in 10 days - what an adventure!
My beautiful double bow Windsor chair began its life on the woodpile of Rare Chairs, at Moonan Brook in the Upper Hunter (NSW). It was hand made (by me, with a little help from my friends) using traditional tools and methods that involved no electricity, under the tutelage of Howard Archbold, and in the company of some truly fabulous people with levels of woodworking/tool-wielding experience that ranged from zero (me) to extensive (Karl, Ed and Rusty are builders, Michael's a keen hobbyist, Mark has a machine workshop and Fiona has done some silversmithing). Chairmaking the traditional way, however, sans power tools - was new to all of us except Rusty. The 10 days absolutely flew by - and apart from chairs, great friendships and memories were also made.
Here’s a pictorial and a bit of bush poetry to go with it.
|The Forestry Cottage at Moonan Brook - our home for 10 days|
Fifty five kilometres from Scone in New South Wales
There's a sleepy little valley full of trees
With a woodpile and a workshop where you make a chair by hand,
And it's strictly people-powered if you please!
A hardy group of chairmakers withstood the winter chill
With gloves on hands and beanies on our heads
We brought sleeping bags and pillows and a vast supply of food,
And some booze to stop us freezing in our beds
There was Kiwi Rusty, who had come to make his seventh chair,
There were Ed and Karl, who knew a thing or two
And Michael and Fiona, making Dad and Daughter chairs,
And Mark with his enormous 'Yeeeeaaah!' and Sue.
|Mark on the shave-horse, with his trusty drawknife|
The support troops at the cottage, Marjorie and sleepy Liam
Kept the fires alight and brought us daily treats
And the scent of baking 'Ed-bread' and the nightly Happy Hour
Kept us going, even though dead on our feet
|Guess which lucky chairmaker had a birthday - thanks heaps for the surprise celebration, folks!|
|'Ed-bread', baked fresh daily|
Every morning there was groaning as we nursed our swollen hands,
Aching shoulders, tired feet and creaking bones
And the plaintive cry of Michael - 'I need mothering!' - each night
Rang throughout the valley on our journey home
But the lovely chairs we crafted with our blood and sweat and tears
And the pole-lathe and the adze, the scorp and saw
Will remain long after all the niggly aches and pains have gone
To be precious heirloom chairs forever more
To our host and teacher, Howard, we extend a hearty thanks
Even though he worked our fingers to the boneWe will leave the place far richer than we were when we arrived
At Moonan Brook, just fifty five from Scone.
|The results of more than a day's hard work - robinia wood, shaped by drawknife and destined to become chair legs and arm posts|
|Turning the legs on the pole lathe - great leg exercise - who needs gyms?|
|The scorp - most of us declared this to be our favourite tool, used to sculpt the seat from slabs of deliciously-scented camphor laurel|
|A shy baby echidna who lives under the workshop and who visited us occasionally. Wildlife in the valley includes dingoes, wallabies galore and an abundance of feathered critters.|
|L-R: Windsor chairs by Fiona, Sue, Mark, Michael.|
|Delicious Chairmakers' dinner - a final-night tradition at Rare Chairs|
|Getting ready to take our precious artisan chairs home on Sunday morning. Nobody wanted to say goodbye!|