Monday, 16 April 2018

Great Art in East London

If you happen to be visiting the Olympic Park in East London take some time to nip across the river and have a gentle stroll in Hackney Wick.  There are some absolutely outstanding graffiti works of art and they are amazing.  A riot of colour and movement - much better value than Tate Modern and it's FREE! 

Looks to be by different artists and it's certainly most uplifting.  Any building owner who's put a note on their wall to say 'No Graffiti Please' has had their wishes honoured so the artists are using their paints with respect.

This one tickled me, very devilish and those horns, well it seemed to zing.

Jed taking time out for a closer inspection.

And when you've feasted your eyes pop into the Stour Space for a coffee or beer and sit on their decking overlooking the river, absolutely brilliant - what more could I have wanted.  A tip here, if you pay £4 for a coffee it's a bottomless cup so to speak and you can continue to top up for free...

Wednesday, 11 April 2018


So in with a new look...

Have decided to make some changes to the Bodging Style - not the actual workmanship but my approach to marketing my wares.  So out with the hessian cloths, they'll be back for the forest and woodland events, but for the indoor shows I've had a rather fetching piece of blue silk suggested so that's what I went with at the weekend.  It's a great Makers Market held in my old stomping ground in Wanstead on the London fringes of Epping Forest and the organizer really ensures that the folks selling their stuff do actually make it themselves.  So often I've attended 'hand made' events and half the stuff sold is imported from far flung places and although they are often made by hand it's been done using child labour or just cheap labour and I find this most frustrating.

 I'm also taking things specifically for the types of customers I think will turn up - I just get my crystal ball out and have a good guess at who's going to be there!  Last weekend I did take the right stuff although there wasn't the footfall I'd been wanting.  Still I've been thinking outside the box and looking for different venues.  I find it's easy to continue making the same type of things in the same style and it's a tried and tested formula but things need to progress and change.  I've been trying different tools out, experimenting with colour - very exciting and letting my imagination run riot.  So expect to see some completely new designs in the future - if they're not successful I can always use them as firewood!  With any luck I'll be finding out soon as I'll be showing them at the Makers Market at the Stour Space in Hackney Wick in East London on Sunday.  This will be an interesting try out for everything new and it's in an interesting place.  It's just on the edge of the Olympic Park and the river Lee so easy for folks to get to by bicycle via the towpath or cycle routes and loads of buses or trains and there are car parks nearby so all good news - I'll be letting everyone know how the day pans out and of course don't forget to come and introduce yourself and have a great chat about all things woody and anything else we can do to put the world to rights...


Tuesday, 20 March 2018


Vanessa trying out my new toy!  It's an Axminster Evolution respirator and a big financial investment for me.  I'm usually turning green wood so don't get a dust problem - usually it's sap spraying all over the place!  However I've been using far more recycled or re-claimed timber (such as broken chair/table legs, door linings, builders waste et al) on little projects, bottle stoppers and light pulls,  and I've found that this old wood is incredibly dusty even when using a razor edge chisel.

I had a look at the internet and found that the choice of protective masks was from basic to astronaut standard with prices to match.  I tried out several that mates have and was gifted a 'high quality' used one that I completely refurbished and found they all steamed up or had a visor that was a super dust magnet or I just couldn't breathe wearing it!  I read loads of on-line articles bits in magazines and listened to other turners experience. 

I only decided on the Axminster  Evolution after much humming and hawing and pondering - Vanessa asked why I didn't just get on and order something instead of all this procrastination and I explained it was going to cost around £350 + VAT and that I should probably buy some spare filters too and that I thought that was mega expensive.  Her instant response was 'Can you get a spare pair of lungs for less than £400 quid!'  She's an Essex girl and says it how it is.  Next day me and my mate Bill with his brother-in-law Tony (along for the ride and lunch with the lads) drove to High Wycombe and bought one each plus the spares.

It works a treat.  Visor stays clear.  It pumps clean cool air in to breath easily.  It's lightweight and well balanced.  Supplied in a convenient  container with handle so easy to store when not in use.

The wine bottle stoppers above from bottom are: 120 year old oak from my old front door linings.  A mystree wood from a skip.  Silky silver birch from Epping Forest (turned green) - just happened to have it laying around after carving some spatulas.  Another bit of oak door lining.  Each stopper is finished with a box wood bead at the bottom as I think it's the best way to keep the rubber gripper in position and it looks pretty.

The bowl is from some rowan with wonderful heartwood markings that came from Birchanger Woods - not far from Stanstead Airport - I was so surprised when I split this log open as I was expecting interesting grain but nothing quite as excellent as that colouring.  So I'm making a complete range of mountain ash kitchen ware including spoons goblets bowls & platters...
Had some very fast grown ash gifted to me and felt like having fun so here's one in action on the kitchen table...

