Monday, 28 January 2013

The green mantel

Site for the mantel piece

The car couldn`t even reach the forest gate on Saturday, never mind drive through and up into the snowy woods to collect logs for the depleted woodshed. I was disappointed, not least because, the gate being locked, I couldn`t use my special padlock key;the one Neil Craig had entrusted to my keeping;  my key to the forest.
So, on the off chance it was open, I drove instead to the RealWood studios at Ancrum, intending to buy some hardwood for the mantel above the woodburning stove.
My luck was in - they were open. As their blurb says: "Real Wood Studios is a collectively owned workshop, showroom, sawmill and timber merchant, specialising in the creative use of locally sourced native hardwoods in the Scottish Borders." I looked amongst their sale samples like a kid in a sweet shop and, with the assistance of Graeme Murray, chose a couple of pieces of spalted oak.  The whitest oak I`ve seen.
Graeme and I struck up a conversation. He showed me an example of his own craftsmanship: a massive chest built from oak and beech from storm-damaged trees. Beautifully lacquered, waxed and oiled. Finishes are way beyond my knowledge-base, but I need to learn ! 
 Both of us had studied sculpture: he in Edinburgh, me in Aberdeen. I`d wanted to go to the Glasgow school, and he: Dundee ! However Graeme has taken his talent and love for wood to levels way beyond mine.

  Two lovely chunks of dressed Spalted Oak

The lower piece is to be carved

                         I`d like to repeat this floral motif I sketched at Roslin Chapel over twenty years ago

When carving is complete I intend sanding the surfaces and sealing with Danish Oil or similar. When I told Graham Murray I knew of someone who used Crisp n Dry instead of expensive oils or waxes , he showed polite interest: "Hmm, vegetable oil..."

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