Thursday, 29 November 2012

Beginning Wood Carving

I thought it was about time to do another blog, as it has been a long time since the last one, so here it is:

In August we received a magazine from Truro College advertising part-time courses. As there are many things I have wanted to try for a long time, I had a look through it. In the end I had to decide between Pottery for beginners or Wood carving & sculpting. I went for the carving as its a lot less messy, and the class is held in a school just a few minutes drive from where we live.

On the first evening DJ (our tutor) showed us a relief carving of a  Fleur de Lys that he had carved, and told us that our first project was to produce a similar one.

 This is what we were hoping to achieve

We were given a block of wood (Lime) with the outline of the Fleur de Lys stuck on it:

At the end of the first evening this is as far as I had got:

Mine after week one

We had the option of changing the design however we liked. Which gave me a problem, because I don't much like making decisions. I would rather be told exactly what to do.

After week one I decided I wanted mine to be a bit deeper, so in week two I took a lot more wood out:

Once I had chopped out most of the waste wood I was able to begin giving some real shape to the design:

By this stage I had decided how I wanted the finished piece to look.

It didn't always go smoothly. A couple of times a took off more wood than intended. Which gave me a bit of a problem, but DJ called them design opportunities.

I decided I would leave the cut marks on the outside of the leaves, for a bit more definition.

When the basic carving was finished I had to start the sanding:

This was after about 5 hours of sanding

Then another couple of hours sanding and treatment with Danish Oil and a bit of wax, and this is the finished product:

 I was very pleased with the result for my first effort.

Whittling (carving with a knife) is part of the course so I thought I would have a go with my old penknife on a piece of Sycamore which I had been given:

This paper knife was the result.

I got hold a proper whittling knife and made this Wood Spirit, also from Sycamore.

Last Saturday I took part in an introduction to Whittling Course Which . We were given the opportunity to whittle  a Wren from a piece of Jelutong.

This little Jumbo Wren was my attempt:

I didn't carve the little foot statue she is standing on.

I am hoping my whittling skills will improve!!!

I am currently working on a relief carving of a Green Man on an old pine log, but I haven't got far and there are no photos of it yet.

But this is a picture of a Green Man by Master Carver Chris Pye which I am trying to copy:

If I am half as successful as that I will put a picture here eventually.

I am really enjoying Wood Carving. I find it satisfying and therapeutic. So I have just signed up for a second term.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Paul Auster - Winter Journal - My Review

Winter Journal by Paul Auster

Paul Auster is one of the authors that I would call ‘My Favourites’, there are several others: Kazuo Ishiguro, Philip Roth, the late Robertson Davies, Ian McEwan, Magnus Mills, Xiaolo Guo, Maggie O’Farrell and Peter Ackroyd. Whenever there is a new book by any of these authors I ‘have’ to have it. I have read every book by Paul Auster, not for the subject matter, but just because he is the author. When Winter Journal was advertised I pre-ordered it, so that I could have it as soon as it was available. I didn’t know what it was going to be about, but from the title I assumed it would biographical. I was right. An Auster book has never disappointed me and Winter Journal is no exception.

The sleeve notes begin with this: On 3 January, 2011, exactly one month before his sixty-fourth birthday, Paul Auster sat down and wrote the first entry of Winter Journal, his unorthodox, beautifully wrought examination of his own life as seen through the history of his body. That is exactly what it does. Auster takes us through his life by reflecting on things that have effected him; major events, such as deaths of family members, births, marriages, car accidents etc; addresses he has lived at; scars on his body. He writes as if he is writing to himself. He gives an in depth assessment of how all these things have influenced and changed him. It is an honest and no holds barred description of the episodes in his life, and his response to them. He is not afraid to tackle the difficult issues, such as an Aunt who doesn’t hold back from criticising his Mother just a few hours after her death, or the car accident for which he feels responsible and stopped him driving.

This book is a really good read. It caused me reflect on my life and made me think about the many things that have happened during my lifetime. I am just a few months younger than the author. I don’t know if all men of my age could relate to it as I have, but there are lots of similarities in our stories. The only thing I disagree with and could not relate to was the last sentence of the book:

“You have entered the winter of your life.”

I personally, don’t feel that way. I feel as though I am in late summer/early autumn of my life. There’s plenty to do yet.

Winter Journal is an excellent and very well written book, which I would thoroughly recommend. Auster once wrote that the purpose of a book a book is to entertain. It certainly does that. I just hope he keeps writing, because I am already looking forward to the next one.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Evolution of Inanimate Objects - My review.

The Evolution of Inanimate Objects: The Life and Collected Works of Thomas Darwin (1857-1879) by Harry Karlinsky

I don’t usually do book reviews because I can never think of clever things to say. But, I enjoyed this book so much I thought I’d give it a go.

Loved it. I read it over a couple of days, that’s quick for me; it is a short book, and enjoyed every bit.

The Evolution of Inanimate Objects: The Life and Collected Works of Thomas Darwin (1857-1879) by Harry Karlinsky is a novel and does not pretend to be anything else. Thomas Darwin the son of Charles Darwin did not exist. Having said that, the book is so well researched and written that you would think it is biographical.

Thomas is a man who is obsessed with cutlery, he believes that cutlery, and other inanimate objects, evolve of themselves, as with plants and animals. Whilst at University he presents papers on the subject and of course he is well received at first because of his Fathers’ reputation. Soon though people begin to realize he’s a bit bonkers. He ends up dying of Tuberculosis in a Canadian asylum, at the age of twenty-one. 

