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Alaska Memories

2020-02-20 17.58.13 Every wheel I make represents my best attempt to match the spinner’s wishes and fulfill her dreams. it is rare that my own experiences can factor so heavily in the creation of a wheel. Whitney lived in Alaska during many of the years I did and we even might have been near neighbors (by Alaska standards!) She had a cabin on a lake, and about ten miles away we lived near a lake as well. I took a canoe trip on the lakes very near her cabin. So I mined my memories to pull up favorite things. Whitney wanted a moose and northern lights. I felt snow was a good setting so that is how this painting evolved.

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Whitney loved taking her kayak on little voyages of discovery and used it as a fishing platform as well. Here she is with a typical cabin in the distance. She asked for fireweed too. I love fireweed and have painted it countless times.

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A loon was on the list as well. I felt it would be fun to use one as a figurehead and even better to put a chick on her back.  The space was a bit cramped.  I used some of my artistic license but the result I feel is worth it. There is a piece of stained glass below the loon. It is my favorite way to celebrate the feel of water.  You might have noticed the paintings on the treadles. Whitney loved picking low bush cranberries. Even though they are a distant memory for both of us, she can look down at her feet as she spins and remember reaching down and picking these little tasty treasures.

This wheel is not yet finished but it is close. I need to varnish a bit more, add a painting of a cat’s paw print, and of course the scotch tension line. But I felt it was time to share our memories with you. Thanks for looking!

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A Wheel Headed for Germany

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Lydia, a spinner and keeper of Angora goats from Germany, requested a a wheel with no paint but that would celebrate the wood itself.  I used a variety of species and each brought its own color and qualities to the wheel.  One interesting requirement was the need to send the wheel in pieces in order to be under the Post Office size limits.  There are four screws holding the base to the main frame. It should be quite simple for Lydia to assemble it on her end.

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The design of the two big wheels is similar but not identical. I tried to work with the unique patterns of the wood and let each piece dictate its ultimate shape. You can see the integration of natural madrona branches with the more formal pieces of cherry, walnut, and myrtle

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Just one final look at this wheel. I took it out to Fort Worden this blustery January day as I felt the sea behind it is a little foreshadow of its big journey ahead. Enjoy!

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Federalist Period Wheel

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Hi all,  This wheel is for a spinner who can trace her roots to the American Revolution or even farther back. She requested a wheel that would be comfortable at re-enactments or other historical events. I could not just make a wheel like they used two hundred years ago but I did adapt the art to reflect the Federalist Period. The stars on the big wheels speak of the thirteen original colonies. The tall ship represents the bustling harbors and trade. The sculpted eagle and the carved front foot are motifs found on furniture from this period. The wheel is crafted mostly of cherry and sapelle.

20191104_123132This side is reminiscent of landscape paintings of the time. Broad vistas of the new land and a small figure gesturing his pleasure at the view. Hitchcock chairs proved an inspiration and some of the black and gold artwork is a nod to that maker. I will post final photos when everything is done. Just wanted to share the progress so far. Thanks for looking!

Ps…I forgot to mention that there are three holes in the main frame between the treadles that can be used for drop spindle storage. Kind of a clever feature my spinner, Amy, requested!

Farm Tour Report

 

20190921_081850Pretty much since the beginning of my wheel making journey my daughters and I make a yearly visit to Compass Rose Farm, located at Discovery Bay. The farm and fiber tour is the main reason, but we have made so many friends there that we would gladly go back anyway.  Here is a photo of the back of our truck with the new Art Deco Wheel and Screech safely cushioned with blankets for the trip. I think Screech looks pretty happy to be on an adventure.

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The farm is located between Discovery Bay and the Olympic mountains. Even this late in September the lush greens dominate. Apples are hanging from the trees, the gardens have lots of produce ready to harvest, and the geese are on patrol.

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The farmhouse sits on the high ground above the farm. Below it are the garden beds, greenhouses, tool sheds, an orchard, turkeys, ducks, those patrolling geese, and then the pastures with the Icelandic sheep.  I love to wander around and find exciting little surprises at every turn.

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One of my favorite spots is the fire pit by the old cottage.  A great place to sit a spell, tell a story, or just plain sit.  Later in the day this spot had many visitors, each there for their own reasons, but each one adding to the richness of the time.

