Monday, 20 May 2013

Things of Stone and Wood

Inspiration for me takes many forms. Working at my own workbench, seeing the work of other crafts-people, learning new techniques and other crafts all together.

Inspiration for me this week is by means of relaxing on holiday with Lisa and Tom. We've taken a break from the near freezing weather of Kyneton and have jumped a plane to sunny ( albeit overcast today ) Bali.

The view from our room in Ubud

It's not our first time to this island but it's our first holiday for a few years. And after a whirlwind 18 months of setting up a new business, workshop, renovating a cottage, starting school ( Tom not me ) and moving all and sundry to the country, we were all certainly ready for one.

I can imagine that you might be asking how being on a tropical island might inspire someone who practices traditional western style wood work? The climate, architecture, lifestyle - in fact everything in Bali is far removed from home.  It is virtually the parallel opposite. But their craftsmanship in all manner of mediums is something to behold. If you can see past the 'tat,' the 'plait your hair ' purveyors, the plastic rubbish and fake watch brigade you can find some amazing workmanship. 

Rice paddies at speed from the mini van!

Stone temple carvers amongst the rice paddies of Ubud. Locals all over the island carving the most intricate designs in everything from Coconut wood to bone. Massive mortise and tenoned framed structures. It's all around you and it's very hard not to be inspired and a little in awe. 

Tom ( with fan ), me & an elephant and his mate

Yesterday while we meandered through the jungle on the back of a Sumatran Elephant, the Pachyderm's handler reached out and picked a palm frond whilst astride it's neck. In about 2 minutes he had fashioned it into a woven, revolving fan on a stalk and handed back to Tom, all whilst controlling the Elephant with his feet! Tom held it towards the wind and smiled as it spun around freely. "We didn't have toys and made our own fun like this," he explained as we plodded along.  Again it was hard not to be impressed. 

When we got back to the hotel that afternoon I noticed the acanthus leaf carving above the entrance to the foyer. It would be admired for the execution of the form if it were in any building, in any country. Surrounded by craftsmanship.

As amazing as this all is my greatest inspiration is seeing Lisa relaxed and Tom having the time of his life. It's inspiration to work hard when I get home,  produce for our shop, to fill the orders I have waiting and to inspire the next person that comes to my workshop to learn something from me. Inspiration comes in many forms but sometimes you need to step away for a while to see that it's right before your eyes.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Interesting paths.

Met a great couple on the weekend. Larry and Carol came to the workshop and made a couple of perches and celebrated their 1st wedding anniversary at the same time. Nice one. 

This wasn't the first chair that Carol had made though and it showed. You see Carol spent 5 or so years in the Newstead workshop of Dickie Blackman, a very well known and respected maker of cottage style furniture. Blackman was well known for his traditional English style furniture, which exuded integrity, simplicity and strength. Hand woven natural rush seats were a feature of his work.

Above is an example of his work that is now held in the Craft Australia National Historical Collection. 

And here is a chair that Carol made with Blackman in his workshop. The rush seat is terrific and very comfortable. It was woven by Carol. Below is a child's chair made in the same style, next to my arm chair to give a  sense of scale. It's a real little gem.

Lastly a little three legged oak table started by Blackman and finished by Carol. The top is hand adzed and draw-knifed. The legs turned off centre then gently shaped by hand with a drawknife and spoke shave. The legs are wedged into the top. So simple and very beautiful.

Blackman's mark lays near one of the legs.

Thanks Carol for the insight into a very talented craftsman and your time spent with him. Thanks to you both for a fun 3 days too. Cheers.