The research carried out by Karlinsky into the works Darwin and others is phenomenal. The book is an easy read and humorous; it had me laughing out loud, in public, on a couple of occasions.

There are some very good illustrations in the book.

I read it in Kindle on my iPad, but felt I would like to have had a hard copy so that I could ‘feel’ the book and see how it was laid out. The benefit of reading it on iPad is that you can enlarge the illustrations, which you can’t do with a hard copy.

It is one of the best books I have read this year, and I would recommend to anybody. Well done Harry. More please.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Daubuz Moors in my Espadrilles

Our Window Cleaner who is the fount of all knowledge about Truro and Trees told me about Daubuz Moors. He said it was a great place to walk and get out in the countryside, even though it is close to Truro City centre.

I had never heard of it, even though we have been living in Truro for over two years now, and apparently it is only fifteen minutes walk from home.

This morning when I got up I was debating what shoes to wear; as it looked like a nice day and the sun was shining I thought I would wear my Espadrilles without socks. I hadn't intended to go far.

I went for a walk in the town sat in Costa, had a Coffee, and read a book for a bit. Then then Daubuz Moors came to mind so I thought I would try and find it and see what it was like, mainly to see if it was a place that Davina and I could to for a walk on a nice day.

I left Costa and within about five minutes I was in Daubuz Moors. I entered gate and followed the main path; it took me through some trees, under the Viaduct, and past a couple of  open meadows.

The path was getting a bit muddy, but I walked on and came to agate that led back to the road. A lady dog walker told me it was the end of the path. I was a bit disappointed because I expected to see the River Allen, one of the rivers that runs through Truro.

So I sat on a seat just inside the gate and rolled a cigarette; 

The path on the right leads to the river

in the distance I cold see another lady dog walker in the trees at the other side of the meadow. It turned out she was by the river. So I walked down the path, which was not muddy, to the River Allen:

On the way to the river I saw a lady pushing a bike. I asked her if the path by the river was muddy. She said it wasn't as muddy as the main path (she lied):

Boardwalk built by our Window Cleaner and his team

Despite the mud (it wasn't too bad) it was a beautiful walk, the river was gorgeous, so was the Gunnera 

As I walked along, the Viaduct came back into view:

The River Allen runs through Truro, very close to the Cathedral:

I had very lovely walk. I recommend it to everyone. If you live in Truro or visit occasionally, I suggest you find it and try it.

But, if you do wear Wellies, walking boots, or old trainers. Not Espadrilles:

I've washed  them since the walk and they look good again now.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Alice, be gone, the Nether hut is full of Trappists

“Alice, be gone, the Nether hut is full of Trappists”, is what I have called my latest piece of work. It is a Triptych. I have wanted a triptych for years and have thought about making one many times.

What is a Triptych? I can hear you ask. A triptych is a peace of artwork that is in three sections. The sections can be hinged together so that the outer sections can be folded shut, or left open to display the pictures. If you want find out more about what a Triptych is click on the Blue word and it will take you to Wikipedia and you can explore the history of the triptych from there.

Here is “Alice, be gone, the Nether hut is full of Trappists” with the side panels closed:

And here it is open:

I created my triptych by using pictures that I scanned from a book, had them photocopied and the transferred the pictures on to the prepared wood.

Transferring pictures is something I have experimented with for a while and am trying to perfect.  For me the effect is good as it is supposed to look fairly ancient.

I like the centre panel very much but my favourite picture is the one of the ram on the top left had side. That’s an image I really like and would like to do more with it if I was able to get copyright free images. A common image in Cornwall is the Lamb and Flag but I can never find a good enough picture that I can play about with and transfer. So if you know of such an image that is free to use please let me know.

Here are few pictures of the work in progress:

The picture below show a similar coaster to this one, which I cut in half and painted gold

Why “Alice, be gone, the Nether hut is full of Trappists”? The answer is I don’t really know. The phrase just came into my head (weird head!), and it seemed, to me, to fit the picture. Although originally the last word was: ‘Trappers’, but Trappists gave it an older feel, so that is what I went for.

Just as an aside, the word program I use to type these notes doesn’t like the word ‘Trappists’, and wants to replace it with ‘Rapists’. 

Saturday, 19 May 2012

I see a brown chair...

…and I want it painted black.

You may remember, from an earlier post, that I renovated a table and made it into a desk for my computer:

When I was planning the desk I tried to get some high gloss black paint. I couldn’t get what I wanted off the shelf so I had to have it made up, which meant I had to buy a 1 litre tin.

So now everything I paint has to be black (I feel an Henry Ford moment coming on).

When I bought a framed Paul Klee print it looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

I purloined a lovely mirror from some friends who had it stored in a barn. When I got it, it was dusty, dark brown, and in need of some repair. It now looks like this:

And I still had three quarters of a litre of black paint.

Recently I wanted to find a chair that I could use at my desk. I have been using a very nice M&S garden chair since we moved to Truro, but I wanted one that went with the desk.

So I looked around various places and found the perfect chair (perfect once it was painted black) in a charity warehouse.

It need some repair to the seat, and needed reupholstering:

Some people thought I should keep its original colour, but for me it had to be black, with a splash of colour:

I'm really pleased with it, but I haven't sat on it yet, I am waiting for the paint to harden.

So, if you want something painted black, I'm your man!

I still have two thirds of a litre left.