Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Industrial Revolution comes to Thrussington.

Making wooden lids by hand, using only basic hand tools has it's pleasures, but can be incredibly time consuming. Wedged between the bicycles and lawnmower in the garage, on a small bench, bits of wood, found, begged and scavenged are fashioned into lids for the coiled boxes that I make. They have become bigger of late and more varied and with them the need to make ever more interesting versions.
Using reclaimed timber, the kind of stuff others discard, involves more cutting, sanding and cleaning than using bought in pristine planks, but often the grain and colour of the reclaimed wood is more interesting and using pieces with knots, splits and bits of bark still attached sparks ideas. It makes each box unique and individual and far different from those made by machine. It has been surprising how much interest these little boxes generate and at times keeping pace with demand has been a challenge.

These latest boxes are over two months in their gestation, forming clay, glazing, firing and carving the lids. I posted pictures of them on my Facebook page to show my friends what I had been up to over the winter months. Only me and Maud had witnessed their progress in the months before, within an hour four hundred had viewed the images of the finished boxes.

Now the arrival of the 900x belt and disc sander has changed all that, more complex lids complete with handles, laminated from two or three different woods are finding themselves fitting snuggly onto the ceramic boxes. In turn this has opened up the opportunity to take even more different and interesting directions. Rectangular and square formats were made previously, as these were easier to make just using a saw and files. It had to be pieces of wood with a more regular grain and some of the harder woods just took way too long to shape using sandpaper and a file. Now it's possible that the wood could dictate the shape of the box. There's a couple of bits of an old oak gate post, complete with tenons and pegs waiting for the ceramic box to be made, and there's an elm burr with lots of potential, that only needs slicing up to become another unique and interesting box lid.

It's fine to be a purist, use only old hand tools and keep craft traditions alive, but sometimes the right bit of kit can take away all the drudgery and painstaking removal of unwanted wood. It opens up new channels of thought and makes possible things previously undreamt of ...got to move on as they say, but even Thrussington is not ready for computer controlled technology just yet.

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