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Chicken Wheel

March 22, 2013

chicken handle

Two things I need to mention before I launch into this carving.  First, I could never do this blog without my trusty daughter Amy setting up everything and walking me through all the steps.  She is my proofreader as well and co-conspirator in this spinning wheel business.  Thanks, Amy!  Second, I am finding this blog writing fun!  My goal will be to share these little things in a way that is enjoyable for you as well.  Feel free to comment (and criticize) as I value your input.  Now about chickens….

My other daughter Rebekah picked up a bug a year or two ago.  She became fascinated with the idea of raising backyard chickens.  They have proven to be a lot of work and chicken maintenance projects never seem to end, but she gets a lot of pleasure out of this little farm venture as well as quite a few eggs.  In fact I enjoyed a farm-fresh egg for lunch todayRebekah is very interested in fiber art and a die-hard drop-spindler until, after a bit of prodding,  Amy got her to try a spinning wheel.  Drop spindles are great, but we needed her in our camp to help market and demonstrate our own wheels.  She currently has our very first Model A, and while it is beautiful, it isn’t state-of-the-art.  She wants a new one.  Enter the chicken wheel!

Rebekah is the one  who came up with the idea of using a hen’s head for the handle.  She also thought it would be great to have a carved worm on the front foot of the wheel as potential prey for her chicken handle.  We may still do that but as things evolve, there may be another way to tell a story.  I may put a worm in this chicken’s beak and from its wiggling body could hang the needful orifice hook.  For you that aren’t spinners, this is a wire hook with a handle used to pull the yarn through the orifice in the flyer.  The problem is always where to put the orifice hook when you are not using it.  Hence the chicken’s accommodating beak.

This wheel has a long journey ahead before it spins but it could be a lot of fun to build.  The main wheels are already made and they are figured maple.  The hubs are beautiful red padouk and I turned them a couple days ago.  The chicken motif will be used as often as possible.  The adjustment knobs will be padouk with a dome of tagua nut at the end.  Tagua nut, also referred to as vegetable ivory, looks just like ivory when carved and polished.  Hopefully this will remind everyone of eggs!  We even are seriously considering making the pitman rods (the wood pieces that connect the big wheels to the treadles) in the form of chicken legs.  This way the chicken will be running furiously whenever the spinner treadles.  Corny but heck, when you make a chicken wheel, nothing is out of bounds.  Follow chickens around for a while and you get a feel for how they are.

One final thought: we woke up to a gray, cold snowy morning in Port Townsend, but that gloomy start gave way to a beautiful sunny spring afternoon.  I thought it might be appropriate to photograph this chicken out in the green grass, where chickens love to be.  After taking several photos,  I looked up from the view finder, and that crazy carved chicken was staring up at me, just as I saw Rebekah’s chickens stare at me after I had tried to photograph them!  It was uncanny, and a happy moment to see that fierce little stare from what used to be a block of wood.


From → Gary's Thoughts

  1. What can I say. I love your family. You are just so original. At black sheep we should all line up the menagerie of wheels among the animal pens for a photo op. Laurie weinsoft j

  2. Thanks Laurie, you are too kind! I like your idea but to round up all the animals would be quite a chore. As I write this, Duncan Macleod (the ram wheel) is winging his way to New Hampshire and Saphira, the sister to your Cecile, is in Utah. We’ll see how things happen. But Rebekah will have her chicken wheel there, I’m sure. Also I am just beginning a rabbit wheel for a lady so it may join the party. Have a great day, Gary

  3. Rebekah permalink

    That chicken looks like an Edwina to me :) Chicken people call that look The Stink Eye. Edwina has attitude! Really looking forward to giving her a spin :)

    • As I proceed with the construction, this new name will help. Somehow just going to work on the chicken wheel seems a lot more mundane that going out to work on Edwina!

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