I was buying some lumber at the Hardwood Store of North Carolina several months ago and walked by where they sell cut-off ends of lumber they use in fabricating items for customers. A piece of 6/4 sapele with a really interesting grain pattern caught my eye. Sapele is an interesting wood. After it has been sanded and finish applied, the grain will "pop" and under certain lighting almost glow. So I bought the cut-off and added it to my lumber stack.
Just before the Holidays, a customer who has bought frames from me in the past asked if I would consider making a keepsake box for her. That piece of sapele immediately came to mind. I suggested making a box with sapele and maple, we agreed general dimensions and I provided quotes for a box with and without a lid and how much hinging the lid cost. Good brass hinges for boxes are very expensive, so the customer decided for a non-hinged box.
I had two Holiday Markets and another commissioned project ahead of this one so it took a while to actually start on the boxes. It occurred to me that there was going to be a lot of equipment setup for the various steps and it would make sense to make two boxes at once. I decided to make two variations, one predominately dark sapele with light maple splines and inlay and the second with a maple base and edge of the lid for a more striking appearance. I had not made this type of lid before, so lots of dry assembly and fine tuning with a shoulder and hand plane was required to get the central raised portion of the lid to fit into the rabbits cut in the sides of the edge pieces and to get the ridges on the bottom of the edges to fit snugly inside the box.
I hope you like the finished product!
I've got a couple of commissions to do, but after they are finished I'm going to make another of these but will use the dark base and lid along with curly maple for the body of the box and inlay. While I am at it I'll probably re-make whichever box my customer takes home. ;-)
Millie, our beagle, was taking me on one of our daily walks earlier this spring. It was an overcast, cloudy spring day. She led me into the Croasdaile Farm park, around Boles Lake and back out the entrance to Croasdaile Parkway. As we approached the gates, I thought that would be a great scene to paint! I've been working on it on and off for the last month. I'm a notoriously slow painter, do something, then stop and ponder how to do the next part. Or maybe it's just adult ADD. I finished it this morning and now it needs a name. I thought of "The Entrance" or "Enter" but the scene faces outward. "The Gates" or "The Open Gate" are options, but seems obvious and uninspired. Our 4 year old granddaughter suggested "Love Is An Open Door", apparently the title of a song from the Frozen movie, she is a HUGE FAN!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on what would be a good title for this painting. Let me know!
This is one of those things that did not turn out the way you planned. I have some beautiful 6/4 S2S cherry lumber that I bought from the Guess Road Cabinet shop when they liquidated their hardwood lumber last year. The owner told me that he had bought it in 1996 and would sell it to me at the price he paid for it (he still had all that information in a notebook!)
So I made two quarter sheet size with 1/4" maple inlays and corner splines. They had really pretty grain and turned out spectacular (in my humble, but biased opinion). I double matted the two paintings with dark blue inner mats and put them in the frames...……. the cherry wood just did not look good with the bright colors of the fishing boats. Now what? I thought about maple frames with jatoba inlays but decided to try one before making any more frames. I disassembled "Valle Crucis - Winter" and tried that frame with "Safe Harbor" and decided that looked good. While I was at it, I stuck "Valle Crucis" into one of the cherry frames and concluded that it looked good with the green and earth tones of that painting. Ya' learn something new every day.
I needed another maple/jatoba frame for "Quay's End" so I decided to make a couple with 1/8" inlays instead of the 1/4" ones I have made lately. It is a more subtle look than the larger inlays but actually a little harder to make the smaller inlay material. I was satisfied with the way "Quay's End" looked in one.
I did not end up where I intended, but a satisfactory outcome anyway. Now I guess I need to get these pictures, and a new one of "Valle Crucis" on the website.
Wow, it has been forever since I updated the blog!
Where to begin? Well there was the master bathroom renovation and workshop upgrade from hell that went on from July 1 until Jan 1 that kept me out of the workshop for most of that time, Barbara and I living out of plastic tubs scattered about the house, sleeping in the guest room and using the guest shower. There is more to the story, but I won't bore you with the gruesome details.