Sunday was a bit rainy and quieter than Saturday but we all had a great time regardless of the weather. Today we are preparing for next weekend when Amy and I will be going to Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, Oregon.  A vastly larger event and great fun.  If you have never gone and have the chance, I highly recommend it. Screech, Amy and I, along with the good folks from Compass Rose Farm, will be there to welcome you!

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Art Deco Wheel 2.0

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The little Art Deco Wheel attracted a lot of interest and it finally sold to a nice couple from Texas.  Suzanne did request a few changes, which I was happy to do.  She is a cat person and wanted a cat somewhere on the wheel.  After some head scratching and thinking, I settled on a Deco style design of a cat and a ball of yarn, limited to black paint only.  The wheel is now home to a small black panther kitten who is lounging on the lower horizontal frame member. I tried to take a close-up but that little rascal is almost impossible to catch with my camera. It is cute and somewhat hidden, as requested.  I also replaced the large bobbin/flyer set with a narrower set. The new flyer has an Art Deco flare to it too.  I am glad to have made the additions. They took a very nice wheel and made it even better!  Thanks Suzanne and David!

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New Art Deco Wheel

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Actually this is only half new.  In 2015 I made the first Foothills model. It was a Christmas gift for my daughter Amy but she has her faithful old raven wheel and very limited time to spin. So this Foothills has lived a very quiet life. The latest wheels I’ve made have had Amy thinking again. She has some great ideas for a new art wheel. And we have OFFF coming up soon with the need for something for show and tell. So, the first Foothills I ever made has been completely stripped down and re-built into a sassy happy little Art Deco wheel.

20190910_124802The wheel is built of light toned figured maple and cherry.  as I considered options for an art upgrade, I eventually ruled out animals and paintings and decided to stick with the clean graceful lines of the machine itself. Art Deco seemed the perfect direction to take it.  My wife Maxine got into the spirit of the project and offered to let me choose a few of her vintage buttons to add spice to the project. Between the treadles you can see one of her buttons. It really adds a focal point.

20190910_124635This is not the best photo but on the handle is another of Maxine’s treasures. In fact it really set the standard for the rest of the wheel. I had stashed away some square faceted black glass pieces years ago and I used one for the center of each hub and also for the speed changing knob between the big wheels.

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Here is one more photo to show the other side. The wheel needs a few more coats of varnish and some new bobbins but it is just about ready to test. It is for sale if anyone is interested in a fun smaller Olympic wheel.  The price is $1950.  You can call me at 360 488 7910 or email me at olympic.wheelmaker@gmail.com.

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Meet Screech

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The next three spinners on my work list have either not responded or requested a delay. So rather than trying to juggle more spinners I decided to take some components already made and finish this wheel. I have fallen in love with little owls! As research for this wheel I watched a number of videos featuring owls that live with human companions. They are so doggone cute and sweet! Months ago I did the same kind of research regarding donkeys. They are cute and sweet too! It’s a good thing I have family members watching over my impulses or we would have a few more pets. This little owl is actually sculpted life size and set the tone for the rest of the wheel. I gave him a sort of  an inquisitive posture as if hearing or seeing something pretty interesting. I named him (or her) Screech because it is a Screech owl.

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The painting on this side represents a local scene where one just might be lucky enough to spot a little owl. Moonlight nights are so special and the deep blues go handsomely with the tones of the wood. The owl is perched in a madrona tree in this painting and my little Screech is perched on a nice piece of madrona wood as well.  I have used other pieces of this wood on the treadles, footman rods, and a few other places too.

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The scene for this painting is along the walk Maxine and I often take with our dog. Occasionally we spot an owl  and this place seemed just the right  background for another owl painting. Deep woods and lots of green are two of the most difficult things to paint convincingly. I did my best to achieve an accurate impression of the place. One of the ways I use to get a fresh perspective of a painting is to look at it in a mirror. When I applied this test to this painting, it seemed to come alive! I had a sense that somewhere burrowing through all that brush was a squirrel or two. Perhaps a raven in a tree. Or perhaps a bunch of raucous crows have harrassed this little fellow out of his cozy napping place. He appears a bit grumpy blinking in the sun!

20190906_090527Sadly, my family won’t allow me to keep owls so I must find a good home for Screech.This wheel is not quite finished so there is a bit of a window for minor changes or additions if the new owner wishes. If you are interested in purchasing this wheel, please email me at olympic.wheelmaker@gmail.com or call me at (360) 488-7910. Thanks for looking!

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