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Dragons and Something New


This wheel was designed to be a commanding presence in my spinner’s living room, which has a lot of beautiful Chinese furniture.  The color of the wood and the style is made to blend with these pieces.  But that is about where the similarities end.  The wheel has a story book feel to it, as is shown in the painting of the young girl talking to a friendly dragon with a castle way in the distance. The white spots on the front leg of the frame and on the treadle are inlaid mother-of-pearl pieces. In the foreground is a lazy kate with a somewhat abstract dragon design as the base.


The opposite side of the wheel has a painting with our friends enjoying a moment on a tiny island while a river cascades around them.  Can’t help myself – I am a sucker for water!  Resting on the treadle is a small orifice hook made from tagua nut and a turquoise stone.  It is small but I will show you the reason:


Between the treadles is a small wooden box shown here with the lid propped open with a stick.  The spinner requested this and even though it took a lot of work, it is a fun and different feature. The orifice hook is sitting in the box and the design keeps it from rattling around.  This wheel really has a presence.  I will be delivering it to the new spinner sometime soon and hopes she likes it as much as I do!  Now for a little fun, I will show you how I am spending spare time while my glue or paint is drying.


I have been wanting to make shepherd’s crooks for a long time.  I love the shape and history and elegance of these very practical things.  Mine borrow from traditional designs but I have made them in a fashion that suites me better.  I don’t have time to steam bend the wood but I do have a stash of special exotic wood that I haven’t found a use for.  So the handles use these pieces while the staff portion is made from hickory.  Hickory is the best wood I know for staffs and canes.  I have no sheep to herd and protect but I have learned that this design has a couple of great uses for me.  Standing all day at an event like OFFF can be very tiring. These crooks are made to lean on.  Plant the end about six or eight inches out from your feet and lean into it. The top should be right about breast bone height.  Makes a wonderful third leg and takes a lot of stress off your other two feet.  Shepherds no doubt benefited from this while watching their animals all day.  Maxine and I take our lab for a walk in the woods every day.  The crook goes with me and it helps me keep the trail clear of branches that litter it after a windy day.  These crooks are a great way for me to play with wood and they make wonderful gifts.  My daughter and son-in-law both have crooks now to keep them company when they walk their own dogs.  Thanks again for looking and listening.  It is fun to share with you all!






Better Late Than Never!

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I actually finished this wheel weeks ago but then came down with a very long and unpleasant cold and sinus infection.  Work slowed down to a crawl.  Even these blog posts got shuffled off into the “do later” file.  But this was a very fun wheel and the people that commissioned it were able to come and pick it up.  It is always rewarding to meet the spinner in person and help her get to know her new wheel.

Dee wanted a wheel with natural wood forms and art that would go with her wedding ring, which is a Black Hills gold design.  I knew nothing about this style but learned that it originated with a lost gold miner who was so thirsty and exhausted that he eventually fell into a deep sleep. He had a dream about a stream and grapes growing nearby.  When he awakened he walked over a hill and sure enough, there was the stream and wonderful wild grapes! He devoted the rest of his life making jewelry using these motifs that had become so precious to him.  I suspect he made more money from jewelry than from mining!

Dee and her family raise sheep and she sent me photos of many of them. I chose the ones I felt would fit in the design of the wheel.  I also crafted quite a number of Black Hills gold inspired pieces to embellish the wheel. They are made from epoxy and then finished with the three colors of Black Hills gold.

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Here is the other side with some young sheep wandering around together.  I used quite a bit of my madrona stash to give Dee her natural wood.  What is fun is that after we had met and delivered the wheel, Maxine and I, with our new friends, took a walk with our dog on our favorite wooded loop at Fort Worden.  Dee was able to see the exact tree where her wood had come from – after it had fallen during a wind storm.  I think she and her husband Brian enjoyed the walk.  We really enjoyed them.  Thanks for looking!






A Triple Header Tonight!

I have three projects to show you this evening. Two are wheels, and for the first time I was actually able to juggle both projects at the same time. The first one features a pot bellied pig named Harley. He was a beloved house pet and lived with Theresa, who commissioned me to make the wheel.

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Harley is removable for those times he may want to go play in the mud or root under a carpet.  The kitties on this side are two of Theresa’s furry friends. Callie is at the top and Ralphie is at the lower right. Pig tracks on the treadles completes the look.


One unusual feature Theresa requested was a cup holder.  That took some head scratching and engineering but there it is right behind Harley.  And you can lift the cup holder off if Harley wants too take it with him on his frolic.  The kitties on this side are Tyson at the top and Bob at the bottom.  I enjoyed using a graphic design in paint to separate the cats on both sides.  It is an idea I would like to use again.

The second wheel is for Candace, whose main request was four specific birds painted on the wheel.  The extra freedom of expression made me a bit nervous as it is so easy to misread the desires of the spinner. I decided to use natural wood from our local madrona foraging stash.  I felt it went well with birds.


This side of the wheel features a raven calling from the top while a rare white headed duck paddles by on the lower part.  There is a nice graphic painting separating these two neighbors.


This painting features a Mississippi Kite at the top and a lyrebird below.  An unusual pairing, but they seem to be getting along pretty well.  There is a wing shape overlay on each treadle made from madrona.  I think this is a very elegant wheel.

