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Sweet William and Friends


Here are a few photos of a fun wheel I have been working on for a while.  Sweet William is the donkey on the handle, and some of his friends make up the rest of the art.  Kim wanted stones like some she had seen on an earlier wheel, which you can see in the lower portion of the big wheel painting.  I sculpted a few of the stones and the rest are painted.  The clear epoxy resin poured over this area gives the impression of a shallow stream.  Above the stream are painted some of Kim’s Finn sheep. There is natural madrona wood crafted into the front leg – another thing Kim requested.


Sweet William likes to play tug of war with his big buddy, who happens to be a horse.  I have never painted a horse before. Quite a challenge to get a glossy, muscular look!


Kim has a small flock of chickens and these treadles host two of them.  A good place to put them, I thought.



Not the best photo but here is a portrait of our donkey.  He is removable, partly because those crazy ears make this the tallest wheel I have ever made!  This machine is not quite ready to ship. Gotta make the caps for the top ends of the footman rods and also put the wood screw covers in place.  But first we need to test.  I think it is looking pretty good!






Art Nouveau Wheel Almost Finished!

last dragonfly

I have been busy with two wheels lately and it is time to report in.  I will save the second wheel for another post as it really deserves its own space.  This wheel has been a labor of love and a test bed for a few new ideas.  It does not have an owner yet. If you are interested, please take a look and email me if you would like to own this wheel.  The flyer and bobbin combination needs to be made yet but I will collaborate with the new owner before making those elements.

Nothing you see here is completely finished but many parts are close.  The paintings are about done.  The big wheels took me in a wonderful direction.  I was doodling one evening while my family was watching an old movie with Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn entitled, “How to Steal a Million.”  If you haven’t seen it is is about an art theft.  I was trying to figure out what to put on these wheels.  Suddenly inspiration struck – steal from Claude Monet!  I always admired Impressionism  and this was my chance to “borrow” from the best.  An internet search yielded many images and I focused on his water lilies paintings.  So if these look familiar, they should!  It was a lot of fun and I do believe they go well with the Art Nouveau motifs that abound on the rest of the wheel.


Here is the other side.  It is hard to make out in this photo but I have inlaid quite a number of beautiful glass beads here and there. Also the white spots on the little paintings are actually little faceted sparkly crystals.


This is a view looking down on the large dragonfly. It appears bigger than it really is.  What looks like raindrops on the wings are more crystals and the whole affect just really sparkles when you see the real thing. Also all the paint is metallic and shimmers. The dragonfly lifts off the wheel easily if needed.  Now I can start fine tuning all the elements so that everything seems to flow together.

So, that’s it from this end.  For all you dragonfly spinners out there, this is your chance!  Thanks for looking!





Dragonflies and Donkeys

art nouveau

In the last post I mentioned a new wheel that is in the works.  It is a test bed for a number of new ideas.  So far I am very pleased with the progress.  The treadles and frame are close to finished and I am assembling a little treasure stash of jewels that may find their way into the wheel.  Cold weather has limited my shop time lately and a crazy accident deleted my link of the last blog post with Facebook.  In case you missed it, this wheel will be for sale to someone who likes dragonflies and this style of art.  Please email me if you are interested.

On a lighter note:


Here is Sweet William, the donkey. He is slowly emerging from a block of wood.  Still needs a bit of cosmetic surgery and tender loving care but he does like to be petted!  He has a home on the handle of another new wheel.  I will keep you in the loop as his friends join him on this new wheel.  As always, thanks for looking and for your wonderful support!





Spinner, Baker, and Dragonfly Maker

Here is hoping you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving together.  This festive beginning of the holidays has always been prime time for me to be busy making gifts for family and friends.  This year I made a little baker for my sister-in-law who lives in a remote village in SE Alaska.  She owns and operates a one-woman bakery out of her home.  Since fresh pastries, along with many other time-sensitive commodities are expensive (and rare) in the villages, she has earned a honored position among the people of the town.  Who can pass up a warm fresh cinnamon roll!


This little fellow with his tray of rolls is designed to be a sort of greeter for those who enter the bakery.  Her business is appropriately named Grandma’s Kitchen.  He is made in my typical fashion – epoxy and paint over wood.  The bronze open sign above him was actually a fireplace flue position devise.


I enjoyed giving him a dashing pair of pants. My wife gets a kick out of his rather shapeless butt.  The poor man is forced to wear very large orthopedic shoes, probably too much standing on that bakery floor!  He arrived safely  and we gave her our blessing to open the package early as he might bring even more cheer to the season. And as far as I know he is now employed full time.

On another note I am currently working on two projects.  The first one is a wheel featuring a number of animals. The star and figurehead will be a donkey named Sweet William.  Hopefully I will have photos for you soon.  The other project is a bit different.  I can’t in good conscience try to juggle two spinners at the same time.  Each project and person needs my attention.  There is so much more to it than just making a wheel. I need to send updates, respond to letters, make changes, and whatever else it takes to keep my customer happy.  But while this is going on I get ideas. There are things I would like to try but can’t test on a commission wheel.  I need to play on my own time.  I absolutely love Art Nouveau style woodwork and paintings and jewelry.  So elegant and rich!  So I have designed and begun a new concept wheel in this style featuring a dragonfly theme.  This was and remains a wonderful theme in this style.  My hope is to offer it for sale sometime around Christmas. If anyone out there feels the need for a high end one-of-a-kind big lump in your stocking, please let me know.  If more than one person is interested, I will save the names and sort them by spinners already on my list and all other interested spinners.  I will do a drawing from the first hat first since these spinners have been waiting perhaps months already.  If all my spinners on the list have their own special ideas, I will draw a name from the other hat. I think this is the fairest way to handle it.  As a teaser I plan to incorporate stones, metal, and other sparkly things into this wheel.  I will hold off on making the flyer and bobbins until I know the new owner’s preference.  I will likely have to close the list around the 20th of December.  What do you think?







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!