Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Testing Grounds

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.

1 comment:

greg said...

I am so jealous! I am so jealous! I am *so* jealous! How the heck does one arrange one's life to score a triple chairmaking grand slam? Mr. Roper, I hate to say it, but you suck. If you are driving through Crown Point on your way to Dave Sawyer's (a distinct possiblity because it's on one of the most direct routes there), I'd like to meet you.