Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Here are the results of a couple of the experiments that we did in the iron shop at Penland. Above is a piece of hickory that I shaved green and bent around a pipe that we heated in the forge (obviously a bit too hot). It was thrilling to see the hickory wrap around the pipe and relax as the heat permeated the wood. After it cooled just a bit, the bend was set. This experiment really drove home the idea that the effects of heat are common to forming both wood and iron.
I have always been interested in the way that basket makers pound ash to separate the growth rings for weaving material. And when I saw the power hammer in the iron shop, I couldn't help myself. Probably a bit of overkill, but it was great to see the weak layer between the rings give way and the wood come apart like a bent lamination. One of the students combined these experiments to bend the separated ash around a pipe to make some beautiful circular forms. She let the interior of the bends char. The power of the forge heated iron to burn the wood seemed to strike a chord with some students, as well as myself, as one of the more interesting interactions between the processes. I suppose it's a nod to the caveman in all of us that there is satisfaction in seeing wood ignite.
This week I am happy to have Doug Roper in the shop. Doug is a chairmaker from California and is in the east on a chairmaking odyssey of sorts. He just finished a couple of weeks studying with Curtis Buchanan in Tennessee where he made a substantial writing arm chair, now he is making a high sack back rocker with me, and then he is heading up to Vermont to make a chair with Dave Sawyer. I'll post pictures of his progress.