, a band saw or table saw. In fact, I do most of the rougher carving on the band saw, cutting away little by little, with my eye on the grain of the wood, which determines the curve of the handle, until the spoon begins to appear. I even roughly shape the bowl on the band saw.
Carve out the rest with a sharp knife and perhaps hollow out the spoon bowl with a chisel or gouge. Because I have a drill press at my disposal, I do most of the finish carving with a rasp bit, especially nice for hollowing out the bowl and rounding the bottom. I level, balance, and thin the spoon down to proper proportion, trusting my eye rather than measuring. I rasp and look, rasp and look, making sure that the drill press is so set that it cannot rasp down through the spoon bowl and out the bottom. I finish up with pocketknife and sandpaper.
Walnut is the best of the good hardwoods for carving because it carves easily despite its hardness. White oak is harder to carve but I like it — especially if it is a branch that is beginning to deteriorate just a little. Unusual markings, and often unusual colors, will show up in the finished piece. But almost any wood will do. A spoon is an easy evening’s work. The ones pictured here took only an hour each to make — once I found a proper piece of wood.


Saturday, 1 March 2014

Giuseppe Penone: The Hidden Life Within

The image below is one I have skipped past many times while surfing for 'woody wonders' but have only just got round to investigating further.

“My artwork shows, with the language of sculpture, the essence of matter and tries to reveal with the work, the hidden life within.”
–Giuseppe Penone

Giuseppe Penone (born April 3, 1947) is an Italian artist. Penone started working professionally in 1968 in the Garessio forest, near where he was born. He is the younger member of the Italian movement named "Arte Povera", Penone's work is concerned with establishing a contact between man and nature.

Guiseppe Penone carves out a young tree within an older tree to reveal its past, showing us what once grew inside so that it may now "live in the present." Inspired by the quiet slowness of growth in the natural world, the artist asks us to take a moment to stop and think about the concept of time and how there's a common vital force in all living things.

Penone has carved out the wood to reveal its past, showing the tree that grew inside so that it may “live” in the present. Rather than imposing a form, the artist — in contrast to the architect of this space — draws out an existing form.

The next image of  Guiseppe working within the space of this massive tree in my mind captures the enormity of the artists devotion to this piece.

Monday, 10 February 2014

River Mirrors by Caryn Moberly

These stunning mirrors by Caryn Moberly can be hung horizontally or vertically and have an amazing fluid feel to them.

Caryn Moberly is a British furniture designer whose designs are recognised for their originality and fun. Many of her designs are inspired by natural shapes.

Pippy Oak River Mirror.    Size 1.3m x 0.70m

Although most of Caryn's designs use burred elm, the example above is of pippy oak. Here is how Caryn describes her mirrors.  “I love my river mirror design because it has all the elements of a real river valley. The shape of the banks is created by the effect of natural elements on the tree, the location of the tree and its history. The knotty burrs represent rock formations. Even the annual rings in the wood represent contour lines on a map.

I like the way they manage to combine a very modern rectangular shape with a wild natural form.

This is a particular favourite of mine from Caryn's collection for the green tinge in the grain.

She has exhibited at a number of prestigious shows and has been selected to exhibit with the British European Design Group. Caryn has an MA in Furniture Design and Technology at Buckinghamshire New University.

Caryn Moberly's web site: