Treen Porn

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Joolz
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Treen Porn

Postby Joolz » Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:46 pm

Wasn't sure which section to put these in, but I guess they are kitchenalia of sorts.

As the good weather is upon us at last, I thought I would embark on a new project. And so this fine, sunny morning, I finally got round to making a pair of trenchers (my first ever) from a nice piece of sycamore I had in my woodstore.

They are copies of a 16/17C type with the little extra well in the corner for salt. They are around 8.25" square and 1" thick. It wasn't until I finished them off that I realised the sycamore has some spectacular fiddleback grain along with a little spalting (the photos don't show this too well) which makes them almost too pretty to pile my stew on!! They are finished with olive oil.

I've also added a couple of pictures of some panels I picked up in an antique/curio shop the other day as a birthday treat for myself. They are 19C, mahogany, probably from a side table, and are deeply chip carved in a way that I only wish I had the time and skill to do. The larger one is around 2' square, the smaller one is around 18" square. I guess I'd better start practising!

Enjoy.
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Chip Carved Panel 4.JPG
Chip Carved Panel 1.JPG
Trenchers 2.JPG


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robin wood
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Re: Treen Porn

Postby robin wood » Sat Feb 21, 2009 8:43 pm

Joolz wrote:They are copies of a 16/17C type with the little extra well in the corner for salt.


Out of interest which source did you get the 16th/17th C design from?



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Joolz
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Postby Joolz » Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:43 am

My source for all things treen is Evan-Thomas' 'Domestic Utensils of Wood'. He shows one of these on Plate 22 and gives it origin as English 16-17th C.

My life's ambition (or at least one of the many) is to make at least one of everything in that book!!

Can you recommend any other source books I could pillage for inspiration?

Joolz


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Postby sally » Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:59 am

Joolz wrote:
Can you recommend any other source books I could pillage for inspiration?

Joolz


Have you got Robin's book? Its rather marvellous :)



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Postby Joolz » Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:24 pm

I haven't got Robin's book. Thing is, I'm not a wood turner but a wood carver. I very rarely get to play with lathes, and wood carving is a totally different discipline, with completely different tools and techniques, and, although I haven't read Robin's book, I guess it's mainly to do with the history of turned artefacts (please correct me if I'm wrong).

As an example, here's the spoon I carved from an offcut of the sycamore I made the trenchers from. I made it this morning and it took me far longer to do than both the trenchers combined. That's the kind of artefact I find really fires my imagination (I ought to get out more!).

Anyway, if anyone out there has any interesting treen in their possession, why not post a pic; when you consider how much of everyday life prior to the invention of plastic was filled with objects made of wood, particularly in the kitchen, surely some of it has survived.....
Attachments
Spoon (Sycamore) 2.JPG
Spoon (Sycamore) 1.JPG


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Postby sally » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:54 am

Joolz wrote:I haven't got Robin's book. Thing is, I'm not a wood turner but a wood carver. I very rarely get to play with lathes, and wood carving is a totally different discipline, with completely different tools and techniques, and, although I haven't read Robin's book, I guess it's mainly to do with the history of turned artefacts (please correct me if I'm wrong)..


well, I would argue that any book with so many pictures of extant artefacts and such useful discussion of how shapes change and which woods etc were used is still of great interest to any wood worker, no matter what the end result 8)



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robin wood
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Postby robin wood » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:55 am

Yes my book is purely turned wood mostly concentrating on archaeological sources.

Owen Evan Thomas and all the other treen books tend to be limited in that they were all written from the perspective of treen collectors. These folk were buying stuff up in the antiques trade in the early 20th C. None of it was provenanced so all their dating must be suspect. The collections and what they write about them are also by their nature skewed towards later forms and timbers. They can still be useful so long as you understand where they are coming from, read them with care and cross reference where you can.

The other obvious one is Pinto Treen and other wooden bygones. He bought a fair proportion of Evan Thomas's collection and amassed a collection of 8000 or so objects which are now in the Pinto collection at Birmingham museum.

Treen for the table by Levi is a more modern version with colour photos, still from a modern treen collectors perspective. None of these folk talked to archaeologists or looked at much other documentary evidence.