And then came Christmas!  Every year for many many years I have made something for my wife.  As I look around our home I see earlier Christmas presents covering the walls and windows.  This year I produced two small pieces that require very little space. One was a little owl.  And the there is this:

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I know what you are thinking. A bit too long in the shop for the old boy, too many paint fumes, too much time alone with tools.  Maybe you are right but I happened to pick up on something Maxine said in passing.  She located a wonderful pair of earrings she no longer wears because they are big and heavy.  I decided that she should still be able to enjoy them and after all, what better way to display them than on an ostrich!  So I secretly began whittling. Christmas came and went and Maxine only got the owl for Christmas.  A few days ago I casually mentioned my ostrich project and she really got into it!  Today I pretty much finished this critter. I actually took her beloved feather duster and harvested feathers which I glued onto the head of the bird.  Not a job for the timid or sane.  It is a wild and crazy hairdo for sure!  Maxine has spent the last few hours creating a special place for her new friend.  And it makes me happy to pull off something so unusual  as this.  Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years Day too. Anyone else score an ostrich under the tree?





Things Are Looking Up!


Deborah commissioned a wheel with the heavens as the theme so I have been looking up lately.  It’s hard enough to find room for animals and such but the idea of suggesting the majesty of the heavenly bodies and the vastness of space was really a challenge.  This wheel is not finished and unfortunately the resolution of these photos is too low, but I really do like the way things are turning out. The frame is a union of regular hardwood lumber and natural madrona forms. Embedded in the treadles are pieces of laboradorite, designed to echo the feel of meteors.  The painting on this side is a nebula with its gasses and stars. Above the main painting is a view of earth from space. In the center of the hub are little crystals glued in place to resemble the Pleiades.


This side features the Orion nebula in the main painting with another view of earth above.  The stars of the Orion constellation are “crystallized” in the hub.


Along the front part of the handle is a carving representing a comet.  I patterned it after artwork from many many years ago.  A little natural crystalline structure represents the body of the comet.  This view also shows off the front foot crafted from madrona. Most of the painted areas use a generous helping of my wonderful metallic powders and maybe a pinch of stardust too.  This has been a challenging project. I promise better photos when it is finished. Thanks for viewing!




Bug Nouveau Review


This new Foothills size wheel is coming together pretty well, though there is still much work remaining.  It is made mostly from walnut with a bit of cherry and myrtle to add interest.  This side has a painting of barberry branches.  Ellaine requested this as the plant relates to her son’s name, which is Arlo.  I can’t remember the connection, but it is a beautiful plant.  I had never actually looked at one close up.  After I’d started the painting I was sitting in the truck waiting for my wife and there in front of me was a barberry bush!  I sidled up to it and plucked off a branch to take home.  I found out that this plant really does come equipped with big thorns – ouch! The usual hub has been replaced with a more elaborate style to accommodate the silver butterfly at the top.  It was too large to fit anywhere else on this small wheel.


Along the side of the frame facing the spinner I crafted a couple of leaves out of Peruvian walnut.  Another nest for another silver bug.


This painting is of water lilies, specifically night blooming water lilies.  Ellaine’s daughter’s name is honored in this painting. The beautiful dragonfly pin is set in the wood overlay.


Along the front of the wheel are two more bugs and they each are content on their leaves. The color used on the leaves and carved portions are made using my special powders mixed into the varnish.  This allows for the wood to show through the shimmering color.  I love this effect! Now its on the the flyer assembly, flyer, and bobbins.  Also the knobs and caps and testing.  The nice thing about this wheel is that it has a lot of art but is still very light weight.  I’m happy!





Saying Goodbye to the Toucan and Hello to Bugs!


Amy has been busy testing the new wheel as you can see from the bobbin and flyer.  I hated to disrupt her project so tried to make my usual instructional video as you see the wheel.  Not a great idea, but I have confidence Tamara will figure it out in spite of my less than stellar speech. There are stones inlaid into the treadles and I used padouk liberally as well because the color is so much fun.  Mahogany is the main wood and it was a joy to use. Such a cheerful and warm wood!



I have grown quite fond of the crazy little gibnut.  Some spinners like to name my critters.  Tamara will have a big job on this wheel!

And so it is time to get busy on a new project.  Ellaine has requested a wheel that is smaller and lighter and made with an art Nouveau flair.  And she sent me a collection of beautiful silver pins crafted to be insects.  They have enamel work as well as gems  that are her family’s birthstones.   I’m taking the liberty of naming this wheel – “Bug Nouveau!”   Thanks again for looking.





A Celebration of Color!


Tamara’s husband is from Belise and she requested a wheel using elements of the area. I, as usual, began to research all the ideas she offered and was totally blown away with the color and energy of the country!  The main thing she requested was a figurehead carved to be a toucan.  What a great bird!  I built the bill up using a piece of plate aluminum as a core with layers of wood overlaid.  Then my handy dandy epoxy to finish the look.  I had to do some scrambling to locate colors this intense.  This little fellow is quite likeable  and suspect others will think so too.  The other critter living on the wheel  has a more limited appeal but he has grown on me a lot too.  Ever heard of a gibnut?  Well, down on the front leg below the bird is where you can see a gibnut.  It is a large rodent and is considered a delicacy by the hungry people of Belise.  In fact there is a story about feeding the Queen one when she came to visit.  Lucky woman, I guess. Belise has the second largest barrier reef in the world and I painted some of the residents on this wheel.   The color below the surface of the sea  certainly rivals that of the toucan!


The second big wheel has the other thing Belise is known for – the jungle.  And Tamara likes monkeys.  So here we have a couple of spider monkeys.  Originally I had planned on only the one at the top but the other monkey just happened to photo bomb the wheel.  I am glad it showed up.  There are still many elements to add. The treadles are finished and so are the footman rods but they will keep for another post.  I think this is enough to show for today.  Thanks for looking!