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Memories Wheel

2017-06-18 18.09.07

Jessica’s wheel is coming along just fine.  Still some details to finish up like screw covers and wood caps to cover the upper end of the footman rod axles. It has been a delightful project and I sincerely thank Jessica for sharing her special memories with me.  She has given me permission to share them with you also.  This way you can see how her memory was transformed into a painting:

“I had long golden blonde hair (past my waist) when I was little, with bangs.  My mom put a kerchief on me a lot when we’d go into the woods, so my hair wouldn’t get caught on bushes…..I remember that the berrying cans were just old coffee cans that my grandpa poked holes in and threaded wire handles on, so they looked like paint cans. My particular can was an old brown MJB coffee can, and it was little, like me, maybe 8 or 10 inches tall, and about half the diameter of a normal coffee can…….The butterfly was yellow, not quite buttercup yellow, but not dandelion yellow either…..I think the stump was a foot or so off the ground, but I’m not positive. It’s very hazy.”

Jennifer told me her grandfather saw her, singing to the little butterfly.  What a joy this has been to paint!

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I have apparently (for the second time) been outwitted by my devices and have lost Jessica’s letter regarding her great memories of boating on Priest Lake.  The boat was a Boston Whaler and it was the vessel into freedom and adventure for this young lady.  The boat’s name was DingBat and even though it is a small part of this painting, it is a memory trigger.  The rocks along the shore were placed there by her grandfather, as was the sand.  What a great place to spend summer days!  The biggest rock in the foreground was a special one to Jessica. She was happy to see it in this painting.

A few other details – Jessica sent me some stones she had taken from this place.  I used three of them on the various knobs. She also sent me some tiny acorn caps from her grandfather’s property and I placed them in the nest with the cardinal.  Some of the lighter wood, such as the center of the hubs and the wing shape on the footman rods, are made from tamarack.  She remembers this wood from her childhood, especially as firewood.  She asked if I could incorporate it into the wheel.  I went to my trusty wood supplier – Edensaw- and asked John if they had any tamarack, otherwise known as larch.  Seem its rare in these parts, and John had to think about it for awhile.  Finally on a hunch he went upstairs to the offices and I didn’t see him for a while.  Eventually he descended with a thirty inch board in his hand.  It was larch indeed and had been used to keep the resident cat from using a potted plant for a litter box!  Hopefully they found another board to deter the cat.  I so much appreciate the folks at Edensaw.  They have always treated me and others with respect and are so generous with their time.  And when I finish new wheels I enjoy taking them out to show the staff.  My little way of saying thank you. And thank YOU again for letting me share my new memories of building this wheel.







Priest Lake Wheel Takes Shape

PriestLake wheel

I am deeply involved with this new wheel.  On the white gessoed section of the big wheels will be painted special scenes from Jessica’s childhood.  I will begin these very soon.  But for now the star is this little female cardinal sitting on her nest.  Originally I planned on  having a plucky little bird standing up on the handle but its spindly legs were a concern.  I think the nest is a good idea and since the wheel celebrates the joy and safety Jessica remembers from those cabin days on the lake, somehow it just feels right.  Also a female cardinal’s colors tend to harmonize with this wheel better than the incredibly vibrant red of the males.  Why a cardinal?  I don’t know the answers completely but Jessica wanted one, and one has landed and made itself at home.

One thing different about this wheel from all the others I’ve done lately is the use of oak. Jessica’s maiden name was Oakes, if I remember correctly.  It is a heavy wood with very straightforward grain patterns but it is a pleasure to use.  The accents will be mostly of walnut but there is more to mention when the wheel comes along a bit more. By the way, the nest/bird assembly is removable by simply lifting it off.  I plan to make a separate base for this little vignette when not needed on the wheel itself.

Thanks again for looking.  I appreciate you all!




Iris Wheel Shipped!

Iris wheel2

This wheel began as a way to fill time while the next spinner on my list worked out some details.  I got to play with some new ideas and in the process set myself up with some new problems.  I’m happy to report that everything seemed to work out fine.  The wheel is now in transit to Florida!

I like the play between black limba, maple and walnut.  It created such am appealing effect that the iris paintings had to be kept simple and strong in order to join the fun.

Iris wheel1

The way I integrated the painting on the wheels with the rest of the wheel was to carry just a bit of painting onto the frame. You can see these two areas  from this angle.  It proved to be a great project. Now, on to the next wheel.  It is being crafted for a spinner from Oregon who wants to incorporate memories from her youth. She spent many happy summers with her grandparents in their cabin right on the shore of Priest Lake in Idaho.  As we discussed the design, she shared so many wonderful stories – I felt I was right there!  I can relate as some of my best childhood memories came from the years we spent living on a ranger station on the shore of Seeley Lake in Montana.  We both share a love for fishing and picking huckleberries! I’ll put up photos of this new project as it progresses.  Thanks again for reading these posts – it is a lot of fun to share with you!

