Wrapping up the first course

Having made all the parts for the chairs on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday had been spent in the sun starting the process of assembly. By the end of Friday the chairs had been fully assembled and oiled. Jo Morton had delivered a load of wych elm bark and I had talked to the group about the other options for seating their chairs. On Saturday (May 4th) Hans and Fransisco went for the wych elm and settled themselves among the anaemonies beneath the emerging cherry blossom to work on their seats.

Hans and Fransisco applying wych elm bark to their chairs, surrounded by spring flowers.
Hans and Fransisco applying wych elm bark to their chairs, surrounded by spring flowers.

James helped Ian weave his seat using kambaa (a plaited palm cord from Tanzania) to match the chair he had made on a course a few years ago.

James helping Ian to finish the kambaa seat on his high lath-back chair
James helping Ian to finish the kambaa seat on his high lath-back chair

Phil decided on another variation of the woven Irish pattern that we have been developing over the last two years, as described in one of my earlier blogs.

Phil's seat with Danish cord in a woven Irish pattern.
Phil’s seat with Danish cord in a woven Irish pattern.

JoJo completed yet another variant of the woven Irish pattern based on Beth’s seat from September 2012, which in turn was inspired by Emma’s woven stool from 2009.

The seat woven by JoJo based on a pattern of Beth's in September 2012, which in turn was based on a stool woven by Emma about 4 years ago
The seat woven by JoJo based on a pattern of Beth’s in September 2012, which in turn was based on a stool woven by Emma about 4 years ago

Aly joined us for the day to replace the seat on a chair she had made a few years ago. When they were all finished, they undertook the obligatory ‘end of course’ pose on the verandah, with the Malvern Hills in the distance, still visible before the leaves emerge.

The produce from the first chair-making course of 2013
The produce from the first chair-making course of 2013

Spring in the Woods

At last! After a mainly cold,wet summer last year followed by the long, cold winter, we started our first course of the year this week.

I think the miserable winter must have put people off the idea of a week in the woods, so we only had four bookings on this course but it gave me the opportunity to train up this year’s assistants. Stephen has returned as the main assistant, having worked with Barn as an assistant in 2009. Johnny, James and JoJo will be taking it in turns to work alongside Stephen in guiding this year’s students through their chair-making courses.

Stephen carefully sighting Hans as he locates where to drill into his chair legs
Stephen carefully sighting Hans as he locates where to drill into his chair legs

Yesterday the sun shone non-stop from the dawn chorus until sunset, so having made all the parts for the chairs during the first two and a half days, we moved some benches onto the field at the edge of the woods to start assembling the chairs.

James helping Ian assemble his side panel
James helping Ian assemble his side panel

We were also able to use the magnificent dining table built last year by Owen, Steve and the other volunteers. As well as using it at lunchtime, it also serves well as a woodwork bench with a view across the valley to the Malvern Hills in the distance.

Hans cutting a mortice while JoJo and Fransisco squeeze together a chair frame
Hans cutting a mortice while JoJo and Fransisco squeeze together a chair frame

By lunchtime our simple solar water heater had warmed 7 gallons of water to just the right temperature for a shower.

Fransisco replacing one of the water containers back into the solar heater after his shower
Fransisco replacing one of the water containers back into the solar heater after his shower

The next two courses are about fully booked but we still have places for the course from June 10th to 15th. After the dry cold March and the showers in late April, I fully expect a blazing June, so book a course place soon and you will hopefully be able to spend a creative week,  basking in the Herefordshire countryside.