Sunday, 24 June 2012


My first time at Woolfest in Cockermouth, Cumbria was very exciting and full of people into wool, sheep, textiles, fibre, felting, spinning, dyeing and colour.. a creative bunch too.

Here I did one of my Weaving with Nature workshops, which was very well received by florists, teachers, children and fibre artists inspired by colour, texture and pattern. 

I also managed to get around the show on the last hour of the weekend, and not spend very much, (thankfully).

In the auction auditorium,
hundreds of pompom sheep
were sitting in a great herd!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Riven Oak Demi Vase - a prototype

Riven Oak Vase prototype by Elizabeth CaddI've been developing my riven oak vase idea, which first started at the Contemporary Coppice workshops with Charlie Whinney in February 2012. Since that workshop, Charlie asked me to make 20 jam jar riven oak vases for his wedding, and this was great practice at riving and developing the general idea.

Riving oak is not an easy thing to do, as it first involves boiling the oak lengths for a period of hours over a fire (or whatever contraption you can devise). My problem was keeping the water vat up to temperature.

To rive the oak very thinly, it needs to be very hot in order to work it - bend it apart into thin strips. As it cools down, it becomes stiff and brittle again. I had very sore hands after two days of riving and weaving, with lots of firewood scraps!

I did an Oak Swill Basket making course with Owen Jones in March 2012 at Bodfari (North Wales). The oak 'tars' used in the baskets are the same material I'm using in the vases. Strips of oak about 3mm thick and up to 4ft in length.

To give you an idea of the skill involved - it took us 3 days to make one basket each.. it takes Owen a matter of hours. His hands are huge, black (stained with tannin) and rough, they look quite similar to oak branches in fact.

There is an enormous amount of manipulating of the riven oak strips, hard on the hands, wrists and general body. Owen Jones's courses are brilliant, and I found it quite intense even being an experienced greenwood worker.

So, this is where the vase idea is up to, the oak is woven around a demi john - I have other glass ideas in mind, but this gives a nice shape and substancial size. I need to work on riving cleaner strips of oak, and making a better boiling set-up. But it's a pleasing development. Let me know what you think!

Original Oak Swill jam jar vase

An indoor silver birch bench

Here is a new bench I've just finished with a silver birch seat and ash legs. Very simple construction, but lots of interesting curves and waves in the legs and seat. A nice burr in the seat edge too.

And let me just gently remind you that commissions are also available!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Sculptural Benches

 Here are the final photos of some very nice outdoor sculptural benches made at Clissett Wood last week (End of May 2012) on which I was assisting in the workshop. I hope my sense of humour didn't upset anyone! Most of the benches are made from Oak and Sweet Chestnut for outdoor use. We were sweating away in the searing heat of the workshop and drinking pints of water to stay cool! Gudrun was in her element with this freeform course, it's one of my favourite courses for the variety of ideas that are tried out.

Ian's oak bench
Dave's oak bench
Peter's oak bench
Shawn's oak and Sweet Chesnut bench