Skip to content

Barn Owls and Friends


We were gone all day but got home just in time to shoot a few quick photos of the new wheel.  No time to tweak but I hope to give you a little Sunday evening entertainment with this new wheel. Ellen lives in the high desert with a lot of animal friends.  She loves the barn owls, all four of them, that keep her company.  Some of her favorite memories are of snowy winter nights with her dog and cat as the owls swooped down to say hello.  When she told me about this a couple years ago I could visualize it and was eager to build this wheel.


Here is a closer view of the left side.  Her great Pyranees dog Shasta and her black cat Raven are looking up as an owl passes silently overhead.  Ellen has a lamp post too and it helps give a touch of warmth to the winter night.   The treadles are painted from a photo Ellen sent of an owl feather resting on some stones and pine needles. The footman rods have more owl paintings taken from her other photos.  The paintings are too blue in these photos.  Imagine a deeper softer color please.


On the right side Ellen requested her harp to be out in the snow and also some rabbits.  I tried to create a story by having the rabbits timidly considering the stranger in the snow.  Ellen thought she noticed a deer in the shadows of my painting  but I hadn’t painted one.  But with a little coaxing the shy creature has emerged just enough to be noticed.


Here is one final look at the wheel. I incorporated as much natural wood into the wheel as I could. I hope you enjoy this wheel. It was a true pleasure to make and Ellen was a joy to work with.  Have a wonderful evening, with or without snow!






A Little Eagle Wheel


Over a year ago I was experimenting with a new model.  The goal was to make a very compact little wheel that was as fast as my largest model.  This required a brand new design for the lower end of the flyer shaft.  I had to find a way to reduce the size of the drive wheel.  Long story made short – it worked!  This little wheel is ready for testing but even I, as a non-spinner, can sense that it is smooth and quiet and has a cheerful and eager disposition.  It is made from sapelle and walnut.  The artwork is a collaboration of my eagle sculpture and my daughter Rebekah’s wood burning.  The wheel is for her and she really wanted to make it personal.  The treadles ended up as a surprise for both of us.  She burned in a feather design and then varnished over the top of that area with a water based poly.  I wanted the richer look of oil base and sanded the varnish off.  But the varnish penetrated the wood more than I realized and the end result is unique effect that is actually much more interesting and attractive than this photo shows.  Kind of a weathered antique look.  In the center of each hub is a subtle depiction of an eaglet.


Here is the other side.  This wheel uses our smaller size bobbin and flyer.  I felt the big set I often build would dwarf the wheel.  This wheel does not have variable speed but you can adjust the orifice height.


A close-up of the eagle.  My original plan was to go with realistic bald eagle colors.  I tried but my worst fears came true. White and yellow are the absolute worst colors to put against these wood tones and it ended up looking more like Donald Duck than a noble and fearsome eagle.  A few glazes over the colors did the trick and I am pleased with the result.

I really wanted to have a new wheel for OFFF this year and we will take the eagle down to Canby for show and tell.  My daughters won’t be able to attend but my wife and I will be there Saturday. If any of you make it to the festival, please stop by and say hi.  It is a great event.  Thanks for looking!




A New Ram Wheel


Donna is a spinner as well as a farmer.  She has quite a variety of animals, including a flock of Shetland sheep.  One ram was (maybe is – I never asked) very special. His name was Jocko. This wheel is based on him.  The colors of the wood were chosen to echo his colorings.  I used walnut and hickory for most of the pieces.  The paintings on the big wheels are views of Donna’s pastures.


ram.leftIn the center of each hub are small paintings of two other rams. This side is of Didley, if I remember correctly.  The other side features Bob.


Between the treadles is a small display featuring a lock of Jocko’s fleece.  The box is made of figured maple which I felt echoed the wavy fleece.  There is glass over the fleece to protect it. Hoof prints are carved into each treadle.


Just another view of the wheel.  Amy is going to be testing it this evening and this weekend we take it to Compass Rose Farm.  we go there every year for Farm Tour and enjoy it so much.  What a great place to introduce this new wheel to Donna! I am looking forward to it.  If you are visiting the Olympic Peninsula this weekend, Farm Tour is a great way to spend a day.  Many other farms are open as well.  Hope to see some of you there!




A Viking Wheel



Amy, the spinner who commissioned this wheel, has taken three trips to Iceland.  She wanted a dramatic wheel featuring all things Viking.  The most prominent feature is the curled carving which is similar to the proud prow of a Viking ship.  Amy’s idea was to feature the contrasting ideas of fire and ice on her.  The painting on this side shows a bay with icebergs against a night sky lit by northern lights.  Odin, the chief god of Norse mythology had two ravens. A raven design is depicted on both paintings. The design of the Icelandic flag is seen in the hub, and the footman rod is patterned after a traditional design for Thor’s hammer.  a lot of the intricate design work is sculpted in epoxy and finished with a silvery gray metal look.


The other side of the wheel shows one of Iceland’s many volcanoes having a rather large moment.  Lightning adds a bit more drama just in case you missed it.  The color in this photo does not show the strength of the painting as well as I would like but it’s the best I could do for today.  The other raven is somehow involved with the volcano too.  The string of fire from his beak is proof of his involvement. In the lower frame on both sides are painted and sculpted depictions of cats.  They are patterned after Amy’s own two cats and are to represent distant ancestors of hers.  Viking ships always had cats aboard to control the rats.


On the top of the frame above the cats and between the treadles is a bronze disc with a Viking design used in navigation. It is held in place by some walnut but can be rotated by your fingers.  Above and below the disc are two sunstones, also used by the Vikings.  The shape of these echoes the shape of basaltic columns found in Iceland.


Just one more photo for your enjoyment.  I like a wheel with drama. This one is made almost exclusively of walnut which is a good dramatic wood against the bright and fairly dark paintings.  The delicate design work in epoxy adds a bit of refinement.  The overall style and shape pleases me and more importantly, Amy loves it!  Thanks again for looking.  By the way,  I found out I have missed some messages sent to me regarding wheels.  I am very bad at finding my way through the intricacies of Facebook and other messaging attempts.  I am likely a lost cause.  If you ever feel the need to reach me please use my email address. it is:



A North Woods Wheel


Angie is a spinner from Minnesota and loves just about all the critters they have up there.  She gave me quite a wish list, with a red fox near the top of it.  My fox is about life size. I purchased glass eyes from a taxidermy source and they really make this guy come alive!  Also I decided to craft a rustic woodsey lodge sort of feel. You can notice lots of natural wood forms in this wheel.


A moose and otters were on the list and, as both are at home in water, I grouped them together on this side.  The honey bee in the center of each hub is to remind Angie of her sister.  The oak leaf on the treadle is because she wanted one.


Here is a close up of the other side’s paintings (taken before I covered the screws and axle end). The cardinals remind Angie of her parents, the cottontails are just another favorite.  The pretty wood overlaying the footman rod is madrona, one of my favorite woods.


This little mouse reminds Angie of her other sister.  Sorry for the bad photo. In this shot it looks like someone is shining a flashlight on it as it tries to hide between the treadles. Actually is much nicer in person and directly beyond the mouse’s nose is a little hole it has apparantly chewed through the frame.  I like this little fellow!

I guess that’s enough photos.  My work is done. I now hand it over to Amy for testing and then it heads off to Minnesota.  Thanks for looking!








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!

black hills 1


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.

black hills 2

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!