Friday, 3 January 2014

Ancient South African Baobab Tree with Bar Inside

There are eight species of Baobab, the African variety, six in Madagascar and one in Australia. The African variety, Adonsonia Digitata, is the largest and is found in 20 sub Saharan countries. It thrives in dry climes which have low to moderate seasonal rainfall.The Sunland Baobab is one of the most famous baobab trees (and there is something awesome hiding inside of it). It’s located in South Africa in the Limpopo Province and is known for being one of the largest and oldest baobabs.
Carbon dating has been used to estimate the Big Baobab’s age at ± 6000 years. To put this in perspective the tree is possibly older than the Giza Pyramids and was certainly here thousands of years before the birth of Jesus Christ. When the first leaves sprouted the Sahara Desert was still lush and green and our Iron Age ancestors were roaming the land.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

What's Inside this Box ?

When I was first shown this box I didn't think too much of it, what was all the fuss about? 
OK It looks nice, a good quality bit of joinery by the looks of it. But this is no ordinary timber chest. Full information about the maker, plus link can be found at the end of this post.

Gather round, lets take a look inside   :-)

Hmm, intriguing, it seems to be full of wooden slats !

Shaped posts to keep the box's lid vertical.

Time to get unpacking

Every piece has a purpose

The carrying handles are removed to allow the box to extend

Hinged concertina style sides move into position.

Extra battening for strength.

And hey presto .....

A bed in a box !!!

This Box-bed was created and designed by Robert MacPherson to fit a rather strange niche.

Medieval re-enactor MacPherson designed this knockdown bed to be used during his extended trips to Pennsic, an annual event that gathers more than 10,000 re-enactors and medieval enthusiasts for two weeks of life in the Middle Ages. It is typical for campers at the event to construct elaborate campsites, knockdown beds and furniture that are easy to transport.

The majority of the project is made of select pine; the panels are birch plywood. The finish is semi-gloss polyurethane.

The lock and most of the hinges were hand made out of necessity, as the dimensions MacPherson needed were unavailable. He used 16 gauge steel to form each piece, applying a blue-grey oxide finish with a torch and finishing with polyurethane to prevent corrosion.

"I did use screws to make things easier on myself," MacPherson admits. While the use of threaded fasteners wasn't feasible until the late 15th century, he "never intended this to be a pure project. Broadly speaking, this bed-box is to medieval as steampunk is to Victorian."

According to MacPherson, the most difficult and rewarding part of the build was ensuring that all of the unfolding, interlocking, and movable pieces worked in conjunction. "I have pages of notes, sketches, and a 1/6 scale model," exclaims MacPherson. "Most of them represent dead ends, but it's all part and parcel to a prototype."

MacPherson's work resulted in a stowable unit that weighs about 100 pounds and can be brought to a medieval camping event, equipped with a futon mattress and unfolded to become a full-sized bed fit for medieval royalty.


Monday, 9 December 2013

Upside Down Willow Chair by Floris Wubben

When I first saw an image of this chair I was confused, naturally assuming the legs to be seperate from the seat as in a normal chair build and then becoming fascinated the more I learnt.

This chair by Dutch designer Floris Wubben  was made by binding and splinting the branches of a willow tree, forcing them to grow into four legs. 

A seat and backrest were then cut into the trunk and the whole thing inverted.

This chair is made of a (inverted) willow tree. The legs have been obtained by twisting and splinting its branches and letting it dry into the final shape. The seat and back were naturally kept in line with the bole’s silhouette. This project had been put in practice jointly with the artist Bauke Fokkema.

I've seen a lot of willow art from dutch designers recently, with the willow loving water side growing conditions I guess this is no surprise.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

6,000 Year Old Oak Carving

A 6,000-year-old oak timber carved with a concentric oval pattern and zig-zag lines, recently discovered in the Rhondda Valley, Mid Wales, is thought to be among the oldest decorative wood carvings known from Europe.

