Archive for May, 2010


the stool!

May 29, 2010

My favourite of the will projects we did this year was the stool. On the first day of school we were introduced to the one in the classroom. Someone from an earlier class had donated it to our program and while it wasn’t the colour I would have chosen it looked beautiful. I quickly became excited about having one of my own. That feeling was amplified when I started seeing the contrast between rickety store bought stools and sturdy, beautifully handcrafted ones during my practicums.

I was keen but then I learned that we’d be making our stools the hard way. Instead of the chainsaws and power tools I’m familiar with we were going to use the slower, old fashioned tools. And we were warned that finishing the stool would mean working weekends closer to graduation.

We started with a 4-5 foot chunk of oak tree trunk and in pairs we used old fashioned tools to split 6 legs out of each tree trunk. It was hard work and it didn’t get easier for quite a while.

Using hatchets we trimmed our triangular chunks of wood so that they looked more round. This work was so tiring and it took so long to make any progress. Despite all my field work with hatchets and axes I’m still not very good with them and so naturally this was my least favourite part.

Finally we were able to go inside and start using draw knives and spoke shaves to make our stool legs smaller and smoother since they were quite a mess after using the hatchets. It was around this time that I got injured and had to watch everyone else charge ahead while I got further and further behind. That was a really trying time since I wanted my darn stool and I wanted to graduate.

I watched my classmates refine their narrow and straight legs, then make the pegs to go into the seat top. They shaped the stool tops and made rungs and by then I was just starting to get my wrist strength up to start whittling down my legs. My wood was full of knots so it was slow work. Thank goodness for Kevin’s few hours of work when he was out here!

Eventuallly I had three stool legs I could live with. I actually quite like the shape of them and each one is quite different. There’s only one other stool in our class that is anything like it and it belongs to the classmate that I split the tree with! Actually, I have one photo of her in the early stages of shaping one of her stool legs.

wood working

Coming in on a few weekends I was able to make the pegs, drill holes and make rungs to fit with surprising ease. (I know this wasn’t the case for many.) Then last weekend I spent a day in the wood shop to smooth out the rungs, carve a dip in the seat top, sand everything and give it a coat of linseed oil.

Now my stool is ready for the journey home where it will be assembled for good with glue and wedges and then leveled off. I can hardly wait to use it in the classroom but I have a feeling it’s going to be joining me in some other places along the way. Thank you Kevin for helping to make it beautiful!



wrist warmers – check

May 23, 2010

wrist warmers

Yippee, my wrist warmers are done! I got the knitting finished on Tuesday but it took me a few days to get around to sewing in the loose ends (my least favourite part of knitting). These wrist warmers were slow to take form, initially because of my injury and more recently because I’ve been striving for perfection and thus pulling out rows of work and starting again.

nearly done!

They’re quite snug – just the way I like them. I really hope that my current jacket will make it another winter so that my wrist warmers can look good for at least one winter. And as much as I like the snow the idea of a milder winter is sounding quite nice to me these days.

My stool is coming along nicely, my boxes went in the mail last week and since I am not camping this weekend, I’ll get working on how to make everything fit in my two pieces of checked luggage. So much for living small – I’m pretty sure I’ll have yet another box to put in the mail.

On a completely different note, we had some interesting homework this week and I actually liked the quick sketch I did so I thought I would share.

norse sketch


the countdown is on

May 16, 2010

19 days… that’s all I have before I leave. In there I have 2 weeks to finish my stool and wrist warmers and 3 weekends to visit friends. Oh, and I have to pack and say my farewells too!

I’ve managed to pack most of the things I can send ahead into three boxes and here’s hoping everything else will fit in my 2 pieces of checked luggage. It seems like that might be a tall order since I haven’t yet figured out how to pack my painting portfolio or my stool. I’ve accumulated so many books (read: heavy) too and when I came out here I was right at the 50 lb limit.

Since I won’t need them for a while, some of my less practical handwork projects made their way into a box the other day but I couldn’t let that happen without a photo:

shepherd, sheep and bunny

I’m so out of the habit of using my camera but I’ll do my best to capture my progress on the stool and the wrist warmers soon.


visiting family

May 9, 2010

A month ago Kevin made his one and only trip east to visit me at school. He met my classmates, helped me with my stool and because he was here over Easter, we also had a few days for a mini road trip.

First we went to Quebec to visit some of my family at their cottage. We played around the yard and the half frozen lake for a few days before going to visit Kev’s family and the sand dunes of Lake Ontario. It was a darn good weekend and I actually remembered my camera AND took photos. Fancy that!

playing with ice




barefoot in the sand...


couldn’t resist

May 2, 2010

By coincidence, Annie and I each got our new glasses last week. I had thought of posting a photo but when she shared photos with her wearing the same necklace as I wear everyday, I just couldn’t resist making a post.

So here I am in my new frames and wearing the very same necklace:

new glasses

I can’t tell you how much I loathe trying to find new glasses. There are so few frames that can fit my face and there’s so much junk out there too!

My old oaklies, that I bought because they were *supposed* to have some wrap (like my sunglasses) have held up well but after six years there are so many flakes of paint missing and the rubber over the ears is nearly gone. I was reluctant to switch but because of the nasty thick and flat lenses that were put in my old glasses they needed constant adjusting just to stay on my head. Annoying! Plus it was debatable how much longer they’d last.

I wanted to make use of my benefits before I lost them and it took me no less than 8 months to find a pair I could stand. These ones are pretty good but the ones I liked the most were more than $800! What the heck? And I’d have to pay for them upfront before the right colour could be brought in. That’s just a little too wild and crazy for me. Take that Orgreen!