I was in the workshop nearly every day in November and early December getting ready for the Motorco and Durham Craft Market Holiday Markets. They are both outstanding markets and were very good to Wood Be Retired. I intended to stay out for the workshop in the new year to focus on watercolors, but was commissioned by a man I spoke with at the Durham Craft Market Holliday Market to make a chessboard in a wood combination I did not have. I was able to deliver that in early January after searching for and finding a board of jatoba of the color and character he wanted. That jatoba was spectacular after finishing, I need to find some more and make another one!
When I finally got back in the "guy cave" to paint, I took up a couple of references of fishing boats I saw in Ireland. I was surprised after returning from Ireland how many photos I took specifically for painting references that were of boats. Guess I should not have been since Ireland is an Island.....duh.
"Safe Harbor" is on Carnlough Bay, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, across the road from where our tour bus stopped for a break. It was full of small fishing boats with lots of character. It was low tide as you can see from the moss on the walls of the quey and I really liked that, and the buoy in the foreground. I had not recognized that they were flying the Republic of Ireland flag in Northern Ireland until I was writing this blog!
You may see more from Carnlough Bay in the future.
Our tour director told us that while the sectarian violence had mostly ended, that there was still strongly held differences in the north between remaining part of the United Kingdom (predominantly protestant Loyalists) and joining the Republic of Ireland (predominantly catholic Republicans). You see either the UK flag or Republic of Ireland flags flown depending upon the leanings of the residents of a particular area, especially during the "Marching Season" when we were there. Apparently Carnlough Bay is Republican leaning.
"Quey'sEnd" is another scene captured while the tour bus stopped for a rest break. It is on Killary Harbour, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. While named Killary Harbour, it is really a long narrow fiord separating counties Galway on the south from Mayo on the north and the home to several large salmon farms. It was high tide when we stopped so you only see the top of the moss on the quey-side but I really liked the end of the quey, brightly colored boat, the towers and the life saving ring on the wall.
I've got to get back in the workshop to frame these two, think I will use cherry with maple inlays on both. Hope you enjoy them!
Barbara and I have recently returned from two weeks touring Ireland and Northern Ireland. They are absolutely beautiful and we would highly recommend adding them to your bucket list!
As you might expect, we took hundreds of pictures and several are going to be references for paintings I will be doing in the future, Many will be land/seascapes, and historic places. I am going to try a few cityscapes, something new for me, but I have a few references I want to try. I will also do two or three that are based on looking out the window of our hotel rooms. They will be entitled "View From Room...." Room 225 is the first of them. It was taken out the window of our room in The Merchant Hotel in Belfast. It was a grey foggy morning and the view was the back of several buildings, an apartment and off to the left this chimney with a sea gull perched on the top. I liked the angles, the soot and grime on the masonry the antennas and, of course, the sea gull on top. There actually is a building that runs all the way across in the reference photo behind the chimney, but artists get to delete anything they no not like/want in the painting!
Hope you enjoy it! Be on the lookout for more "Memories of Ireland" coming soon. I think the next one will be a seascape.
I recently received great news. Old No. 5 has been accepted to the 2019 Watercolor Society of North Carolina 2019 Annual Juried Exhibit. The exhibit will be at the Imperial Centre, 270 Gay Street, Rocky Mount NC from Oct. 8- Dec. 29. Thanks to the juror, Stan Miller, for selecting Old No. 5 to be par of the show. Stop by the exhibit to see 70 watercolors by North Carolina Artists.
I have been busy getting ready to offer some things at the Durham Craft Market. I have 37 new picture frames in various sizes glued up, and as you can see below am in the process of applying finish to them. Sanding and finishing is the time consuming part of making these! I've tried a few in a couple of new word combinations, Jatoba with narrow 1/8" red oak inlays and maple with 1/4" cherry inlays. I've done the 1/8" inlays in art frames before, but not offered them in photo frames. Not sure why, but think I will add them with the standard wood combinations. If folks like the new wood combinations, I will add them to the usual stock.
I also have 8 new cutting boards of various sizes and wood combinations. They need another coat or two of mineral oil but will be ready when I sign up for the market.