Found by Heritage Recording Services Wales during the construction of a wind farm near Maerdy, the 1.7m long timber had been preserved in a waterlogged peat deposit, together with 11 other unmarked pieces of wood.
With one end apparently deliberately rounded and the other tapering slightly, the timber has been interpreted as a post, possibly marking a locally significant site or a tribal boundary, or representing a votive offering. Radiocarbon dating has placed it in c.4270-4000 BC, in the late Mesolithic or early Neolithic period.
‘Most finds from this period consist of stone tools, so to have a decorative carving, on wood no less, is very exciting,’ said lead archaeologist Richard Scott Jones. ‘We all put bets on its age, and people suggested Dark Age, Iron Age – but no one imagined it would come back as Mesolithic. We have since shown it to a number of Neolithic and Mesolithic experts, and they say it is a unique discovery.’
He added: ‘This period marks the transition between mobile hunter-gatherer groups and sedentary settlements. The timber was found by a stream edge on a small flat plateau, and if it is a post, it was probably marking something; maybe a sacred site, or a pool, or a nearby hunting ground – there is an ancient lake bed, which could have attracted animals, just a stone’s throw away – or some kind of boundary.’
Similar abstract patterns are known from Neolithic pottery, and from standing stones such as those at the Gavrinis passage grave in Brittany, or, closer to home, at Barclodiad y Gawres, Anglesey, Richard said.
Due to the rarity of such decorations surviving on ancient timbers, however, the team sent the oak timber to experts from the University of Wales Trinity St David, and Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, to confirm that the markings were manmade.
‘We wondered if the lines could have been created by the larvae of oak bark beetles, but after consultation with palaeoentomologists, we are happy that these are not burrowing channels,’ said Richard.
He added: ‘As the timber is about 100 years older than the deposit in which it was found, this may suggest that the oak timber had been brought to the spot deliberately, and perhaps carved on site. If so, then that is a lot of energy to expend, which may indicate that the markings have a special purpose, rather than casual whittling.’
The oak timber is currently undergoing conservation with York Archaeological Trust, where it is expected to remain until 2014.

Friday, 22 November 2013

The World's Longest Wooden Sculpture

A wooden sculpture, featuring the famous painting "Along the River During the Qingming Festival," succeeds in creating a new Guinness World Record - "the world's longest wooden sculpture" - on November 14, 2013.

Chinese artist Zheng Chunhui spent four years creating the sculpture, which is 12.286 meters long, 3.075 meters high and 2.401 meters wide.

It’s no surprise that this incredible work of art is drawing so much attention. It’s amazing, but not just because it’s so big, but also because it’s so incredibly detailed.

Four years in the making, the tree carving is based on a famous painting called “Along the River During the Qingming Festival,” which is a historical holiday reserved to celebrate past ancestors that falls on the 104th day after the winter solstice. 

The original painting, referred to as the 'Chinese Mona Lisa' because of its fame, was completed during the Song Dynasty by artist Zhang Zeduan.It is painted on a hand scroll and was designed to be looked at by slowly unrolling the paper from right to left, an arm's length at a time, like an ancient comic strip.It is considered of huge historical importance as it documents the day-to-day lives of Chinese people, both rich and poor, 900 years ago.
Several later versions were created but with scenes added from the Ming and Qing times, in keeping with the Chinese tradition of contemporary artists reworking ancient masterpieces.
While Chunhui's version will be easy to distinguish for obvious reasons, it doesn't add any scenes from modern-day China.

On November 14th the Guinness World Records arrived in Fuzhou, Fujian Province where the piece is currently on display to declare it the longest continuous wooden sculpture in the world.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Shed of the Year 2013

Fighting fierce competition from over 1,900 creative garden dens, the Boat Roofed shed, owned by Sheddie Alex Holland from Machynlleth in mid Wales, has been crowned the winner of the 2013 Shed of the Year competition sponsored by Cuprinol.

Alex Holland comments: “I am absolutely delighted to have won the 2013 Shed of the Year competition sponsored by Cuprinol. The standard and creativity shown by the other entrants has been incredible so I am genuinely surprised to have reached the top spot! With the £1,000 prize from the sponsors Cuprinol I intend to buy a second hand 400w 12v wind turbine to augment the solar panel to give me enough electricity to make ice in the fridge for gin and tonics, and to ensure the cider and beers are always chilled. I’ll then be able to have a proper party to celebrate with those who have supported me in getting so far.”

The 14ft (4m) by 7ft (2m) structure is already solar powered with a gas cooker, fridge, sink and sound system used for parties. He charted the development of his project on Facebook
Mr Holland acquired the boat from his work at a boatyard and built the shed out of a need for more space.He has said it is full of "nautical nonsense befitting a boat turned upside down" in the Cambrian Mountains.

This year’s winner was selected by a high profile judging panel including Channel 4 property presenter Sarah Beeny, British designer, writer and television presenter Kevin McCloud, Shed of the Year founder Uncle Wilco and 2012 winner John Plumridge.