The potential drawbacks of that approach are highlighted by these square trenchers. Evan Thomas, Pinto and Levi all tell us that they are very rare survivals of a medieval form and indeed they are uncommon and fetch high prices in the treen auctions. They are also churned out in vast numbers for the re-enactment market cos they are quick and easy to do with modern sawn timber and power tools. When you look for supporting evidence we find there has never been a single example of this form recovered from an archaeological site, they don't appear in contemporary illustrations and there is not a single surviving example with any reliable claim to be earlier than 18th century. The folk that sell them will tell you this is because they all rot or were burnt yet we have lots of bowls, dishes and round turned plates surviving but no square trenchers.

Sycamore was first introduced to the UK in the late 16th C as an ornamental garden tree, it wasn't grown in larger numbers and woodlands until more than a century later and we need to go a century beyond that to find it common enough in large trees to be commonly used by turners. It is a wonderful wood for the modern turner. Having said that the timber is almost indistinguishble from field maple which was commonly used in earlier times for small bowls (but not trenchers) and from the 19th C as dairy bowls.

This is the sort of treen I like. This is one of the big bowls from the Mary Rose, 17" diameter, turned on a foot powered lathe and finished with no sandpaper, the guy who made this knew what he was doing.

Image

PS for woodcarving I would highly recommenced Victor Chinnery's "Oak Furniture, the British Tradition" yes its a furniture book not a carving book but most early carving that survives is on extant furniture and this book is superb.



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robin wood
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Postby robin wood » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:25 am

Spoons are another great pasion of mine, We had a spooncarving course this weekend with 8 folk learning how to carve spoons from green wood with axes and knives.

Image

Image

There were lots of nice things made and I was too busy to remember to take pictures but I did snap this lovely pair. I was particularly impressed because my eyes are not good enough do this sort of fine carving with the knife myself. I know the principle and was able to show Shankar how to do it but was very impressed with the result.

Image

This was made by a previous course participant after some more practice at home, I liked it so much I bought it to use for our soup ladle.

Image

and this is one of mine, none of these are historical replicas, all modern designs.

Image



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Joolz
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Postby Joolz » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:56 pm

Robin,

Excellent work and lots of leads to follow up. Thanks.

Carving spoons is a great way of whiling away time on a hot summers day (especially with a cold beer by your side)! I've got a friend lives just down the road in Brancepeth Castle who goes up and down the country giving spoon-carving classes, and producing spoons that are very similar to yours (including the chip-carved decorations). He says my spoons are too 'precise' and not characterful enough, which I guess is true, but then my spooncarving experience comes from traditional love spoons and exact replicas of period items. They tend to lack 'spontenaiety' (spoon-tenaiety?? - I'll get me coat...).

Your post was very informative - I did not realise sycamore was such a latecomer (truthfully, I rarely use it, as most of my woodcarving is decorative and in oak). As for the origins of the square trencher, I figured there was something of a 'holy grail' effect going on out there when I saw what price 'originals' were going for, especially as you can buy replicas for less than £15 (which is a close reflection of how little work really goes into making one).

Sally, I didn't mean to come across as closed-minded about woodturning (I've got a fair smattering of books on the subject), and Robin certainly knows his stuff. However, reference books are, for me, the start of a creative journey and I'm a great one for trying my hand at making things I like the look of (my spare room is testament to all the half-finished projects I've started after seeing something in a book). But I've never been seriously tempted by turnery. That's not a reflection of the skill involved or the aesthetics, I think it may be because of the "you can only have so many bowls in your house before you run out of things to put in them (or space to put them)" syndrome. I've reached that threshold already. And as for adding turnery to my line of business, I personally know 8 woodturners doing business within half an hours drive, 5 of whom I regularly chuck work at, so you could say the market was a little saturated. And that doesn't include any 'hobbyists'. I only know 3 woodcarvers in the area, though... (probably because no-one is prepared to pay for the time spent in carving!).

Any more treen out there?


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Phil the Grips
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Postby Phil the Grips » Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:55 pm

Whisht your whining man and get on with the project I asked you about! :)


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Joolz
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Postby Joolz » Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:52 pm

My Laird and Maister calls (tugs forelock). I shall away back to the workhouse to toil for bread and gruel!


Mickey Mouse is dead!



l'Enfer, c'est les autres...



(all my images and designs are copyright)


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