Monday, November 29, 2010

Catch up with Kew.

This is long overdue, but quite apt since 2011 is set to be the third year that the Seed Walk is to be exhibited at the the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
It was way back in summer 2008 that Kew contacted me to discuss the project, the brief was to design and build 10 seed sculptures of Gigantic proportion to celebrate their 250th anniversary and to mark the millennium seed-banks collection of 10% of the worlds rarest seeds now safely stored at Wakehurst place.
Kew brought a shopping list of potentials and I added mine, the final 10 were selected on their ability to translate and be recognised by the viewer and here they are ..

The first five were installed during march 2009 and then I delivered 1 a month to Kew where I ran workshops to help involve the visitors. This was great for me working within Kew meeting some of the UK's most respected horticulturalists and such an international draw of visitors made for a very exciting residency.
It's such a charming space and a privilege to be on-site at those quite times before the gates open, sun rising, parakeets stretching their wings, squirrels scampering in the bins and staff on bicycles... I spent a lot of summer 2009 in Kew staying local and feel a real connection with the place and people... there are far too many people to mention who made this special and contributed to the Seed Walk, there is no denying that this was an Epic project, weaving with frozen sticks, digging narrow 1.5 meter deep holes, sleeping in the back of the van.
The seeds now firmly planted near the main gate are well established and really have nestled themselves into the landscape .
If you haven't had chance to see them yet, 2011 may be the last year, so, treat yourself to a day at the Gardens!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shaving horse

The shaving horse is a holding device for working wood. I like to think that before the age of the D.I.Y. store most good households would have had one to work timber down to size.
I built a standard H frame horse around 12 years ago when I first discovered greenwood, which is now firewood! This served it's purpose but I never found it that practical having to feed the 'job' (wood) through the 'H' especially if it was a long job.
I've been meaning to make a 'dumbhead' style horse for ages since I had the eye for a Mexican design folding chair that would require some serious draw-knife action. The dumbhead is based on a 'T', so you can slide work in from the side and in and out with ease.
Thankfully a little pocket of downtime allowed me to play and here it is! There's still some fine tuning to do, and to add to my shopping list next time I visit the woods I'll be looking out for a bit of bowed ash, this will become the front leg (singular) and the two existing front legs will be 'retired'. Four legs is great on the flat but on uneven ground they're a pest. 3 legs are the future!

The body and components are all made from left over oak grown at Staunton Harold in South Derbyshire (up the road) and the legs are sweet chestnut.
It was all roughed out with a chainsaw first, then fine tuned with hand tools.
I took the opportunity to rattle out duplicate blanks for my mate to so he could build one too.
The head here was an experimental bit of whittling from way back and I thought it may work for this delicate job, it will need an upgrade soon enough to a good heavy one.

Ironically my families business has been in tool holding specifically chuck jaws for lathes dating back to 1946. My Great Grandfather William Morris was in partnership originally with a man called Dunn, hence the name Mordun, their work moved into a computerised era producing work internationally with my father also William at the helm and here's me building possibly one of the very first holding devices in history operated with my foot... fresh from the tree!
Brilliant! I'm sure he'd approve...