Workshop Update: April 2021

First, the big news: I will be at Popup Raleigh on Sunday, May 16, selling an array of stools, spoons and spoonlike objects, and a few other small goodies. All my available time this month has gone into preparations: not only making things, but putting together a booth and figuring out the business end of things. To wit: I now own a Square reader. I also own 18 yards of chambray fabric that need to be sewn into table covers. The items on my to-do list keep bifurcating, but as long as they don’t reach period three, I think I’ll be okay.

I have signage, in case I forget who I am:

Among other smallwares, I’ll have carved ash chopsticks with jauntily painted ends. The ash is scrap from chairs and stools

I’ve made a taller version of the carved-edge milking stool that I was going to call a “work stool” but now think it may be too pretty for work. However, it is an excellent height for playing guitar. Should you ever find yourself as Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville, this is the stool you’d want to sit on while serenading Rosina beneath her window in the opening scene. I may call it my troubadour stool. (Should you find yourself as any character in Il Trovatore, however, you’re on your own.) The tapered octagonal legs have a secondary taper towards the foot, the seat is (as before) carved with a drawknife, and the stretchers are octagonal as well; it is 25 inches tall, and the stretchers are 17 and 19 inches below the seat, right where you want to rest your feet while you’re strumming. The finish is pitch black over salem red Old Fashioned Milk Paint, sealed with Tried & True original oil and wax finish.

I’ll have more to say about that stool, and stools more generally, when I get some time at my desk.

Meanwhile, it is spring, and the garden calls. I have limited space, and my preference is for intensive but relatively low-labor arrangements. For example, the herb garden mostly manages itself (here chives, which are perennial, and chervil, which reseeds itself); and I plant the mustard greens thick enough to choke out weeds, cut frequently, and let them keep growing back. This weekend I’ll carve out space in the mustard patch for a few cucumber plants; by the time the cucumbers need the space, the mustard will have bolted and I’ll pull it out.

Happy spring!

Workshop Update: March 2021

With intermittent shop time and a lull between bigger projects, I have been finessing some designs for stools. I have had a thing for stools for a long time; it’s a simple form open to endless variations in which small details have a big impact. A stool is also something I can make relatively quickly and sell for relatively little money (relative to, say, a chest of drawers), so I want to have some designs in the bag.

First was a short, four-legged stool small enough for a toddler to sit on, sturdy enough for an adult to stand on, and pretty enough to set out by the hearth. Because I used the prototype for putting on my socks, I called it my “shoes-and-socks stool.”

The underside of the seat has an arching bevel carved with a drawknife. This version uses some lovely walnut I picked up last spring with white oak legs and a natural oil finish.

Next was a carved-three-legged milking stool with a carved-edge seat. Instead of trying to cut and polish a perfect circle, I draw a perfect circle, saw close to the line, and carve the rest with a drawknife. The jauntily uneven, playfully faceted surface is accentuated by a two-layered milk paint finish, in this case black over red. I call this — wait for it — my carved-edge milking stool.

I also made a four-legged version with stretchers, because I hadn’t made anything with stretchers recently and wanted a bit of practice. While a stool this height does not need stretchers, I’m considering this a prototype for a taller stool suitable for painting or playing guitar.

Meanwhile, in odd hours, I also finished a batch of spreaders and a batch of stir-fry spoons (or, if you are from Louisiana, roux spoons), both in various woods.

All of this is for sale, hopefully at a craft market this spring or summer.