The Selkie Finished and Something New


Our selkie wheel is in the testing stages and we will miss it around here.  I’ve grown attached to that little seal. It reminds me of so many seal encounters I’ve had since we live right near the ocean.  These local seals, though, have never given me any hint that they are actually women in seals’ clothing!  Sheilagh wanted more critters as well.  I carved humpback whales out of Peruvian walnut and applied them to the footman rods.  It is hard to see in this photo but I carved a simple walrus design onto the toe end of each treadle. I like the balance of figured maple, cherry, and walnut.  The blue paint really shines against these wood tones.  On another note….


Sometimes I need to wait before I can get going on another commission wheel.  Sometimes the spinner is deep in thought resolving design  issues and sometimes I need to wait for wood to dry enough to use.  Sometimes its something else.  Rather than twiddle my thumbs, I decided this time to start a project wheel using some ideas I have never tried before.  This frame really plays up contrasting woods and the abundance of laminations allows for a lot of strength without quite as much bulk.  The wood is walnut and light hard eastern maple.  The big wheels will be made out of black limba, which is a wood I have never used before. It looks a bit like myrtle but is lighter in weight.  The theme is a bit of an afterthought, as my main focus was the shapes and construction method.  But I am hoping to use these elegant streamlined shapes to be the beginning of an Iris themed wheel.  Not sure how to make this happen but it will be an adventure.  Since this wheel is not a commission, it will be offered for sale when finished.  If anyone out there is interested in this, please feel free to contact me at . Let’s talk!

Wheel From the Sea

selkie wheel1

Sheilagh wants a wheel that captures some of the mystery of the northern seas.  Having looked at many of my wheels posted on this blog, she was able to tell me what appealed to her about certain ones.  I have used pieces of  a special  stained glass panel on several wheels because it so beautifully echoes the look of rippling water.  I had just enough to add it to this wheel in both the lower frame and in the upper assembly.  One of the creatures Sheilagh requested was a selkie.  (My spell check likes to change this to “selfie” but I am wise to it by now!) This creature lived life as a seal when in the water but when it emerged onto dry land, could remove the seal skin and expose the lovely young woman within.  Somehow I don’t really know if this is possible.  I have had difficulties in the past getting out of mummy style sleeping bags.  But then again….  Sheilagh wanted the selkie emerging from beneath the wheel rather than placed on the upper assembly as I usually do.  This required a bit of engineering, but at this point I am happy with the placement.  Blue is a favorite color of hers, so I am painting abstract wave forms in blue on the big wheels.  I’m using iridescent powders as well which shift color with the changing light.  These are preliminary paintings and of course she may request changes.  The footman rods will be carved sea creatures and the treadles will be walnut with some form of art as well.  You can’t see them in this photo but spaced along the rim of each big wheel are many little abalone pieces inlaid into the wood.  They carry the watery colors  to this area and catch the light nicely as well.  Sheilagh noticed this on another wheel I made a year or more ago. Good call! Most of the wood for this wheel will be cherry and walnut but the shell shape epoxied to both sides of the front leg is figured maple.  I thought this light wood might be a nice contrast to the other two.  The selkie has a woman’s face emerging from its chest.  I carved this out of tagua nut, which is a wonderful substitute for ivory.  I used to carve custom studio buttons for collectors and it is fun to re-visit this special material again. As usual, this wheel has quite a ways to go and what you see here will likely change.  But it’s been a while since I posted an entry and felt it was time to share.  Thanks for looking!





Eagle Wheel, Parting Shot


We have been dodging raindrops for a very long time in these parts.  Since we had a dry moment, I decided to take a few photos outdoors even though this wheel is a day short of finished.  All the little details take time but fortunately are not a distraction in a photo for this blog.  The killer whale design found its way onto the main frame between the treadles.  The treadles themselves are a marriage of myrtle and walnut.  (My pretty myrtle was too short!) The footman rods are Peruvian walnut with a carved eagle feather design on each one. The caps at the top of the rods are borrowed from another wheel.  The real ones are walnut and are almost ready to put on. We will be delivering this wheel to Oregon on Sunday.  The only thing I regret is that I had neither the time or the knowledge to make a falconer’s hood for this eagle.  I think it would be the perfect accessory for this noble bird.  There is a pattern and tutorial on Pinterest.  Are you listening, Teresa?




New Travel Wheel

eagle 1

Since Teresa already has a full sized Olympic, she decided this time to request a smaller wheel she could carry in their RV.  Our original idea in designing this smaller size was to keep the art limited and the price down.  Teresa had some good ideas for art though, and my challenge has been to incorporate as many of her ideas as I can in a compact space. The other complication is that Teresa asked for some myrtle wood.  I had some stashed away and finally have the chance to use it.  It is so very pretty that I refuse to paint over it.  Also Teresa wanted to include natural wood into the project.  So I went through my limited stash of dry wild wood and found just enough for this wheel.

eagle 3

This sculpted eagle on the handle is not finished but you can get an idea of what is happening.  Sometimes wheels just dictate to me what they want.  I fully intended to sculpt a killer whale on the handle and the wood said, “No.”  So I did another of Teresa’s requests – an eagle.  My plan was to craft a bald eagle and again the wood said “No.”  So Teresa gets a golden eagle and the wheel gets its way.  The colors of the golden are far more harmonious with this wheel than a white head and yellow beak would have been.  It pays to listen to the wheels!  More myrtle on the treadles.  Now I need to figure out where to put that killer whale!