I'll let you know what Saturday I plan to be at the Craft Market. Hope to see you there!
Oh yeah, I just finished a new watercolor titled "No Swimming or Boating" based on a picture I took last fall while walking Millie the beagle. I wanted to do some water reflections and think they turned out pretty well. Let me know what you think.
Spring has arrived, its been a while since I posted a new blog so I thought I would update you on a couple of good things have happened in the last few weeks!
I am very pleased to announce that I have been accepted into the Durham Craft Market. The Market is held every Saturday from March through December adjacent to the Durham Farmers Market at the corner of Hunt and Foster Streets in Durham. Market hours are 8AM to noon from April through November and 10AM to noon in March and December. My plan is to participate once every four to six weeks between April and December. I will have my usual offerings including, photo frames, cutting boards, coasters, watercolors, giclée prints, and greeting cards. I'll let you know on FaceBook and on the blog when I will be at the market. I will also be participating in the Holiday Market in December.
My latest painting was sold without even needing to be framed! It will reside in the Garden View Offices in the Croasdaile Farms neighborhood with a couple of my other paintings after it is framed.
My father gave me two old Bailey style Stanley hand planes (a No. 5 and a No. 5-1/2) about 40+ years ago. I tried using them a couple of times unsuccessfully and then set them aside. 20+ years ago, I loaned the No. 5-1/2 to a friend. I didn't think much about them until I retired in 2013.
As I got back into woodworking I decided I wanted to learn how to use them and dove down the internet "rabbit hole" to find out how. One of the first sites I found, Red Mill.com, turned out to have a complete history of Stanley planes and I learned that my No.5 was a bit of a Frankenstein plane. Most of the parts were from a type 9 plane made around the turn of the 20th century, however the frog (the part the blade is attached to) was from a type 10 or later plane. I learned from reading articles that the old planes were difficult to setup primarily due to their having thin irons (the cutting blade) and chip breakers. Mine were originals and not in good shape, so I ordered modern replacements from Hock Tools who I had read good reviews about. I then learned about sharpening irons, how to set them up and that the throat of the plane body might need to be "opened up" to accommodate the thicker irons. With some trepidation, I took a flat bastard file to the plane throat and opened it up. The original tote (handle) and knob were also in bad shape so I ordered replacements from Highland Woodworking. Having done the renovations and learning how to setup the plane I discovered that not only could I use it, but I enjoyed it!
That led me to wonder if my friend still had the 5-1/2 and used it? I got in touch, he still had it and never used it, so I arranged to repossess it. It too was a Frankenstein type 9 but had been stored badly, rusted and in need of a general cleanup in addition to the upgrades I had done on the No. 5. I undertook the cleanup and renovations and now have two functioning old-time Stanley Baileys that I frequently use to plane down the inlays in picture frames so they are level with the primary wood of the frame.
That led to my latest painting, "Old No. 5". I was planing down some molding to make photo frames and thought that might be a fun painting to try. I took a couple of pictures with my cell phone as references and got busy. It took quite some effort to do the original drawing trying to replicate the angle of the scene and all the angles in the face of the vice. After spending several hours painting the plane and vice, I recognized that I had messed up the perspective of the back face of the vice in relation to everything else in the painting. I was able to "lift" some of the error but not all of it. I was about to throw it away and start over when I decided to try something I had read about, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I taped off the sections I did not want removed and tried the Magic Eraser......it worked! I then moistened the area I had erased and repaired the roughed-up surface by pressing it with the back of a tablespoon. I was then able to blend the original painted area to the repaired area.
I hope you enjoy the painting, and my long winded blog. :-)
The last four cutting boards are done and I'm ready for the Durham Craft Market Holiday Market this Saturday at the Durham Convention Center from 11AM until 4PM. Interestingly, these boards have a "warmer" character than many of the others. I had a piece of 10/4 walnut with a bit of sapwood that I re-sawed to use in the centers of a couple of these but did not use any other walnut. Using a lot of jatoba, cherry and Sapele along with the maple has warmed the palate of these boards.
Hope to see you Saturday!
John Schwartz - watercolorist and woodworker.