Tuesday, March 13, 2012

And the Rains Came… finally!

This has been a very dry Winter for us around the Monterey Bay and most of California. It’s hard to complain about the sunny, warm weather we’ve had the last couple of months, but with only one small rain-fed reservoir supplying water to 80,000+ people, a couple of years of drought can put a crimp on water use. Thank goodness a week of very wet weather has started.

One thing about nice weather is I can do more work. Not only is my workshop/studio cozy, but any gluing, varnishing, or painting I do, dries quickly. Wet, cold weather slows down the process. (Also, I’m reluctant to head out to my studio when it’s pouring outside.)

So… I’ve been working a lot on my newest medieval furniture project, the Three-legged Chair. This is made from beautiful American sycamore that I got for free. There are over 20 turned 3-legged Chair in process-72pieces that make up this chair, and I completed half of them before I realized I didn’t have enough to finish it. I was able to laminate long narrow scraps to turn four of the smaller back turnings, but I needed larger full pieces for the four long pieces that make up the arm rests.

I looked all over to find 30” to 36” 2” x 2” pieces of American sycamore. I called local hardwood lumber yards. No one had any. (A couple of them didn’t even know what sycamore was!) I finally checked the San Francisco Bay Area, from San Jose up to San Francisco and Oakland. One lumber dealer said they had some, so I drove over to Santa Clara to pick it up. However, when I got there, all they had were planks of European sycamore, which is nothing like American. Wasted trip.

Sycamore-purchased-72Next was to check the internet. Some dealers in the Midwest and East had smaller sycamore turning blocks for bowls and pens, but nothing big enough for me. Just by luck, the second time I “Googled” American Sycamore, a hardwood dealer with an online store showed up that listed just what I needed. A little pricey, but, hey… after getting all the rest for free, I’m still doing ok on costs.

A week after ordering it, it arrived. It’s a full 2” x 2” and 30” long. Three of the pieces are perfect. One has a little checking at one end, but that will be cut off anyway. One of the perfect pieces also has some very lovely spalting. This should look great after I turn it. I now have it prepped and ready to turn.

Drilling jig for circular items-72You might have noticed on the chair that the back pieces are pointing up at an angle. My calculations showed that where the back slats met the top cross member, the angle was around 55 degrees. I drilled the back post by hand, but to drill the cross member, which is much smaller in diameter, I created a padded and adjustable “saddle” jig that I could clamp to my drill press table. Once clamped, I can set the drill press table to the proper angle and drill the top piece at the places where the slats will fit in.

New Lathe chuck1-72Now, that I drilled the holes, I tried to fit the six angled slats in place. Ugh! Too long. I needed to re-chuck the slats in the lathe and re-turn them 1/2” shorter on each end. Unfortunately, I had no way of chucking the narrow dowel-like ends of the slats. To my rescue came a new tool (for me), a dowel collet-chuck system. This allows you to turn items from 3/16” to 3/4” in diameter. This tool is used mostly by pen turners or for working on dowels. My slats fit right in and I was able to correct the lengths.

Contemporary Crafts Market

Once again, the Baulines Craft Guild, of which I’m a Master Member, had a chance to display our Roy Helms Show-72works at the Contemporary Crafts Market, at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason, San Francisco this last weekend. Our area at this show has been generously donated by the head of Contemporary Crafts Market, Roy Helms, for many years. (Thank you Roy!)

I exhibited three pieces this year: the Medieval-style Rush Seat Stool, the Dolgeville Autoharp Model 1, and my Medieval-character Chess Set. This photo shows one end of the Baulines exhibit.

The next photos, close-ups of my chess set at the Contemporary Crafts Market show, were taken by my old friend, Charlie, who’s an avid and excellent photographer. These photos really show the detail in my carvings.

 miscellaneous 043miscellaneous 044

Charlie and I have known each other since 1964. He was the first guy I met when I started junior college in Hollister, California, and we chummed around for the next 15 years or so. We recently reconnected after going our separate ways nearly 30 years ago, and it almost felt like old times again. This photo was taken by my wife (with his camera) in the parking lot at Fort Mason.

Dynamic Duo at Roy Helms-72

That’s it for this post. The wind is blowing, the rain is falling (finally), and I have the heater on in my studio. Time to make some more sawdust.

Onward through the fog!