Thursday, 8 March 2018



I'm always on the lookout for new timber sources and you never know when they'll turn up.  I got home the other day to find someone had left me with some good lengths of sycamore - very nice and thank you to whoever it was.  I've just had an offer of some laburnum which is very welcome and it's coming all the way from the Borders down to Essex at the end of the month.  So you'll gather from this that I usually get my wood for free. 
So onto the details of the most expensive log.  Now I didn't actually see this most expensive log for myself but my wife did.  She's very sharp on the profit margins and is excellent at adding value to bits of stick so she can spot a bargain at fifty paces and smell out a scam from fifty miles.  She took this pic of said expensive log whilst in France with her sister at the end of February in the picturesque town of Lesneven in Brittany.  I've been there in the past and it's full of interesting shops & nooks & crannies and the French equivalent of county ladies who like to lunch.  The photo is slightly odd due to multiple mirrors giving odd reflections but you can see it's only about 16inches high & 8inch diameter with a dinky little 'maker's' label inserted in a handy split and the price is 235 Euros!!!! She did make some purchases in the shop but this one she thought was rip off of the year so far... 
This is an interesting hillside near to Callac called the Valle des Saints and the plan is to have 250 statues by 2025.  There are 150 at the moment and they make a mystical sight in the distance.   All carved by different Masons in Residence on of my favourites is a Green Man Hunter.  All quite breathtaking and I can't quite believe how much the hillside has changed since I was last there.  I'm very interested in stone carving even though it's some years since I last traded in the tools of the stone carver.  They always look at first glance to be similar to those of a woodworker but are quite different.  Perhaps one day I'll get to speak with them as they work their sparkling granite and watch them work their magic on this stunning local stone...

Saturday, 13 January 2018


A  great painting of how hard life for a woodland worker could be.  It's by Carl Larsson (1853-1919) and titled Woodcutters in the Forest.  It arrived in the post in the first week of January on a morning with snow goose feathers blowing in the wind and brought to mind how often I've been working in freezing cold weather harvesting the crop that warms you twice!  Very poetic placing of the logs and I'm sure they must have a fire with a kettle on the go somewhere.  Made me really appreciate the warm insulated Winter Workshop I have here in Waltham Abbey.  It's only in the last few years that I've become concerned about treating myself with a bit more kindness and being able to work comfortably in a well insulated and brightly lit workshop somehow make winter working far more of a pleasure.
Yesterday I had the first Course of the year -  a One-to-One Introduction to Green Woodwork and it was most satisfying.  We had an excellent day spending the morning at the Pole Lathe using some excellent green Ash left with me in late November which was made into a superb rounders bat, professional sized, with some wonderful rippling in the grain.  The afternoon we spent playing with some fresh Willow I collected from the Abbey Gardens right on the edge of the Cornmill Stream and together with some Cherry from Magdalen Laver they were transformed into some excellent eating and serving spoons.

I'll continue working here in my cosy den until about March, well till the clocks go forward that is and then I'll be back in the Woodland Workshop. 

Monday, 11 December 2017


We've had plenty snow here, about 5 inches - quite a bit for our part of Essex around 3 miles from London and Waltham Abbey has been at a semi standstill!  First time in ages that we've had a serious dusting before Christmas and it has made the whole area feel quite festive. 
Epping Forest has been picturesque if a little gloomy but we were rewarded with a stunning pink sunset. According to the shepherds this is a delight, so with any luck we'll have good weather in the morning.  However the Met Office are saying it's going to be ghastly tomorrow, via Radio London.  I've checked their website, the Met Office that is, and very usefully as it transpires, it tells me there is no data available to forecast the current weather situation due to 'adverse weather conditions' to please 'refresh your browser or try again later' for an up to date report.  Think I'll stick to old wives tales, sea weed, the barometer, a look outside the back door and a full inspection of the pine cone basket for a full and accurate forecast of my own devising.

Turning experiments planned for this week.  My new workshop in Waltham Abbey is a dream place really.  I wasn't that keen on it at the beginning of it's life, it felt a bit awkward with no personality.  This seems to have gradually changed, tools have found their places, the woodpile has evolved and become quite a reasonable tea drinking seat with variable height adjustment according to how much wood I'm turning and the number of cups of tea I'm drinking sitting down!  I'm trying to retain more of the sap wood and bark in the things I'm making.  The trick is to get the bark to stay tightly attached.  Will let you all know how things pan out...

Courses are continuing all through the winter - details in the link on the right...      

Monday, 12 June 2017


When I first started green woodworking over 20 years ago there were very few books available.  I only had Mike Abbott’s Green Woodwork (which used to be called “The Bible” back in the day) and I pored over it long and hard until it fell apart.  I still think it’s his best book.
I next discovered Roy Underhill  - Ray Tabor published his first book Traditional Woodland Crafts - the floodgates opened and I was off! turning my hobby into a career.
The newest addition to the collection is Sean Hellman’s “Shaving Horses, Lap Shaves & other Woodland Vices”. 

Drawing on his long and distinguished career Sean has put together an excellent book which I would have killed for when I first started.  Very well written and covering every aspect of Shavehorse design and manufacture I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in Woodland Craft, Green Woodwork, Rustic woodwork and workholding in general.
My favourite is the “Easy Rider” which looks really cool but I may be tempted to make myself a Spoon Horse now that the fingers are finding it harder to hold small things when carving.
I think there’s something here for everyone and it looks good on the bookshelves next to all the other classics…

Get yours while they’re still hot!

Available from:-